Talk:Full stop

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Full stops after abbreviations[edit]

According to what I have read, a full stop should only be placed after an abbreviation if it does not end with the same letter as the full word. For example, Dr, Mr and St have no full stops following them. Capt. and Prof., for example, don't end with the same letter and have a full stop after them. This would make Mr. Mr and Jr. Jr but consult the Chicago style guide if you like. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:49, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

How many spaces after periods?[edit]

Half of my 8th grade teachers say two spaces, the others insist one space. Which is correct? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Half of your teachers much be idiots because that is incorrect. (talk) 10:09, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Since "!" redirects to Exclamation mark, should "." rediect to this full stop page? I only ask because I'm not sure if Wikipedia:MediaWiki will break if a page exists that's only a dot. --Esse 19:46, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

i don't know why.. but there is no dieresis on the page, i don't know the symbol on the page. dieresis is the two dots above an i or other character to indicate two vowel sounds. eg. Naive.... but it would have two dots above the i.

Can it really be said that people with dyslexia often prefer two spaces if the only source that is cited is a website where the author admits his informal study is asking his friends with dyslexia? -- (talk) 18:10, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, and I've removed that paragraph because (a) the citation doesn't support it (indeed, it says nothing about dyslexia or about dyslexics' preferences) and (b) the citation doesn't even purport to support it, only indicating that people exist who think it's true. Well, there are people who exist who think just about anything imaginable is true, but the point here is to give information that is supported by facts. —Largo Plazo (talk) 20:21, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
When taught typing people were often told to use two spaces. This was due to the fixed type limitation on typewriters. But in typesetting it's always a single space. We no longer use typewriters. The answer is right here on Wikipedia: DavidRavenMoon (talk) 04:50, 12 October 2014 (UTC)
I recommend you actually read the articles you use as references, since that article says no such thing, and debunks the typewriter connection. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Battling McGook (talkcontribs) 05:03, 12 October 2014 (UTC)


There is no mention of the history of the period/full stop in this article. According to the Biography of E=mc2, the period was invented in late Medieval times. Was it really absent from old Latin texts? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bigfun (talkcontribs) 14:07, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes (I took Latin in high school). Classical Latin was written in all caps, no spaces, and with no punctuation. Plus the letters U and J hadn't been invented yet; they used V and I to represent those sounds. So a Latin speaker would simply start parsing one letter at a time and decompose a string of letters into its constituent words one word at a time (it was because this was so awkward that spaces and punctuation were later invented). Sometimes (particularly on formal carved inscriptions) they would insert interpuncts where we would put spaces, though. --Coolcaesar (talk) 19:56, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

There now is mention of "History" in this article. However, the article cites Aristotle as mentioning the "term period" for the first time, then only linking to an English translation. Relevance? What does the original say? Was the usage actually the same, or is it – which seems more likely – a rhythmical separator in the cited text? I will remove this bit in a week if there's no clarification on this. DonSqueak (talk) 01:19, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Full stop or period[edit]

The beginning of the article says that a full stop is the dot at the end of a sentence, whereas a period is that dot and any similar thereto (excluding the three in ellipses.) So a full stop is a period but a period is not necessarily a full stop.

Yet, the article goes on to call the "." after Mr and Dr a "full stop." According to the foregoing statements, this dot is a period, not a full stop, since full stops are only the periods at the end of a sentence.

So does "full stop"="period", or is "full stop" a type of "period." Which is it? 06:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

This article is in need of serious revision. It is flat out absurd to say that anyone in the US uses the phrase "full stop," or "generally differentiate[s]" between one and a period. In American English, the period is any "." whatsoever. 09:39, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. And in the U.S., the term "period" is used for emphasis, as in "You will not question your commanding officer's orders, period." This article fails to expand upon that, and generally marginalizes U.S. spelling and usage entirely. It is currently a British-centric article in need of revision. (talk) 21:40, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

Even the phrase "full stop" is noted as antiquated and incorrect by the article itself saying it was originally used in telegraphy at the end of a telegram, not the end of a sentence, and that "stop" was only used in place of a period. What on Earth did the British call it before the use of telegrams? -- (talk) 01:47, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

The article is wrong then. Full stop has been used for several hundred years, long before the invention of the telegraph. In answer to your question: the British (and the Americans) documentedly called it a full stop before the invention of the telegraph. Saltation (talk) 21:50, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
"Full stop" is always used in Australia and the United Kingdom to describe punctuation. In Mathematics it is "point" i.e. 1.21 is "one point two one". For other uses it is a "dot" i.e. is "one two seven dot zero dot zero dot one". "Period" is never used except to describe female menstruation (talk) 14:42, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Menstruation is referred to as a period because it is the "period" a woman goes through her menstruation cycle, in other words a measurement of time. So period is used in other ways. Not that anyone would listen to a half brained response which doesn't even spell "punctuation" correctly.IMagainstYOU (talk) 23:17, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Although this article is called "Full stop", the various sections flip between referring to the symbol as a "full stop" and a "period" depending on the authorship of that particular section. "Full stop" will always sound odd to American readers and "period" will always sound odd to British / Australian readers, so you can't please everyone, but could we have some consistency please? - Kimelea (talk) 17:13, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

I actually came across a great 19th century reference on this the other day. American Printer and Lithographer, Volume 24, 1897 pg. 278 describes the usage (of that time) for full stop, full point, and period. The upshot is that a period is a piece of punctuation with several uses, and a full stop is one of those uses. This means that the bulk of this article is way off target. In my opinion. Battling McGook (talk) 05:17, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
And now that I've thought about it, I think the more sensible approach is to change the title of this article to "Period (punctuation)", because it's really much more about the Period, and only somewhat about the Full Stop. So how do we make that happen? Battling McGook (talk) 19:43, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Nothing needs revising. It is correct as it is. Opinions mean nothing. The article isn't British-centric, it is factual. It is ridiculous that these suggestions are still here. Equinos (talk) 03:37, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

A number of changes have been made (some by me) since I last offered my comments here. The most egregious specific issues with being British-centric have been resolved. However the major issue remains, and my understanding of that has evolved over time. This issue is the fundamental difference in usage for "period" and "full stop" between American and British english. The usage has diverged so much that there's no way to write this article correctly for both audiences without making it cumbersome to read. The authors thus far have handled the problem by settling on "full stop", or in a sense by choosing sides. This is a problem for all American English readers who will come here and see a usage that conflicts with their own usage. Inevitably this could lead to Wikipedia actively altering the usage, rather than simply reporting it. That is fundamentally opposite of the purpose of Wikipedia, and hence I don't think this issue is closed at all.
If we have to "choose sides", to me it would make more sense to choose the other side (the punctuation is a period, it is only a full stop when found at the end of a sentence), not because of numbers of speakers or whatever, but simply because this matches the historical usage, which was consistent. But that's just one opinion. Another factor is that "full stop" still sees occasional usage in American English (albeit only for the end-of-sentence), while I don't know how often "period" is used for the punctuation in British English. If it still sees occasional use, that would be another argument in favor of switching to "period" instead of "full stop". Battling McGook (talk) 19:57, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Tough one this. "Period" is never used in English spoken in the UK in terms of punctuation (unless we're talking about holidaying (vacationing?) Americans), if that helps - probably doesn't. Then again, I've never heard an American say "Full stop". Aren't there Wikipedia rules to cover this kind of stuff? Btw, above someone mentions using the term "period" for emphasis. The same is done in the UK using "Full stop". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:07, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Inside or outside quotation marks[edit]

The beginning of the article defines "a full stop is the dot at the end of a sentence". However, if the dot is placed inside quotation marks, as in "a full stop is the dot at the end of a sentence.", it clearly is no longer the end of the sentence (similarly there should be no commas inside quotation marks) so either the definition, or the usage of ' ."' is wrong. MH 12:51, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

I'd say the dot is incorrectly placed in your example. My example: _The man asked "Where am I?"._ (Using underscores here around my example so the quotes characters don't get confusing.) The dot comes after the quote character, because it's not a part of the quote, but instead of the parent sentence which still needs to be terminated properly. In this case the quote is a question, so it's ended with a question mark. I'd say if the quoted sentence wasn't a question, you'd still need a dot, but knowing the people who are in charge of language rules, this is probably not the case (similar to how (according to this article) abbreviations at the end of a sentence aren't ended by two dots like I think they should.
If it's just a word, you wouldn't need the dot inside the quote characters, but you would need one to end the parent sentence. According to the "Differences in British English and American English" part of the article this is true in English, but no in US English. I say the English way makes much more sense. Also because of being used to programming a little bit, I'm all for consistancy as opposed to making up exceptions in order to try and cut down the number of interpunction items and breaking logic. The "Differences..." part of the article doesn't mention whole sentences as quotes, just words, so that doesn't really give an answer though. Retodon8 13:02, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Dot product[edit]

People who were taught to use a middle dot as a decimal point, (like me) were also taught to use a lower dot - like a full stop - as a Dot product in maths.  We did, however, make it bolder than a normal full stop.  However, I can't see a different glyph for that, so I suppose we should just use a full stop.  Comments? 13:28, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (spaces after a full stop/period).

