Monthly Archives: April 2014

Hmm … how to punctuate abbreviations?

This week, we again pull a question from the mailbag:

Dear Scribe:

How do we punctuate abbreviations such as Jr., M.D., Ph.D, Inc., and L.L.C.?

/s/ Loyal reader, J.D.

Dear loyal, here is the short answer to your question:  it depends.

When you have an abbreviation like “Jr.” or “Sr.” that follows a personal name, don’t insert a comma before the name, e.g.,

  • Correct:      Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the key leaders of the national civil rights movement.
  • Incorrect:   Al Gore, Jr. narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election.

But you should insert a comma before academic-degree abbreviations after a personal name, e.g.,

  • Correct:      Jacob “Jack” Kevorkian, M.D. was an American pathologist who was often known by the nickname “Dr. Death.”
  • Incorrect:   The Imperial College awarded a doctorate degree to rocker Brian May Ph.D (who wrote the Queen classics “We Will Rock You” and “The Show Must Go On”) in 2007.

And always insert a comma between a company name and a business-enterprise abbreviation, e.g.,

  • Correct:      Michael Jordan signed lucrative endorsement deals with Nike, Inc.
  • Incorrect:   The Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team is owned by Trail Blazers Inc.

Finally, as illustrated in the examples above, don’t insert a comma after any such abbreviation to separate it from the rest of the sentence.

That is all for now …

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Filed under Punctuation

The Scribe’s Tip: Money – It’s a Gas!

As Pink Floyd once observed, “Money, it’s a gas/Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.”  So today let’s talk about money, and more specifically, how to express dollars and cents in your writing.

First, when referring to dollars, use a dollar sign—don’t spell out “dollars”:

  • Correct:       $2 million
  • Incorrect:   $2 million dollars
  • Incorrect:   2 million dollars

And second, please leave cents out of your writing unless you are referring to mixed dollar and cents amounts:

  • Correct:      The judgment awarded $49,150.35 in damages and $945.32 in costs.
  • Correct:      The judgment awarded $49,150.35 in damages and $945.32 in costs.
  • Correct:      The judgment awarded $49,150 in damages and $945 in costs.
  • Incorrect:   The judgment awarded $49,150.00 in damages and $945.00 in costs.

Finally, at the risk of stirring up controversy, the Scribe must point out that Pink Floyd got one thing wrong.  Although they sang, “Money, so they say/Is the root of all evil today,” the actual saying—often attributed to ancient Greek poet Phocylides—is “The love of money is the mother of all evils.”  (Yes, the Scribe is aware that the saying also appears in 1 Timothy 6:10, but Phocylides said it first.)

That is all for now …

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Filed under Grammar