GrammarPhile Blog

Punctuation Gotchas

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Apr 3, 2012 5:30:00 AM

Punctuation and Spacing with Abbreviations (from simple to not-so-simple)

  • The abbreviation of a single word requires a period at the end.
    • Mrs., Jr., Corp.
  • Almost all small-letter abbreviations made up of single initials require a period after each initial but no space after each internal period.
    • a.m., i.e., f.o.b.
    • BUT: rpm, mpg, cpi, mph
  • All-capital abbreviations made up of single initials normally require no period and no internal space.
    • Exceptions: Retain the periods in geographic names (such as U.S.A.), academic degrees (such as B.A., M.S.), and a few miscellaneous expressions (such as A.D., B.C., P.O., and V.P.)
  • If an abbreviation of two or more words consists of more than single initials, insert a period and a space after each element in the abbreviation.
    • N. Mex., Lt. Col., Rt. Rev., loc. cit., nol. pros.
  • One space should follow an abbreviation within a sentence unless another mark of punctuation follows immediately.
    • You ought to talk to your CPA about the problem.
    • Dr. Wilkins works in Washington, D.C., but lives in Bethesda.
    • Please call tomorrow afternoon (before 5:30 p.m.).
  • Two spaces follow an abbreviation at the end of a sentence that makes a statement. If the abbreviation ends with a period, that period also serves to mark the end of the sentence. If the abbreviation ends without a period, insert one to mark the end of the sentence and then leave two spaces.
    • Helen returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. Next year ...
    • We're flying over on Air France and coming back on KLM. If you ...
    Note: When using products such as MS Word, you can go with one space or two spaces after a sentence. Be consistent!
  • No space should follow an abbreviation at the end of a question or an exclamation. The question mark or the exclamation point should come directly after the abbreviation.
    • Did you see Phil being interviewed last night on CBS?
    • Because of bad weather our flight didn't get in until 4 a.m.!

Source: The Gregg Reference Manual

Topics: using spaces in abbreviations, punctuation, abbreviations

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