Asian Symbols[edit]

Someone who knows HTML or another scripting language needs to fix the smymbols under the Asian full stop headline so that they can be displayed in a variety of browsers. Right now under my Firefox browser it shows up as ? marks.

You need to install a font that includes Asian characters. This is not an issue with HTML or scripting.

STOP versus FULL STOP[edit]

I recall being taught as a youngster that FULL STOP was a term used by telegraphers. The term STOP was used (when sending a telegram) to indicate the end of a sentence. FULL STOP was used to indicate the end of the message. However, as so often happens with recollections from youth, I'm damned if I can find a reference anywhere that agrees with that. I'm still looking - but does anyone else recall being told/taught that decades ago? AncientBrit 18:23, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Western Union used STOP STOP to end a telegram. (Google for "stop stop" telegram for examples. N.B. Orville Wright's famous telegram from Kitty Hawk, however.) Of course, Western Union is American—no idea what they did in Britain.--MrDebaker 08:24, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I moved the passage about telegrams down into a separate paragraph because there is no actual evidence presented here that this had any influence on the naming of the punctuation mark itself. Hence, there is not enough relevance to justify it being in the opening definition. I also removed the unsupported part about FULL STOP being used to end a telegram (which has been disputed in this very discussion, by the way). DonSqueak (talk) 01:13, 24 May 2010 (UTC)


"The term full stop is not used by speakers in the United States and Canada. If it is used in Canada..." - it looks a bit silly to say without qualification that it's not used in Canada, then immediately afterwards to explain how it might be used in Canada! U 05:05, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

It is occasionally used in Canada, though period tends to be the primary term. Celynn (talk) 17:07, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

accessibility and spacing after a full stop[edit]

If there is to be any defining factor about spacing after a full stop, my opinion is that it should be accessibility.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome might be where the research is to be found. "Rivers of white" is what those with SSS have trouble with.

Rivers of white is common issue with full justification (significantly worse in amateur applications than professional applications because of hyphenation and character spacing). Double spacing after full stops with full justification would make the rivers of white marginally worse. Likewise, double spacing after full stops would make the rivers of white only marginally worse than left justification alone. It is marginal because it represents about 1/10th the frequency within a sentence.

I have found numerous sources on the web that express that double spacing after a full stop improves cognitive understanding. Since these sources mention nothing about monospaced / non-monospaced fonts, I have to assume a single non-monospace space after a full stop is insufficient for accessibility.

Since it is possible that a person with SSS could be different than another classification within dyslexia, the deciding factor could be what is more common between the two.

Since this is as far as my research can go currently, evidence suggests that double spacing after a full stop is important for accessibility.

My goal is to have accessibility mentioned in regards to 'spacing after a full stop' because it deserves mention to express that assessibility has been considered.

The issue of accessibility is important--my eyesight is bad and getting worse so I'm well aware of it--but it's maybe more to the point here that (1) like it or not, one space is now the standard, or at least the consensus choice of many typographers; and two spaces is deprecated; (2) monospaced fonts are rarely used; (3) with proportionally spaced fonts, it's usually fairly easy to see the end of the sentence coming; and (4) many systems will ignore all spaces after the first anyway. I put twelve spaces between the end of the last sentence and the start of this one, but they'll be ignored unless I miss my guess.

Two spaces after a period was a good idea in the age of the typewriter, but the original problem has been more or less solved, and the extra space isn't needed any longer, or is needed only rarely. As to the accessibility issue, I'd much rather have the lines farther apart and larger print in the "popular editions" of books.

This is all just my humble opinion, of course. -- 08:59, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

2 questions[edit]

1 is

 interpunct: 5.2 · 2 = 10.4

really correct?

Sort of. The times symbol and interpunct are both vertically centered solid dots. However, they have different unicode encodings, and most fonts render the times symbol slightly larger. It's a little like asking if the word "hello" is actually spelled that way, if you were to use a japanese letter that looked like an O at the end. (previous comment created by: (talk) 23:37, 19 June 2008 (UTC) )

2 i was looking for the history of the dot when it was introduced... i was thinking maybe it was after the gutenberg press?

Uh, no, the period is used in ancient Latin. And, for that matter, in half the world's languages which aren't derived of Latin. (previous comment created by: (talk) 23:37, 19 June 2008 (UTC) )
oh fie. far more than half the world's languages are not derived from latin ;) Saltation (talk) 21:13, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
I think they mean half of the languages that are not derived from latin i.e. of all the langauges that are not derived from latin, half of which use full stops or periods. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:25, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

--- Something like that dot was used for writing Greek at least as far back as the ninth or tenth century (?) A.D. when lower case, the accents and breathings, etc. were adopted. The dot might be older than any of these, It was equivalent to a colon. 13:30, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Telephone numbers[edit]

There is a section that states the the period is gradually replacing the dashes in phone numbers in North America. It must be very gradual, because I have never seen a single instance of it. Maybe this is a Canadian/Latin American phenomenon; I think that anyone in the United States would be quite startled to see a phone number written this way. I am very emotionally invested in the traditional way of writing American phone numbers, and I tend to get angry when I see an area code written without parentheses; I think if I saw an American write a phone number with periods I would probably drop dead from apoplexy. I have seen phone numbers written this way overseas, and it didn't bother me there, I just assumed that was the way they did it.--Hgebel 17:37, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I removed the sentence stating that using the period was an ITU recommended alternative to using a space. I checked the referenced ITU standard and it had no recommended alternative. In fact, it recommends the use of parentheses around the area code (unless a country code is used) and spaces for the rest. It grudgingly allows use of alternatives to the space, but does not make any recommendations regarding what these alternatives should be. (It does, however, mention the hyphen as an example.)--Hgebel 18:05, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
After extensive searching, I was not able to find any reference to this alleged trend, nor was I able to find any United States or Mexican universities that use periods in their phone numbers. All of the Canadian universities I checked used periods, however, Canada is not, by itself, North America.--Hgebel 19:49, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if it's been discussed as an official trend or anything or been written about in a peer-reviewed medium (the problem with including this type of info in Wikipedia, as many minor things can't be cited in respectable sources), but it's certainly a trend. In fact, I find it quite astonishing that you claim to have never seen it--I've seen many examples on Web sites and even on stationery and business cards of numbers like 800.767.2676 or similar.cluth 01:27, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Re: Full Stop merger,[edit]

+ Agreed. --Christopher 11:55, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

In HTML[edit]

It seems unfair to me to say that standardized HTML is "siding unquestionably" with the one-spacers. The reason why more than one space at a time is not rendered is not to spite two-spacers. It's because of the way the markup language works. If you didn't have that limitation, it would be impossible to create neat HTML, since line breaks also show up as spaces. You'd have to put all your tags on one line. Chiyojo 23:22, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

TomAYto, TomAHto[edit]

Shouldn't the American say:

I say "tomAYto," you say "tomAHto."

The question has nothing to do with punctuation and/grammar, but rather a matter of continuity. The question is more or less 'who is actually saying what?' not how they are saying it. The semantics of the conversation dialogue, as it stands, more closely represents an British person talking to a parrot. --NatePhysics 01:50, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Ha ha! NatePhysics, that's tantamount to how I put it originally. Someone then altered things in the interest of a spurious uniformity, and I did nothing to redress the monstrous impropriety so engendered. Thank you for noticing. Fortified by your opinion, I'll now put things right. – Noetica 01:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC)


The article says something along the lines of 'most typesetters these days use one space instead of two', and quotes a source, Dynamics in document design as saying "Use one space (not two) after these punctuation marks [sc. period, question mark, exclamation point, or colon], as the practice of using two spaces is just another holdover from using a typewriter" to support this statement.

It is easy to see that the quoted source does not match the claim made, unless it could be proven that most typesetters follow the prescriptions laid out in that source. Which isn't done in the article.

