Abbreviations

Abbreviate the following:

Titles before names

For example: Mrs., Mr., Ms., Prof., Dr., Gen., Rep., Sen., St. (for Saint)

Notice that Miss is not an abbreviation, so we don’t put a period after it. Ms. is not an abbreviation, either, but we do use a period after it — probably to keep it consistent with Mr. and Mrs.

The plural of Mr. is Messrs. (We invited Messrs. Carter, Lincoln, and Ford.) The plural of Dr. is Drs. (We consulted Drs. Carter, Lincoln, and Ford.) The plural of Mrs. is Mmes or Mmes. (with or without the period).

In most formal prose, we do not use titles, abbreviated or otherwise, with individuals. Ms. Emily Dickinson is simply Emily Dickinson, and after the first use of her full name, Dickinson will do (unless we need Emily to avoid confusion with other Dickinsons).

The abbreviations Rev. and Hon. (for Reverend and Honorable) are not, strictly speaking, titles; they are adjectives. In informal language or when we’re trying to save space or make a list, we can write Rev. Alan B. Darling and Hon. Francisco Gonzales. In formal text, we would write the Reverend Alan B. Darling and the Honorable Francisco Gonzales (i.e., it’s not a good idea to abbreviate either Reverend or Honorable when these words are preceded by the).

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Titles after names

For example: Sr., Jr., Ph.D., M.D., B.A., M.A., D.D.S.

These are standard abbreviations, with periods. The APA Publication Manual recommends not using periods with degrees; other reference manuals do recommend using periods, so use your own judgment on this issue. All sources advise against using titles before and after a name at the same time (i.e., she can be Dr. Juanita Espinoza or Juanita Espinoza, PhD, but she cannot be Dr. Juanita Espinoza, PhD). We do not abbreviate a title that isn’t attached to a name; we would write, “We went to see the doctor yesterday” and not “We went to see the dr. yesterday.”

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Words used with numbers

For example: He left at 2:00 a.m. She was born in 1520 B.C.

Either lower or upper case letters can be used with A.M., a.m., and P.M., p.m. It is considered bad form to use these abbreviations without a specific number attached to them: “We’ll do this in the a.m.” or “We’ll do this tomorrow a.m.”

The abbreviation B.C. (before Christ) is used after the date; A.D. (anno domini, “in the year of the Lord”) appears before the date.

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Common Latin terms

For example: etc. (et cetera — and so forth), i.e. (id est — that is), e.g. (exempli gratia — for example), et al. (et alii — and others).

Don’t use etc. as a lazy person’s way of getting out of work. It is bad form to end a list with etc. instead of finishing it with appropriate examples. Spell out the word versus unless you’re reporting game scores, when you would use vs.; when you’re citing legal documents, use the abbreviation v.

i.e. and e.g.

The abbreviation i.e. (i.e., that is) is often confused with other abbreviations (e.g., e.g.). The i.e. is used to introduce matter that is explanatory as opposed to an example or list of examples. If you can say for example as a substitute for the abbreviation, you want to use e.g., not i.e. Do not italicize or underline these abbreviations. Most sources recommend avoiding the use of Latin abbreviations except within parenthetical notes and some sources say not to use Latin abbreviations at all (use the English terms instead) except within citations or reference lists.


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Exercises

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