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Name initials

You can use a period followed by a space after each initial in a name. For instance,

M. J. Milford

J. R. R. Tolkien

However, more often the punctuation and spaces are ditched:

MJ Milford

JRR Tolkien

Some abbreviations don’t need periods between the letters and are written without spaces too, like the previous president of The United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who is often referred to as ‘JFK’. A Certified Public Accountant is often referred to as a CPA, also without any periods or spaces between the letters. There are no hard and fast rules for abbreviations; you just have to learn them as you come across them.

Handy Hint - Acronyms, and why they’re different to abbreviations

There’s an easy way to tell the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation. If when your read whatever it is out you say each of the letters individually, then it’s an abbreviation. If you say it as a complete word, then it’s an acronym.

So something like ‘BC’ is an abbreviation because when you read it out aloud, you pronounce the two letters separately; you say something like ‘bee-see’. However, something like ‘KISS’ is an acronym standing for ‘(K)eep (I)t (S)imple (S)tupid’. When people pronounce it, they generally say it like the word ‘kiss’, which you use to describe two people smooching.

Some words can be considered both abbreviations and acronyms; for instance ‘ASAP’, which stands for ‘(A)s (S)oon (A)s (P)ossible’. Some people pronounce it like a word, others pronounce each of the letters individually.