Either a new source must be found that does substantiate the claim, or a citation offered establishing that Schriver's prescription quoted above is accepted by the majority of typesetters, or the dubious claim must be removed. I have removed it in the interim, since as it stands it is unacceptable. Richard1968 13:15, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I have reinstated what you removed, Richard, and supplied unambiguous rulings from two of the most widely respected authorities, making three citations altogether. Please leave it alone, now. A word of general advice: you appear to be new on the scene, and it might be a good idea to be less trigger-happy! This article, and many in the area of punctuation, are the result of a great deal of careful work by experienced editors. Many of them are editors by profession, in fact. Just so you know!
– Noetica♬ Talk 13:44, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
I'll accept the Chicago Manual of Style as being an indicator of what many people follow, yes. But it still doesn't establish 'most'. And hence it doesn't support the claim being made in the article. The only thing that would support that claim is not some citation of a piece of prescriptivism, no matter how well-regarded that prescriptivism is in whatever circles, but rather a citation of a reliable source which expressly supports the claim being made (for example, because the authors of the source have undertaken a scientific survey of typeset documents, and established the spacing used, coming up with a tally, and using a wide enough sample to justify the ampliative inference from the sample surveyed to the statement 'most', predicated over all typeset documents). This isn't so much about Wikipedia's idiosyncracies as about generally accepted standards for what citations support what claims.
Careful work by experienced editors or not, however, the citation as it was didn't establish that it was widely followed, only that it was prescribed by some person. And if these 'editors' you refer to wish to bring their expertise to bear as some sort of leverage in establishing the accuracy of their claims over those of others, then there are a few important things that would need clarification. First, that they are actually editors of reputable publishing houses, and not copy editing supervisors in the marketing department of some dodgy company; second, that they actually have some sort of say over the final typesetting of the documents they edit—since merely being an 'editor' is no guarantee that one has any control over the typesetting, only the form of the copy that gets given to the printer.
Most desktop typesetting (as opposed to word-processing) software overrides the whole issue anyway, and automatically sets a long space after a full stop irrespective of the input (or, they are sensitive to input but nevertheless set the spacing after a full stop differently to ordinary word spacing). As far as I know, both TeX and FrameMaker (with its 'smart spacing' enabled) automatically kern to an M/2 space, although FrameMaker treats it as a single character (whereas in TeX that's not an issue).
It's also important not to confuse the object of our discussion here. If we are talking about typesetting, then the issue is about spacing on the page, not how many characters there are, or how many keystrokes were entered into the machine to produce that output: we are concerned solely with the printed page, and how the characters are spaced on it; not to mention how this spacing is altered owing to the effects of full justification, if it is used, so as to prevent rivers—some typesetters (or typesetting software) might leave it constant, while others may adjust it along with the word spacing on the line, keeping all adjustments in proportion, and other kerning rules yet might be used! If we are talking about typing, then the issue is entirely dependent on the software (or apparatus, as appropriate) being used: since almost everyone would be in agreement that when typing in a monospaced typeface, as for example on a typewriter—though it holds for monospaced typefaces on a computer screen as well, one ought to use two spaces.
The thing is, there is a huge difference between the input given to a piece of software, and what the software's algorithms do, given this input, to produce a final product.
Perhaps the article should be changed to reflect all of this? Richard1968 14:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Richard, I have reworded parts of the paragraph, and redistributed the references to show how they support the different claims. Note that it is not necessary to cite statistical studies and the like to support the claim that most people have adopted a certain practice. The weight of evidence strongly suggests that this is so. That is sufficient support. Two of the sources describe a majority current practice, it seems. If you disagree with these sources, or are worried that the paragraph says something inaccurate despite this evidence, cite studies yourself: or style guides, or other respected references. So far you do nothing of the sort, but stubbornly ignore the deliverances of the most widely accepted authorities, calling for a standard of "proof" that is quite unreasonable in the present context. Don't set such onerous tasks for me or other editors, simply to meet standards that you want met. I, and others here, are working to perfectly reasonable standards – widely acepted throughout Wikipedia.
– Noetica♬ Talk 21:36, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
By the way, it took me ages to find that 'dubious' template I inserted into the article. Is there any central repository of such templates, for easy access? Richard1968 14:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Regarding numbers at ends of sentences[edit]

This was in the article's section labeled "Mathematical usage":

A question that seems appropriate to consider at this point, given the nature of this entry, is whether a full stop should be used after numerals. That was what I wanted to know in coming here. I notice a full stop is used after "= 10,4." in the above paragraph, but not at its end "= 10.4".
I have placed an account number at the end of a sentence and want to know if a full stop is required after the final digit.

Interesting that I found it in the article itself--the anon editor apparently doesn't know the difference between an article and a talk page. In any case, I'm reposting it here just so it's not forever lost. The answer itself seems to be fairly straightforward (to me, anyway): all sentences end with periods, so a period would indeed go after the final digit, and I added the missing last period in the "Mathematical usage" section as such (the anon was referring to the missing period in his edit). I could be wrong, though... cluth 01:31, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Dot Directory in MS-DOS[edit]

MS-DOS also uses . for the working directory. For this purpose every directory except the root dirctory contains a subdircetory called . which is hidden in the windows GUI, but visible in the command prompt if you enter dir.

When you enter dir in the command prompt the first two directory entries look like this (taken from the cmd.exe in the german version of Win XP):

26.12.2001 11:33 <DIR> .
26.12.2001 11:33 <DIR> ..

--Qaywsxedc 20:52, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

This is your last chance, period.[edit]

Currently the article says:

The word "period", although recognised as an Americanism, is used more broadly as an interjection to terminate a phrase or thought with finality and emphasis, as in "This is your last chance, period."[1] The term full stop is also used in this sense in many parts of the world.

But I have never heard anyone who is not an American/Canadian(?) use the term, in other dialects it is "This is your last chance, full stop." As the word period is not used in British schools to mean full stop, the use of the word period in such a sentence would produce sniggers from any child over ten in Britain and bewilderment in younger children, so adults are highly unlikely the word when laying down the law to children. The given source does not support the contention that the phrase is used anywhere but were it is common to use "period" for "full stop" so unless one is found I suggest that the paragraph is removed. --Philip Baird Shearer 12:07, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Philip, it is said and understood in Australia. Here is the relevant part of the SOED entry for period:

As int. Added to a statement to emphasize a place where there is or should be a full stop, freq. (colloq.) implying finality, absoluteness, etc. Chiefly N. Amer. M20.

Chiefly American is not American simpliciter: a distinction SOED does make.
Here is the relevant part of the OED entry (a later edition than the SOED that I cite):

The point or character that marks the end of a complete sentence; a full stop (.). Also added to a statement to emphasize a place where there is or should be a full stop, freq. (colloq.) with the implication ‘and that is all there is to say about it’, ‘and it is as simple as that’.

No mention of Americanism at all. At least one of OED's more recent citations (1976) is British: "Shooting Times & Country Magazine".
Chambers, another highly respected British dictionary says in the entry for period, with no mention of our Vespuccian colleagues:

...the word is sometimes added at the end of a sentence to emphasize the finality of the statement...

Remember that the use of period to mean full stop comes from its meaning sentence: a sentence was a period (cf. the current use of the word in music), and the marker for the end of a sentence therefore came to have that name as well (cf. parenthesis being the word both for the brackets enclosing text and for the text enclosed). This usage long pre-dates American practice, and indeed American practice is founded on older but still recognisable British usage, in this and so many other lexical matters.
So I suggest leaving the text in the article as it is. I'll add a reference for it right now, yes?
– Noetica♬♩Talk 12:46, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

OK you've done the right thing and made be look up the meanings in the OED!

In the OED are we looking at meaning period n., adj., adv. 17.b. "Now chiefly N. Amer. The single point used to mark the end of a sentence; = full stop n. at STOP n.2 18. Also fig." ? because I could not find the quote you are giving.

What I did see in the OED under "stop, n.2" was

  • "18. full stop.
    • a. The end of a sentence; the single point or dot used to mark this; a period, full point."
    • "b. transf. and fig. in various senses, e.g. a complete halt, check, stoppage, or termination; an entire nonplus. Also = PERIOD n. 11b."

