Humanities › English Initial letter Share Flipboard Email Print (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images) English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated January 09, 2020 An initial is the first letter of each word in a proper name. Guidelines for using initials in reports, research papers, and bibliographies (or reference lists) vary according to the academic discipline and appropriate style manual. EtymologyFrom the Latin, "standing at the beginning" Examples and Observations Amy Einsohn: Most style manuals call for spacing between initials in a personal name: A. B. Cherry (not A.B. Cherry). There are no spaces, however, between personal initials that are not followed by periods (FDR, LBJ). Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly: Although full first names with middle initials (if any) are preferred in most copy, two or more initials may be used if that is the preference of the person mentioned: L.P. Arniotis, with a thin space between initials. Pam Peters: The practice of using initials to represent given names has been more common in Europe than in America or Australia. Various celebrated names are rarely given in any other form: C. P. E. Bach, T. S. Eliot, P. G. Wodehouse. In bibliographies and referencing systems (author-date-Vancouver), the use of initials is well established... Both the Chicago Manual of Style (2003) and Copy-editing (1992) use stops after each initial, as well as space, as shown in the names above. But in common usage, the space between initials is being whittled down (C.P.E. Bach, T.S. Eliot, P.G. Wodehouse) making the spacing exactly like that used in initialisms. . . . The practice of using an initial as well as a given name, as in J. Arthur Rank, Dwight D. Eisenhower is more widespread in the US than in the UK. Kate Stone Lombardi: Take the League of Women Voters. The group was founded in 1920 during a convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, held only six months before the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote... [T]hose at the state level say that some League officers would like to follow the lead of the AARP, now more recognized for its initials than for the stodgier and sometimes misleading name, the American Association of Retired Persons. The AARP made the change partly because so many of its members, who are as young as 50, are still working. 'We are working hard to put out the logo, LWV,' said Martha Kennedy, state membership chairwoman. Seth Stevenson: In 1985, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network became just ESPN, with no reference to the original meaning. . . . TNN was once the Nashville Network, then became the National Network when it deep-sixed its hootenanny programming.