Using Full Stops Effectively in Abbreviations for Your Thesis or Dissertation
Academic and scientific writing tends to make frequent use of abbreviations to express a wide variety of concepts and terms as concisely as possible, so it is very likely that you will use of at least a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation. Each abbreviation has to be used carefully, however, to produce the desired effect. The abbreviation must be correct and remain consistent in form and meaning across all chapters and other parts of a thesis or dissertation, and this includes appropriate punctuation. However, deciding where and when full stops are needed in the various kinds of abbreviations can be a little tricky at times.
There is, for instance, an important difference between true abbreviations and contractions. True abbreviations usually take one or more full stops to indicate the missing letters of the words concerned (as in Nov. and i.e., with the latter representing the Latin ‘id est,’ meaning ‘that is’). Contractions, on the other hand, do not use stops (Mr and Mrs). The principle is demonstrated by the abbreviation St: without a full stop, it is generally a contraction and means ‘Saint,’ but with a stop (St.) it is an abbreviation and means ‘Street.’ Unfortunately, this pattern is not always predictable, so Ph.D., M.A. and other degree titles can be written with or without the full stops (PhD and MA being equally acceptable).
Full stops are not usually needed in acronyms and initialisms such as UNICEF and REM. These abbreviated forms are more likely to use full stops when they are recorded in lowercase letters (m.p.h.), but even so they are often written without the stops (mph). If full stops are used, they should be added after all letters in an acronym or initialism, not just the last one (m.p.h., not mph.). Whether you are writing British or American English can also make a difference, with American English tending to use full stops more often than British English does, including in contractions such as Mrs. and Mr. and initialisms such as U.S.A. and R.E.M .
When a single capital letter serves as the abbreviation for a word, it is generally followed by a full stop. In most cases this applies to the initials of personal names, as in W.H. Smith, but citation styles vary, so guidelines must always be checked to be sure you are using the correct forms in your references. Full stops are not required for compass points (N, S, E and W), however, or when an entire name is abbreviated (as in JFK) or when the letter is actually a symbol (R or U in statistics, for example). Standard abbreviated forms for weights and measures, whether they consist of one letter or more, usually do not take full stops (m, cm and kg).
There are two possibilities when a true abbreviation such as vol. or ch. is used as a plural with an ‘s’ at the end. When the ‘s’ is added, the abbreviation technically becomes a contraction because it includes the last letter of the plural form of the word. This means that a full stop is not strictly required, and some authors will choose not to use one, but a stop is frequently used for consistency with the singular form (vols. or chs.).
Finally, when an abbreviated form using a final full stop appears at the end of a sentence, no additional stop is necessary because the stop at the end of the abbreviation also closes the sentence. ‘Trials begin at 8 a.m.’ is therefore correct, but ‘Trials begin at 8 a.m..’ is not. If the abbreviation appears within parentheses, however, a final stop should follow the closing parenthesis, as it does at the end of the last sentence of the preceding paragraph.
Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At Proof-Reading-Service.com we offer the highest quality journal article editing, phd thesis editing and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our expert editing and proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal editing standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions proofreaders and achieve publication.
Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.
If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.