But PERIOD 11b is not about the dot at the end of a sentence it is "[period.11] b. An end, conclusion; the point of completion of a process, etc. † to set down one's period: to reach a conclusion (obs.). to put a (also some) period to: to bring to an end. Formerly also † to give (also set) a period to." which AFAICT is a related meaning but another meaning from that given in this article. --Philip Baird Shearer 20:01, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Well done, Philip. We have both been diligent, but you have used the current OED, while I have used my CD-ROM version. Quite recently the continuing process of revision in OED has caught up with the entry for period and me unawares (to speak zeugmatically for the nonce).
Looking now at the evidence you present, and directly at the whole new entry from OED online, I still think the use of period supports the wording in the article well enough. As in SOED, it is now given as chiefly [North] American – indeed, as originally American, which is new information. But that still doesn't mean it is only American, or that others don't use or understand the word in that sense. We could simply appeal to Chamber's as evidence, in any case. Here is the directly relevant section of the current entry for period in OED:

C. adv. orig. and chiefly N. Amer. Indicating that the preceding statement is final, absolute, or without qualification: and that is all there is to say about it, that is the sum of it, there is no more to be said. Cf. STOP n.2 18b. [Which is: b. Now chiefly N. Amer. The single point used to mark the end of a sentence; = full stop n. at STOP n.2 18. Also fig. – Noetica]

Based on the use, in speech, of ‘period’ (see sense A. 17b) as a verbless sentence to indicate a place where there is or should be a full stop.

[1935 J. O'HARA Appointment in Samarra viii. 248 ‘An unscrupulous woman can make a man ’ ‘Period.’ 1946 Sun (Baltimore) 2 Oct. 8 (advt.) A cigarette is supposed to give you pleasure. Period. 1948 H. LAWRENCE Death of Doll i. 21 ‘Lucky Monny to have her own pocket.’ ‘Stop that. Lucky Monny, period.’ 1958 C. RICE & ‘E. MCBAIN’ April Robin Murders (1959) xxii. 245 But Browne doesn't care... He wants the money, period. 1974 H. L. FOSTER Ribbin' vi. 285 It is wrong for any teacher to have an affair with a student, period. 2001 N.Y. Times Mag. 8 July 15/1 Like it or not, you are going to learn something today. Period.

Let me reword things a little in the article, and update the OED reference, yes? If only the rest of the article had as much attention and soigné revision as this part.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:45, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

If the derivation for the use of the word period in the sentence "This is your last chance, period." is period.11.b and not period 17.b. then I think that the sentences should be removed for two reasons. First it is introducing a confusion over the meaning of the word period (11.b instead of 17.b) and secondly I see no source for the WP:SYN "It is also widely used and understood in its derivative American sense" --Philip Baird Shearer 22:03, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

In accord with your own preference, Philip, I have deleted that material. The matter has got so convoluted that this seems reasonable. If anyone wants to put something back in that is more simply based on sound evidence, I think that would be fine. I might do that myself, sometime. Let me just say this. You started with a comment about your personal experience:

But I have never heard anyone who is not an American/Canadian(?) use the term, in other dialects it is "This is your last chance, full stop."

Well, as an astute observer of the spoken and written language over the years, I myself have encountered it in use by non-Americans, from British and Australian. But the experience of neither of us is relevant, unless we are going to be lax about Wiki protocols. We have the choice to be a little relaxed about these things, in fact. But if you prefer not to, I'll happily agree to do things by the book this time. (If we did that all the time, progress would be impossible!)
– Noetica♬♩Talk 23:14, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

It has been an education for me. I had always assumed the phrase was derived from the end of sentence usage. It is not a usage that crops up very often in speech -- so my sample size is not huge -- but outside North American usage I have only ever heard full stop used (And yes, I have spent several years in a number of different English speaking countries so I am not basing this experience on one regional dialect). Rummaging around in the OED like this reminds me of a programme called Call My Bluff! --Philip Baird Shearer 23:57, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I vaguely remember that show. It isn't that I was citing recently superseded OED text to confuse the issue, mind! I have not yet revisited this matter to verify what comes from where, in the current OED entry. I just haven't got time, so I'm happy for the moment not to have the article say something whose foundation is questioned. That's all. I might look again, some other time. The lesson for me is to check the latest OED, for citations of any importance.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:11, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

"But I have never heard anyone who is not an American/Canadian(?) use the term, in other dialects it is "This is your last chance, full stop."" I have heard this said lots of times. Mainly towards children that are misbeheaving (talk) 22:42, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Suspension mark?[edit]

The article includes this (with some slight recent modification that I have just applied):

In American English, these are normally written Dr. and Mrs. In this use, the full stop is also occasionally known as a suspension mark.

I have tagged the last claim as dubious. What is its source. As far as I know, the ellipsis (...) is sometimes called mark[s] of suspension; and the dash may be used to mark suspension also. But this full stop? I note that OED has something to say about such things in palaeography: not for full stops, and not beyond palaeography.

– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:05, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

To me, at least, the whole section on use in abrievations is a bit overly British, stating rather explicitly that Americans use a period after Dr. and Mr. out of ignorance. I was always taught that a period is used after any and all abrievations and as far as I can recall, this was documented in the textbooks we used. So this is a matter of style differences and not ignorance.

I know the trend today in the US is to leave out periods in initialisms, but not in abrievations. I suspect the trend to leaving them out of initialisms is, in part at least, due to the almost complete replacement of the typewriter with the computer. The typewriter had period on but the default as well as the shifted level of its key, so you could type something like U.S.S.R by either holding down the shift key or engaging the shift lock, but the shift key produces  > on a computer (at least on an American keyboard). 

At any rate, the period in something like Dr. Is not a sigh of suspension but rather an indication that it is an abrievation. Wschart (talk) 20:13, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

I've cleaned this up a bit. I dropped the unsubstantiated and likely incorrect comments about the suspension mark. And I made the part about American versus British practices in Dr or Dr. sound a lot less arrogant. If truth be told, it's the Americans that should be arrogant here, because including the period (and calling it a period) is the traditional British usage. I have a source from 1875 of a British editor decrying the trend towards dropping the period from these abbreviations: "it is now rather a common practice to reject the period after the words Mr., Mrs., Messrs., &c. (thus "Mr Smith," &c.,) but in our opinion it spoils the look of the work." from The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, and Journal of the Household, Volume 13, 1875. Battling McGook (talk) 21:57, 23 December 2013 (UTC)


There is currently a section called >==Differences in British English and American English==

But in the "Quotation marks" section of the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (see WP:PUNC) it says:

:Note: This is not an American versus British English stylistic matter: at least one major British newspaper prefers typesetters' quotation (punctuation inside) and BBC News uses both styles, while scientific and technical publications, even in the U.S., almost universally use logical quotation (punctuation outside unless part of the source material), due to its precision. Wikipedia uses logical quotation because as an encyclopedia it requires high standards of accuracy in the use of source material, and because logical quotation is far less prone to misquotation, ambiguity and the introduction of coding and other errors.(my emphasis)

One or the other seems to need correcting. If the MOS is correct I suggest that the terms British English and American English are replaced with logical quotation and typesetters' quotation --Philip Baird Shearer 12:19, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Philip, I think the easy solution is to add the word simply to the MOS text: This is not simply an American versus British English stylistic matter: ... That reflects the facts of the matter, it seems to me. I'll make that change myself, in a moment. As for this article, I'll have a look now, too.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 22:45, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Spacing in abbreviations[edit]

Is it recommended (if not mandatory) to use a space after a full stop used in an abbreviation as it is the case with languages like German for example?
For instance: i.e. vs i. e.
-- (talk) 10:16, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Check your style guide. If you don't use a particular one in your line of work, the Chicago Manual of Style is a general style guide that should be sufficient for your use. Airborne84 (talk) 06:14, 13 February 2010 (UTC)


Why does this have no table of contents? (talk) 02:51, 25 December 2008 (UTC) I just looked at a bunch of othe punctuation pages, they all have TOCs, and it doesn't appear to break the page or anything. I am removing the NOTOC tag. If someone has a good reason, please feel free to replace and leave an explanation. (talk) 03:03, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

Transportation meaning in American English[edit]

I had inserted a section on the usage of "full stop" in American English (as being used to describe ceasing the movement of a vehicle) and JackLumber deleted it on 3 March 2009 as irrelevant. I disagree. On the contrary, it is highly relevant because it goes directly to the misunderstandings on the part of American English speakers when they encounter the British English usage. Any comments? I plan to put that section back soon. --Coolcaesar (talk) 15:26, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Hello? Hello? Anyone there? If no one comments on this, I will be reinserting that section soon. --Coolcaesar (talk) 01:16, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, it's been six months. Here it goes. --Coolcaesar (talk) 23:00, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

I tend to see it as irrelevant as well. In that sense, "full stop" (I've normally heard "complete stop"), is just the word "stop", with an adjective modifying it. To me, it just seems like chance that the phrase happens to also be a compound word in BE. I don't really think that the phrase substantially affects how the word "full stop" is interpreted by AE speakers. I don't really think that this needs to stay in the article, unless we really intend to cite every other homonym in their respective articles. If it is to stay, I don't really think that the usage needs to be cited, much less cited twice. (talk) 22:00, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

