I teach the UK GCSE and AS/A Level curriculum and I need to know if it is still common practice, in 2020, for British English to omit the full stop after honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Ms, etc.)?

I ask this because I've noticed both the omission, and usage, of the period in English and American texts, and I want to be concurrent with Cambridge curricula.

I've searched through the forum, and while I have found similar threads (and read through them) the questions were either published about eight years ago (How to correctly assimilate dots, if at all? ; Is it proper to omit periods after honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Dr)?) or they don't quite answer my question (Addressing an unmarried woman, 1930s; Say thank you to multiple professors and doctors). However, if there is a more recent post (or multiple) that I have not noticed, then I apologise in advance for the duplicate.

If anyone has an up to date (up-to-date?) website or grammar e-book (preferably congruent with British grammar) they can recommend to me, free if at all possible as my country does not allow for easy online international payment, I would be sincerely grateful.

edit Many thanks for everyone's help.

  • The University of Sussex still (2020) endorses the 'no full stop after Mr etc' practice. As do I. (Though to be fair, they also say words to the effect of "Don't use 'etc/etc.' etc.") Lexico [2020, as far as I can tell] concur for what they call 'British practice'. But you will find the practice required by individual institutions ony in their style guides. May 18, 2020 at 16:38
  • 1
    TLDR. Should you write Mr Soul or Mr. Soul? Should you write Dr Soul or Dr. Soul? If you're following US convention, put full stop after your contraction. If you're following UK convention, you have a choice whether to use a full stop or not. Here's a useful guideline for Brits: If the last letter of a contraction is the same as the last letter of the whole word, then don't use a full stop (period). For example: Mister -> Mr (The last letters are the same.) Professor -> Prof. (The last letters are different.) Mistress -> Mrs (the last letters are the same.) May 18, 2020 at 16:44
  • The BBC apparently use the same style I do (Prof). 'Prof Neil Ferguson has quit as a government adviser on coronavirus after admitting an "error of judgement". Prof Ferguson, whose advice to the prime minister led to the UK lockdown, said he regretted "undermining" the messages on social distancing. The Telegraph reported that a woman he was said to be in a relationship with visited his home in lockdown. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was "extraordinary" and that he "took the right decision to resign".' May 18, 2020 at 17:01
  • Related, the answer is mine: “Maths” for “Mathematics”; where does the S come from?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 18, 2020 at 17:49
  • 1
    @Michael Harvey Mr. And Mrs. Delacroix for one. There are times when It's the wrong thing to do. May 18, 2020 at 22:47

1 Answer 1


Your problem is not really a problem. Both forms are acceptable, with a couple of caveats:

The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1998) is available on line as a .pdf. It has the following advice that is still valid:

2 Abbreviations and contractions. The use of a full point in these is described in Hart's Rules (pp. 1-6), though some modifications are now needed. The distinction between abbreviations (e.g. I.o.W = Isle of Wight) and contractions (e.g. Dr = Doctor, where the first and last letters are retained) is a useful one, but has been eroded in the 20c. by a widespread tendency to abandon the use of full points altogether for both types. As long as consistency is maintained, [my emphasis] a.m./p.m. and am/pm, St. and St, D.Phil. and DPhil, and so on, i.e. types with or without full points, are both acceptable, unless ambiguity would arise by omission of the full point.

Full stops are routinely used between units of money (£95.50, $27.50), before decimals (10.5%), and between hours and minutes (10.30 am; AmE 10:30 am). They are omitted in familiar abbreviations, e.g. BBC, OUP, TUC, or in acronyms pronounced as a word, e.g. Anzac, Aslib, NATO. Hart's Rules deals with numerous subtleties in the printing or omission of full points: e.g. 4to, 8vo, i2mo, etc. (sizes of books), points of the compass, names of well-known reference works (OED, DNB, etc.), names of books of the Bible, and so on. See CONTRACTIONS 1.

Contractions. 1 Fowler (1926) used the word to mean an abbreviation consisting of the first and last letters of a word, e.g. Mr for Mister, St for Saint, as distinct from abbreviations like fun. for Junior, Capt. for Captain. A full point, he argued, was not needed for contractions but was desirable for abbreviations. This useful convention has been widely adopted, but (a) is occasionally awkward as when, for example, Rev. (with full point) and Revd (without) (both = Reverend) are distinguished in this way, (b) has been widely undermined by the abandonment of the full point in many publications for abbreviations as well as contractions.

  • Has this been updated since 1998, or merely reprinted? If not updated, the answer is unacceptable as the 20-year-old article cannot address the actual question. May 18, 2020 at 17:03
  • If you're looking for free books, you takes what you gets. As it is, you agree with Fowler, and so do Decapitated Soul and I. Nobody is going to insist on obedience (at least I hope not) to 'rules' that are no more than guidance. Has this been updated since 1998, or merely reprinted? What did your research show? ;)
    – Greybeard
    May 18, 2020 at 17:20
  • "fun. for Junior" ? But no fun for the dog? May 18, 2020 at 18:03

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