I strongly disagree. It's important because for American English speakers hearing or reading British English, it raises the obvious implicit question---"Full stop? Isn't that what you do with a car?" --Coolcaesar (talk) 22:08, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
Being an American myself, I believe the transportation reference is valid. I think that Full Stop is associated with old ships. Full Ahead, Full Stop etc.. The engine room telegraph lever has full ahead, ahead slow, stop, etc. written on it. I think this is a common association for Americans. I had no idea what a full stop was in punctuation was before moving out of the US. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:04, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

This discussion is both nonsensical and irrelevant. Your personal anecdotes of ignorance have no importance. Equinos (talk) 03:36, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Spaces after full stop[edit]

Please visit Sentence spacing before reverting my changes (again) to the "Spaces after full stop" section. The wording could be improved, but I believe that it is more useful as it stands (in general terms). Additional thoughts:

The order is chronologically correct. I moved the current convention, a single space, to the top, and the oldest to the bottom. I also noted the double space convention as a "historical" convention because that is correct (please refer to the above link for those that are emotionally attached to the double space). It only recently changed (in the last decade) but it is no longer the convention.
It is a bit disingenuous to state that "there are three main conventions." First, that may be WP:OR and could use a citation. There may have been sixteen conventions through history. Also, what scope does that refer to? If it refers to countries using the modern or extended Latin alphabet, that would be a useful clarification for an encyclopedia. Also, there may be three main conventions throughout recorded history, but there are not three in use now - in the modern Latin alphabet context. There is only one.

I know some people were taught the double space and still prefer that convention. However, this is an encyclopedia and we must present verifiable information, not tastes and opinions (although those are noted in the main article through verifiable sources). Airborne84 (talk) 03:52, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

<<Quotation Marks>>[edit]

Considering the full stop section on quotation marks begins to give a comprehensive treatment on the use of the full stop in or out of quotes in other styles, wouldn't it be appropriate to include the full stop convention with the use of <<French quotes>>? Airborne84 (talk) 03:14, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Typesetters' rule for full stops inside quotes actually true?[edit]

I was wondering about how the sorts for quotation marks were better protection than the sorts for spaces. The line would be filled up with sorts for spaces anyway, thus making the pressure on the full stops (and commas for that matter) identical, or am I mistaken here? The sourcing for this particular bit is from a newsgroup FAQ that mentions one person with an email address as the originator of this information. The email address, however, is dead. I believe that further explanation and verification is necessary, as otherwise – and especially in such brevity – the explanation is not utterly convincing. EDIT: In fact, aren't full stops and commas in most cases followed by a space anyway? How are they protected then? DonSqueak (talk) 00:33, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Article is growing beyond its scope[edit]

There is a serious problem brewing with this article. The lede states that the full stop is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences. There are sources stating that the intent of the full stop was to act as a punctuation mark that created a pause at the end of a unit of thought (contained in a sentence).

It seems, however, that some editors have latched on to any and all uses of the glyph "." (also known as a period) in various languages and in some very modern uses—that fall outside of the sourced definition of a full stop. Those instances have been placed in the article and attributed to the title "full stop", with no source.

1. A period after an abbreviation, inside an acronym, inside of a number (math usage) in some languages other than English, and in programming code and other computer uses does not constitute a glyph that is commonly placed at the end of a sentence to conclude a unit of thought.
2. If a use listed in number 1 is defined as a "full stop" in a reliable source, super. Let's keep it in this article.
3. If there is no source defining them as a "full stop", they are simply glyphs that do not act as "full stops" in the manner that this article is sourced and defined.

I've added cite tags to key sections that fall within my area of concern. I encourage the editors that added these sections to provide a source linking these uses to that of a "full stop" or remove them. It would pare down the article to remove them, but will make it more accurate. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:47, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

If a source is available that makes "full stop" a synonym for "period" in that it describes the glyph "." for any and all uses, that would allow the retention of all the information in the article. However that would need to be sourced and described in the lede. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:53, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Where do you propose this extra information is moved to? I feel that your edit requesting a citation for computing use is unnecessary. This is not a contentious statement and therefore no citation is required. See WP:INCITE and WP:NOCITE. Thanks. --Trevj (talk) 14:36, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I find it contentious. If there are no reliable sources that define a decimal point as having the same meaning as a full stop or period, it could simply be erroneous to list those passages here. If there are reliable sources that link decimal points to full stops and periods, no problem. Let's add them. If not, the material could be moved to the decimal mark and/or the delimiter articles.
Consider that just because an en dash might look similar or identical to a minus sign to the naked, unpracticed eye does not mean that they are the same glyphs and have the same meaning. The material in question is probably useful; I'm just not sure that it belongs here. --Airborne84 (talk) 21:14, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I think that moving the computing terms to decimal mark would be inappropriate because some countries use the comma as a decimal mark, not a full stop. The full stop computing use in question is most certainly a full stop, as it has the same ASCII value. Moving to delimiter sounds more viable. --Trevj (talk) 21:20, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't mind moving the material to the delimiter article. I also don't mind leaving it here, provided (1) the computing material is supported by a source, and (2) the use provided by that source is linked to the terms "full stop" and "period". In that case, the subject of the article (i.e., the definition of fullstop/period) will need to be expanded to encompass the computer usage material. Nothing wrong with that at all, especially since the lede is very underdeveloped anyway.
I'm fine with either option. My concern with leaving it the way it exists right now is explained above, but is explained in brief by a lack of sources. --Airborne84 (talk) 02:16, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Issues: contradiction, formatting, introduction, fact distortion[edit]

What exactly is the full stop? The introduction does not introduce and it contradicts the rest of the article. There are several formatting issues. Also there are several incidents of fact distortion (nearly right, but not correct) or fuzzyness. -- Tomdo08 (talk) 20:48, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Full Stop History[edit]

Where does the phrase "full stop" come from? The article indicates that the US word "period" is derived from a Greek punctuation mark name, but there is no discussion of the equivalent origin of the British phrase. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:09, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Copy-editing needed?[edit]

I've read the article. Some of the facts are a bit foggy, but I think the grammar is coherent and style clear. I'd expect no less from an article written on the period! Anyhow, I believe that the tag "needs copy-editing" is no longer necessary or applicable. I propose to remove it. Thoughts? Alex60466176 (talk) 03:15, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

I did some copyediting. Some was needed. In this regard, the biggest issue remaining is the references, but that is mostly formatting IAW WP:MoS.
There are bigger issues with this article than copyediting, but at least this tag can be removed—for now. --Airborne84 (talk) 04:33, 27 December 2010 (UTC)


In the section Mathematical usage, the article states "The full stop glyph has two separate uses with regard to numbers. It can be used as a decimal separator or to present large numbers in a more readable form." It then says:

The following is an example of the full stop used as a decimal separator.

  • 1.002.003 (One million two thousand and three)
  • 1.002,003 or 1 002,003 (One thousand and two and three thousandths)

But that is precisely incorrect: these two examples actually show the use of the full stop not as a decimal separator but as a "thousands separator" for presentation of large numbers, and the comma is used (in the second example) as the decimal separator. This usage is uncommon in English-speaking countries. Perhaps better examples should be included, showing the use of the full stop as a decimal separator (common in English-speaking countries), as well as as a thousands separator (in rest of Europe). -- (talk) 18:46, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Agree, I propose (1) changing in the example the words "decimal separator" to "thousands separator".  (2) Also, add the full stop in the third example, where it is currently missing.  (3) Also, add a comma after "One thousand and two" for readability.  RB (talk) 20:51, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Period, not full stop[edit]

This articles states that period dates back to an earlier form of punctuation, therefore suggesting that British English adopted "full stop" even though it is incorrect.

The article should be renamed, along with incorrect usages of "full stop" in the article. IMagainstYOU (talk) 23:25, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

I add a third to this. British English shouldn't necessarily take precedence over American English. Indian English uses period, not full stop. (talk) 03:40, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

As an American, I concur. Period is more widely known and less likely to be confused with transportation issues. (As in bringing a car to a full stop, which is where the English phrase is most often seen in American English.)--Coolcaesar (talk) 03:59, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Period is an Americanism. It is not widely known outside the United States. Full Stop is the more common English term for the punctuation mark.Zhongguoyingdu (talk) 18:15, 5 December 2015 (UTC)
"Americanism" itself is pejorative. Period is American English (used in many locations outside the United states) and Full Stop is British English (used in many locations outside of Britain). It's difficult to say for sure which way is more dominant. The particular problem with this article is the complete reversal in the two dialects. Both have a major term for the generic punctuation, and a much less frequently used term for its usage as terminal punctuation. One dialect uses "Full stop/period", and the other uses "period/full stop" for the major/minor terms. There has been no reasonable solution offered to the problem thus far, except for extremely unhelpful arguments along the lines of "my side is right", or "my side has more people on it", both of which are unproven, and both of which are beside the point for creating a neutral article that can be comfortably read by the entire audience. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Battling McGook (talkcontribs) 19:13, 5 December 2015 (UTC)
Unless a valid argument can be made for renaming, I support leaving it as is. The arguments made seem to be preferences. (Coolcaesars assertions could be valid arguments, but they would need to be supported.) Personally, I feel that American usage and sources tend to be over-represented on the English Wikipedia, many times requiring a Worldview tag or gentle reminder for editors to consider English users and/or countries outside of the US. In that light, a name change to "period" may be a step in the wrong direction, especially when "period" on the disambiguation page points here anyway.
Objectively, either title would be fine. Some more support is needed (IMHO) to justify a change of title though. --Airborne84 (talk) 04:31, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Full stop is preferable because it doesn't need to be disambiguated. There is already an article at period, so we would need to devise an ugly title like "period (punctuation mark)". In any case Wikipedia policy is not to change from one variety of English to another without a strong reason. Iota (talk) 17:56, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
I concur with those who say it should remain full stop, even as a Canadian who tends to use "period" -- the argument that it's less likely to be confused with transportation issues becomes moot when you consider what "period" may be confused for in this age of increasing discussion of bodily functions. Flippancy aside, as Iota mentions above "period" needs to be disambiguated from its other general meaning of "timeframe" or "era", not to mention several related and unrelated uses in science and math. Secondly, in transportation it is more generally referred to as a "complete stop", with full only being added for emphasis (i.e. "full and complete stop"). Lastly, I have heard North Americans use both in the conversational context (i.e. "We will not do this, period." AND "We will not do this, full stop.") We are not so removed from the era of the telegram (especially with period-piece entertainment media to remind us) that "full stop" is somehow incomprehensible to N.A. readers. (talk) 02:32, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that "Full stop" is NOT correct, at least not in American English nor in historic British English. You do not put a full stop after an abbreviation, for example, because then it is not a full stop. A full stop is only that thing that brings a sentence to, you know, a full stop. A period is the more general term for the piece of punctuation, regardless of it's usage. (Note that in the 19th century they also used to be called "points", particularly in the context of the printing industry.) British texts from the early 19th century used this same convention, but by the early 20th century, they had drifted to use "full stop" as the more general term for the piece of punctuation (while still usually mentioning the word "period"). Ultimately it is not going to be possible in my opinion to write an article that appeases people from different locations AND time periods. So in my opinion, the whole thing should be switched to "period (punctuation)", since that is consistent with the largest body of current text AND most of the historic texts. Then we should describe the differing usage clearly at the beginning, and addresses it more thoroughly in the History section. Battling McGook (talk) 17:22, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Ok, "full stop" is (sometimes but) not always punctuation, and the punctuation is (sometimes but) not always a period (it can be a point or dot), and a "period" is not always punctuation. This article looks to me like it's about "full stop". It also looks like it's about much of the various punctuation that uses the "period" glyph (though it doesn't go into the interpunct thoroughly). There's topical overlap in the whole shmear, including usage through time and geography. What exactly is the "real" topic of the article? That needs to be decided before a proper title can be selected. And if some subset of the possibilities is then considered to belong to this article, what happens to the other content? New articles? Why; is there enough content to support division? Why not decide that all of these things are the "topic", and use the article to disambiguate it all? That's one approach. Divide the material if a separate article is needed to support the Typography project. But maybe keep all of it together at the same time (in a fashion), to capture and discuss the interrelationships too, referencing the typography article for details on that usage. There's another approach. I think all the comments above are reasonable in their own way. It's just that we don't need (perhaps don't want to) choose either/or. Both/and seems appropriate for the encyclopedia as a whole. I don't know which approach to take, but the bigger picture needs to be taken into account. It's a larger-scale organizational issue. Evensteven (talk) 09:05, 11 March 2014 (UTC)
Please note that there are two talk sections here about period versus full stop, and a third section on the scope of the article.
Your opening statement is not correct. I would say that in American usage, a period is always punctuation, sometimes it has more specific names like "full stop" (which to complicate things is the generic term in British English), or "decimal point" or "point" or "dot". Part of the issue might be "what is punctuation"? Is a decimal point punctuation? Or the dot in I.P. addresses? Or when used in an abbreviatinon or initials?
I'd argue for a broader definition. When is a full stop not punctuation? When is a full stop not a period (answer is in British usage where I don't see period used at all)? All of these things are used in their own fashion to control the parsing of written communication. You could make an argument about the dots in I.P. addresses, but they are parsed by people reading them, not just by software. I'd say the topic is what used to be called 150 years ago in the printing industry the "full point". Which is basically that dot that goes by the generic terms of "full stop" (British English) or "period" (American English), but has other more specific names depending on usage.Battling McGook (talk) 15:00, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

The article started as 'period'. Why was it changed to British English without consensus? British English seems to get automatic superiority on Wikipedia, due to a ton of British editors who make it their mission to change everything to their preferred version of english — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:08, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

The article didn't start at 'Period', it started here, initially as an erroneous redirect to 'Period' and then fleshed out in the following months. 'Period' was initially about periods of time and specifically not about punctuation, before becoming a disambiguation page. As far as I can see, 'Period' never had any substantial content about the punctuation mark, that has always been here. NULL talk
09:41, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

Spacing section incorrect[edit]

From the spacing after full stop: "One widened space (such as an em space). This spacing was widely used in historical typesetting practices (prior to the nineteenth century).[11]"

First off, the citation actually disproves the sentence. If you look at the 1911 edition of the Chicago Manual, it recommends an "em-quad after periods, and exclamation and interrogation points, concluding a sentence." An em-quad is a large space, whereas the word space it recommends is a "3-em space," which is an abbreviation for "3-to-an-em," or 1/3 em. In other words, the citation says that an end-of-sentence space should be THREE TIMES the size of an interword space. And, since this is a source from 1911, it hardly qualifies as "prior to the nineteenth century." (The Sentence spacing article also has a number of style guides from the nineteenth century also calling for a larger space.)

In fact, a cursory glance at most books printed in English through the 1920s or so shows a much wider space after a period. The practice begins to decrease, but you find examples of it as late as the 1940s and even into the 1950s for some publishers.

I am therefore changing the "(prior to the nineteenth century)" to "(until the early twentieth century)" to accord with the information actually given in the citation. (talk) 15:13, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

History section incorrect[edit]

Well, I mean it's fine now, but it wasn't before I got here. The source on offer—offline and in a foreign language—may be a WP:RS with some valid points to include later, but something had patently gone wrong when teleía (misrepresented as telia) was being given as the name of an incomplete stop. There may be some classical source (probably not Aristophanes) for using periodos to indicate the low mark in the function of a comma—the OED glosses Ælfric of Eynsham describing it that way in the Middle Ages—but it wasn't used as a name of the full stop until the 16th century.

I'm not sure if it was a bad source or just a misreading (maybe owing to Google Translator issues?), so it's possible that deserves another look. Better, though, to go to Nick's sources like Thompson's Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaiography and pick up from there. — LlywelynII 09:32, 7 October 2014 (UTC) Is it reliable?[edit]

While adding sources and removing biased language from the section on American and British differences, I also removed the following text:

Before the advent of mechanical type, the order of quotation marks with full stops and commas was not given much consideration. The printing press required that the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and full stop be protected behind the more robust quotation marks. [ref]"AUE: FAQ excerpt: ", vs ,"". Retrieved 2013-09-21. [/ref][unreliable source?] Typesetters' style still adheres to this older tradition in formal writing. It is taught to American schoolchildren when they learn how to draft prose, and is strictly observed in most books, newspapers, magazines, and journals.

I did this in a separate edit so that it will be easy to undo if necessary. This site looks like a forum to me, but I might be wrong. Has anyone established that alt.usage.english is RS? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:38, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

No I wouldn't consider them a reliable source. alt groups in particular were completely unmoderated free-for-alls. More generally, usenet groups are probably only useful for the most basic facts, like "this shows that X existed by this date" or "Y stated this on this date". Battling McGook (talk) 02:51, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Fowler and Fowler advocated American style?[edit]

The article currently says that Fowler and Fowler advocated using American style. What I've heard is that they were the first principal advocates of British style. Is this a typo? Did they advocate American style early on and then British in a later edition? I'm holding off on the bold delete because I haven't actually seen F&F's book, but this quote attributed to them in Scientific Style and Format suggests more British style than American: [1] Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:02, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

I have to be honest, I'm inclined to undo most of your edits. The British/American distinction is a false dichotomy, and a distinction which is not continuous throughout history therefore can be confusing. The logical/aesthetic distinction is a purely functional one which avoids confusion. A similar issue arose with English/French spacing, where the terminology in the last few decades has attempted to flip-flop, resulting in endless confusion. The language also tends to create conflict among readers as well as editors, with people automatically favoring the alleged allegiance, rather than looking at the issue more pragamatically. Battling McGook (talk) 02:48, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
If there are reliable sources that say that the split is a false dichotomy, then it would be natural and appropriate for the article to say so too. (EDIT: I mean that parts that address this punctuation issue directly. Otherwise, a treatment of that idea would be best given in British and American English differences.) However, all the sources that I've seen treat the British/American split as real. Here's Chicago 14 (via website), Oxford Dictionaries, Scientific Style and Format. I can cite more if necessary, but that's a general style guide, a dictionary and a specialist style guide from both sides of the Atlantic, all saying the same thing: British English does X and American English does Y. So at most, the article would include both viewpoints.
The following question is not rhetorical: Where did you learn to think of the split as false? Is there a textbook or professional blog we could quote?
However, in any case, the biased wording should stay out. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:50, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
I spend a lot of time researching 19th century printing practices. I actually can't find anyone advocating there for any so-called British style. The vast majority of references then recommend commas and periods always go inside, while exclamation points, question marks, and semicolons should be placed logically. Nobody mentions at all that there is a divergent British practice in that time period, and the language always uses the word logical or something similar for the placement. Surprisingly I can't seem to find any old British reference on punctuation that discusses the issue. But I see no mention of a difference anywhere (and rest assured, people seemed to love to discuss these issues at length back then just like today). One very significant difference, which may be related and is mentioned in most old sources is that in Britain, 'single quotes' are used first, and "double quotes" only used when nested inside of single quotes (i.e. the opposite of American practice).
In the 20th century I've found one isolated article in 1915 where the British Review mentions that another journal has criticized them for this, but it doesn't say what other journal. Other than that, I don't find anything at all until the '70s which mentions any divergence between British and American practices. After this it does seem to become more common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Battling McGook (talkcontribs) 04:22, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
It makes sense that your sources show nothing in the 19th century. It's my understanding that this difference between British and American English dates back to 1906 or so, when Fowler and Fowler started advocating the current British placement of periods and commas in The King's English (which is why I'm questioning the accuracy of the statement that they advocated the American system in 1908), so yes, there wouldn't be any difference in 19th century punctuation. I have many more British references on punctuation that I could show you, but they're all modern. As for what the practice is called, I've found that "British" is by far the most common name with "logical" less common but still common enough. "American" is used by almost all sources that use any name; all other names are extremely rare.
So you have no objection to saying anything like "The British system is also called 'logical quotation'" in the article?
I'm pretty sure the split goes back 107 years, but 40 years is still long enough to say that it's real. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:32, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

I still think this "Fowler and Fowler said use American" bit has to be a mistake. A 2008 version of the page says this As with many such differences, the American rule follows an older British standard. The typesetter’s rule was standard in early 19th century Britain; the grammatical rule was advocated by the extremely influential book The King’s English, by Fowler and Fowler.[2] Okay found it. The switch dates to this change [3]. Slim's usually a careful editor, but it's possible that this was a slip. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:43, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

Slim answered my query. [4] Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:23, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
So the confusion that you just came across is a perfect example of why I think we should avoid British/American terms and stick with the logical/aesthetic distinction. Battling McGook (talk) 19:18, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
With respect, no it isn't. Slim deleted the word "grammatical" by mistake. It has nothing to do with the names that were used. Even if it did, per WP:V, the article must use sourced material. "British" and "American" are by far the most common names for these practices, so that is what the article should call them. There is also a respectable minority of sources that call the British system "logical," so it wouldn't be inappropriate to list that as an alternate name. Do you know of any sources that back up "aesthetic"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:21, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
The one side of the coin is almost always referred to as "logical" or "grammatical" (when it isn't called "British"). The other side is less consistent. "Aesthetic" is often used, so is "typographical". Many texts just say it "looks good" or "looks better" or some similar collection of phrases, but most attribute it in some way to how it looks (although a few simply blame printers/compositors without specifying why). But generally these are used in a descriptive fashion, not as an actual name of this style. I could find a few source if I was going to push this further, but you've made some good points so I'm inclined to drop it for now. I'd still urge caution in switching wholly to "British/American", because the meaning can still flip-flop. Battling McGook (talk) 00:18, 15 September 2015 (UTC)
In my experience, people think that whatever style they're more used to looks better, and I've talked to a lot of people about this. I'm not convinced that "aesthetic" or "typesetters" are literally often used. I've searched for sources on this issue many times, and I haven't seen them in anything I'd call an RS. "Aesthetic" I've only ever found on a site that was mirroring Wikipedia. Even then, I'm not 100% against including them, but yeah they should have a source or two. As for "logical," are you okay with re-inserting it as an "also-called" for "British"?
That's the beauty of Wikipedia. If the names change, we can update the article. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:43, 15 September 2015 (UTC)
Because of an issue on another page, I ran searches for "typographical" and "typesetter" with "quotation mark." In reliable sources, both terms seem to be used to mean "curly quotes"/"smart quotes." I did see "typesetter's" used to refer to American punctuation placement on forums and blogs, but the "curly quotes" meaning was also common in such places. Again, this doesn't mean that RS supporting that meaning don't exist, but I did a pretty thorough search and didn't find any. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:41, 8 January 2016 (UTC)

These I found extremely easily in a very short time. I have no doubt that I could easily double, triple, quadruple the size of this list of I kept going, and would not run out of sources. It may not be the case that all sources explicitly use these expressions as names, but the link between typesetting/typography/compositors/aesthetics is very strong, while the link with American is much weaker (as shown in only these short sources). Similarly, "logical" is almost always used for the reverse side, although I don't think we disagree on that.Battling McGook (talk) 16:53, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

I love sources!
  • Nunberg uses the word "aesthetic," saying "American style has an aesthetic motivation," but he doesn't use it as the name of the style.
  • Do F&F say "the name of this practice is 'aesthetic' something"? I'm not sure they do, though they mention the word (or close enough) twice in their chapter on quotation marks. [5]
  • I think I've seen Inland Printer somewhere before. Same question. This particular page is talking about quotation marks with question marks, not quotation marks with periods and commas. With commas, all it says is "the comma is better placed within the quotation marks." I searched the book for "quotation mark" and "quote" and "aesthetic" and didn't see anything else.
  • I have seen some ABA editorials before, but not this particular one. ABA most certainly did require British style for several decades, but it changed back to American a long time ago.[6]
  • Use of Language looks fascinating, but I can only see a few lines. Do they use "typesetters" as the name of the practice?
I certainly agree that "logical" is one name for the British system, though "British" is more common. My take on that matter would be to say "this system is called 'British' and 'logical' in reliable sources," listing "British" first. My take on using "aesthetic" would be that if the article is to list it as a name for American style, we should have at least a few sources that use "aesthetic" as the name. If you want to quote Nunberg saying, "According to such-and-such-credentials Geoffrey Nunberg, American style has an aesthetic motivation," then you're good to go.
However, I'd say we have to be careful with a lot of the stuff from before 1980 or so. Many of them will be describing the way English was rather than the way it is, and we'd have to be careful to present the information as such.
I have found the name "American" to be extremely common, both as a descriptor and an explicit name. Of the first five hits on Google Books, only one is a false positive, and the sources are of good quality.[7] If it comes to that, we could just line up the sources and count them to decide which name should be listed as the principal name and which as alternatives. Sound good to you? Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:37, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
And just in case this wasn't clear, when I say "did you see them use 'aesthetic' as the name of the practice?" I don't mean "show me a link so I can see for myself or else I'll oppose it." Per Wikipedia policy, sources with links are best but it's not required. If you say you saw them use the term, that's enough for me. I'd say at least two or three sources that say "aesthetic punctuation is" would be enough to say it's a name for the practice. If all the sources that say it are from before a certain year, then my own take would be to say "this was once called 'aesthetic'" rather than present tense. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:12, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
There's a conversation at talk:Quotation marks in English about whether to copy the passage on this page. Your input would probably be highly relevant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:45, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

I REALLY don't like the current wording that changed from "American English" to "in American and Canada". Where's the source for this? Based on the history, I'm pretty sure it's wrong. As Darkfrog24 pointed out, the so-called British style was new in the early 20th century, when Fowler and Fowler advocated for it, so it seems extremely unlike that this practice is dead in the British English world, nor does it seem likely that locations outside of North America that are influenced by American English do not commonly adopt this practice. I've already complained about the vaguely inaccurate American English above, but this just makes it worse. By further narrowing it, with absolutely no sourcing, you create the very strong impression (partly from existing stereotypes) that the dumb Americans have messed up the language again, when it is in fact the Americans (primarily) preserving the older usage.

I've argued for "logical" and "aesthetic" instead of British and American. At this point, I'm willing to concede the issue, and go with American English and British English (or Commonwealth English), as these terms are well-understood. But only if the text makes it quite clear that it is in fact the British/logical style that is a change from traditional usage. Also, only if it is clarified that the use of terms American English and British English are not strict, that is, that many Americans advocate for logical style, and it seems likely to me (based on the history, not based on sources at this point, sorry), that many speakers of British/Commonwealth English may well preserve the more traditional, so-called American quoting style.

I'm also willing to concede that the sources I find do not explicitly call the American style a typographic or aesthetic style in a nomiinative manner (they only use it descriptively, not as a name). But, so many of these sources use aesthetic/typographic/typesetter/compositor to describe the practice that it would not be responsible to emphasize that aesthetics are the popularly given reason for the traditional/American style of quoting. Battling McGook (talk) 06:03, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

To me it seems clear that "British," "American" and "logical" are all three common enough to merit inclusion here. I don't like the term "logical," but the sources do. I wouldn't use "logical" and "aesthetic" instead of the other names. As for "in American English" and "in British English," I prefer that to "in America," etc. as well. "In American/British English" is the terminology used by Oxford Dictionaries but also others, such as University of Minnesota. A quick turn on Google Books also turned up these: St. Martin's Handbook Phrasebook for Writing Papers and Research in English, and there were more.
I agree that the text should say that British/logical came second. Doesn't it do that in the passage that cites Fowler?
It sounds like you want to expand the section on national crossover. What did you have in mind?
If your sources use either of those terms descriptively, why not just pick a reputable one and quote it directly? Nunberg seemed pretty credible. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:42, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I concur with the Battling McGoo, and I think Dicklyon would agree, that the nationalistic and confusing/confused changes (which is not everything) implemented by Darkfrog24 should be reverted, though this will be complicated given the number of intervening edits. The proposal at Talk:Quotation marks in English to merge part of one article into the other should be deferred until after similar post-topic-ban cleanup work is done at that article, and both are properly sourced, neutral, and free of original research.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:27, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Why leave out "in British English"?[edit]

The parenthetical phrases "full stop (in British English) or period (in American English)" seem to me to be an asset to the article and I think we should keep them. @Zhongguoyingdu: what's your reason for this change? Do you know of an essayist or source that says "full stop" isn't really British or as limited to British as it seems to me? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:18, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

I agree completely. It's particularly frustrating since modern and historic American usage matches historic British usage, it's only modern British usage that has favored "full stop".
Both forms are several centuries old. Full Stop vs Period Zhongguoyingdu (talk) 08:55, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
Also, this is the fourth time this user has attempted this same edited, and it has been undone each time. If this continues, this should be escalated in some fashion. Battling McGook (talk) 02:07, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
Fully concur with both of you on this one. "Full stop" in contemporary American English is what you do with a motor vehicle to avoid getting a ticket for running a red light, not a punctuation mark. Anyone who uses it to refer to punctuation is automatically assumed to be British or a fan of British culture. The article should reflect that important difference. --Coolcaesar (talk) 04:24, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
@Coolcaesar:Outside the U.S.,'Period' in contemporary English usage refers to the discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the female genitalia. Anyone who uses it to refer to the punctuation is automatically assumed to be American or a fan of American culure.Zhongguoyingdu (talk) 08:35, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
Actually it's by no means limited to the menstrual meaning. "Period" means "length of time" across the English language. You'll hear British scholars referring to "the Medieval period." Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:34, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
FYI the same user made the same edit on the Exclamation Mark page, which I undid. Unfortunately someone else undid my undo... sigh. I did add a section on that users' talk page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Battling McGook (talkcontribs) 04:33, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: For the simple fact that Full Stop is the preferred terminology in most English-speaking countries. I do not intend to start a war but calling Full Stop British is a gross generalisation in every sense of the word as it quite clearly transcends British usage.Zhongguoyingdu (talk) 08:09, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
That doesn't sound completely implausible. Can you offer sources to support this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:34, 10 October 2015 (UTC)
Can you offer any that actually demonstrate that everyone in former British colonies accepts their English being labeled "British"? Whether you have favored sources who like to apply nationalistic labels or not, there's clearly a bias issue here, and a problem of misleading readers into think it has something to do with UK in particular.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:14, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I have a problem with this (aside from the fact that I know it is not supportable). Even if it were true, it doesn't belong on Wikipedia. I say this because I've seen this come up before. Regardless of who is the majority, you have a split audience. Suppose we were supposed to find the majority, how do we decide? He says "most countries" and is probably right. Why? Because British English dialect is more common in a many small countries. American English dialect is common in fewer, larger countries. So should we try to count by number of people? Or should we try to count by number of publications with each usage? There is no source that can settle this issue to anyone's satisfaction. This is why the language used on Wikipedia has to address both audiences in an unbiased way.
Note also that this is not an issue where one term is widely understood throughout the world, and the other regional. The definitions in British and American English are essentially reversed. In American English, "period" is the punctuation in all uses, and widely understood, while "full stop" is either not understood, or narrowly understood as the period only at the end of a sentence. In British English, the usage is 100% reversed. A "full stop" is the punctuation in any use, "period" is rarely used for it, but when it is, it is narrowly understood as only the end of a sentence.. Historic usage in both countries matches American English.
As far as that nitpick about "British" being a gross generalization, that is completely wrong. "British English" is widely recognized as the name of an English dialect, which is spoken in Britain as well as a great number of other countries. Similarly "American English" refers to a different dialect used in American and other countries. The terms reflect the origin of the dialects, not simply where they are spoken. Battling McGook (talk) 03:04, 11 October 2015 (UTC)
It's not "American" vs. "British". The term "period" is used pretty consistently throughout most English dialects in the Western Hemisphere (except for some isolated, heavily British-influenced Caribbean ones) including Canadian English (and probably also in some places where English is used to some extent and with a strong American influence, as in the Philippines and Liberia, though it's hard to find material on style in these varieties; I've been looking). "Full stop" (or "full point", when the "dot" is used in an role other than ending a sentence) is used fairly but decreasingly consistently in the rest of the entire English-speaking world (i.e. in Commonwealth English broadly construed, aside from Canada, and in the variants used in some non-Commonwealth countries, like Irish English). The decrease may have something to do with Hollywood's spread of the "...period!" (i.e. "...and that's that!") idiom. At any rate, the usage in "International English", "World English", "Euro-English" and other largely bureaucratic and pedagogical variants is mixed.

Are both terms familiar enough that we need to say nothing about usage? I'm skeptical, and suspect we should retain parenthetical notes, not delete them as someone's been editwarring to do. But branding one "American" and the other "British" is foolhardy and misleading (at least without a clear explanation that we mean something broader by them, as was used in the lead at Glossary of cue sports terms). WP does not exist for perpetuation of prescriptivist, nationalistic flag-waving. As in all our language articles, our role is linguistic description following the reliable sources (the sources that actually do the research to get the facts, not primary-source punditry). WP's role in all articles is descriptive, not prescriptive or activistic. The above claims that "British English" is a universally acceptable label for all English usage that descends from British usage is absurd on its face, since all English including American would therefore be "British"! More to the immediate point about appropriateness, the speakers of Irish English (except perhaps in Northern Ireland) will not at all appreciate or agree with being labelled as speakers of "British English". Nor will more than small fraction of any Canadians ever agree they use "American English". This "There are only two Englishes and they are national" oversimplification is getting tiresome and divisive, and really needs to stop. It would probably make sense to describe "full point/stop" as mainly Commonwealth usage, and "period" as mostly North American. That covers most of the cases without being pedantic, and still leaving wiggle-room for places like the British West Indies. (The World Englishes material I have on hand so far rarely addresses punctuation matters at all, mostly just grammatical/syntactical, phonological, morphological, and semantic differences. I'm not certain anyone is actually studying minutiae of punctuation variation regionally – which means WP shouldn't dwell on it.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:14, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Clapton example[edit]

I picked Eric Clapton because he's English and has a recognizable nickname. I figured that made a good parallel with the other performer. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:16, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

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