1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Abbreviations

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Oct 14, 2011.

    I'm confused about what to abbreviate. "Mister," "Missus," yes. Abbreviate them when they're salutations (Mr. Green, Mrs. Scarlet) but not when they aren't ("Hey, mr., you dropped a quarter" is rather silly). But I recently came across "vs." in a novel. This wasn't referring to a title (Godzilla vs. Mothra) or anything. It was just regular wording. I think it was even in narration. And by a (perhaps arguably) tier-two writer, John G. Jones, the guy who wrote The Amityville Horror (he's not a New York Times bestseller, but he's got a few books under his belt).

    The sentence was "Battlin' Anne Cunningham vs. a representative from the Psychical Investigations League, one on one." Spoken dialog.

    Are we supposed to abbreviate in this case? Are we even supposed to abbreviate "versus"? This throws off my whole assumptions about abbreviations. What exactly are we supposed to abbreviate? Doctor, colonel...? In dialog, not in dialog, in salutations, not in salutations? Tell me I'm not off my rocker.

    Thanks.
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think when it comes to "Mr./Mrs." etc, when you refer to the person by name, not necessarily just in conversation but anytime. But when you specifically say "Hey Mister" or "Hey Doctor", you spell the whole word out. For things like "verses", I usually just don't abbreviate it at all unless it's specifically in the A vs. B format. But I don't think there are necessarily any hard and fast rules for that.
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think when it comes to "Mr./Mrs." etc, when you refer to the person by name, not necessarily just in conversation but anytime. But when you specifically say "Hey Mister" or "Hey Doctor", you spell the whole word out. For things like "verses", I usually just don't abbreviate it at all unless it's specifically in the A vs. B format. But I don't think there are necessarily any hard and fast rules for that.
     
  4. chellelouj16
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    chellelouj16 New Member

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    I agree with agentkirb about the use of abbreviations. I use Mister/Miss without a name following it but an abbreviation when followed by a name like Mr. Lucas or Mrs. Lucas. But the way "versus" was used in the story was a mistake. I use "vs" only as a title.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i wouldn't recommend using 'vs.' vs. 'versus' in either fiction narrative or dialog... to me, that would be incorrect...
     
  6. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    I spell it out when I'm writing a story, for safety and also because it just right.
     
  7. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I spell everything out, too, and "vs." just looks... bad. But I'm getting the impression that some words can (and probably should) be abbreviated: mister, missus, doctor, professor. I'll continue to spell everything out unless I get my hands on someone or something that can break it down for me.
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Most of my knowledge of this stems from my days as a journalist (AP Style) where you would abbreviate titles (military, civil, etc.) if placed before a name in all circumstances. For example, Sen. Hayes, Master Sgt. Dominic Hayes, Gov. Louis Jensen, or Lt. Col. Fredric O'Brien. However, Chicago Style disagrees with this slightly by saying, "A civil or military title preceding a full name may be abbreviated. Preceding a surname alone, however, it is spelled out." So abbreviations of these titles are optional when dealing with the full name, but not otherwise. For example, Senator Hayes, Master Sgt. Dominic Hayes, Master Sergeant Hayes, Gov. Louis Jensen, Governor Jensen, Lieutenant Colonel O'Brien, or Lieutenant Colonel Fredric O'Brien.

    The above does not answer your question about social titles though. For social titles, Chicago Style says, "Always abbreviated, whether preceding the full name or surname only...." You do not, however, abbreviate social titles if they are used without a name. For example, Mr. Hayes, Mr. Dominic Hayes, Ms. Patricia Ludwell, Mrs. Laura Franks, and Dr. Meyers. But if used in direct address without the name, spell them out: mister, mister, miss, missus, and doctor.

    Hope that helps.

    Edit: I would only use "vs." if it was part of a title and spell it out otherwise.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    For what it's worth, "Mrs." is not spelled out "missus". It's an abbreviation for "mistress", but no one ever uses anything but the abbreviation any more.
     
  10. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Missus, missis, and mistress all mean the same thing. The former two came about because that's how it sounds spoken. In formal context though, one should use mistress. The other two would be okay otherwise, especially in dialogue.
     
  11. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Yes, it does. Thanks!

    Edit: So, just to be clear, we abbreviate military titles as well? (I know you mentioned them in your days as a journalist, but what about fiction?) Also, what about common foreign titles, such as senor?
     
  12. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    According to Chicago Style, military titles are optional. You can abbreviate them with the full name (your choice ... Col. Frank Moore or Colonel Frank Moore), but if you only use or possess the surname, you spell them out (Colonel Moore). Not sure I agree with that logic, but that's from the style book I use most often these days. AP Style was slightly different, and you would abbreviate the title if it fell before a name regardless and that consistency logic has kind of stayed with me (and I would want to abbreviate it every time before a name). Now, I would say to spell them out in all cases to remain consistent (in fiction). Definitely spell them out if they do not precede a name.

    Edit: If the military title begins the sentence, too, it is spelled out (or at least the first word (e.g., Lieutenant Col. instead of Lt. Col.).

    For foreign titles, I'm not entirely sure. I don't possess a great deal of knowledge of foreign languages, even the more common passages, phrases, and titles. Chicago style strongly recommends to capitalize foreign titles, unless you do not know if it should be capitalized or not (as some are required to be lowercase), and in that case, seek an expert. :)
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't use 'vs.' except reporting what is on a poster or some such, but I might use 'v.' in dialog because some people actually say v. ('vee') for 'versus'. If you know of people who somehow say 'vs.' (how does one pronounce it?) then maybe you could use 'vs.'.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you'd capitalize 'mr.' then you would also have to do so for 'senor' or 'senorita' and so on, if it's part of the person's name... but not if used alone, without the name...
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Thanks, everyone. Just to make sure I have it right, we can abbreviate Mister, Missus, Miss, Doctor, but everything else is optional or not to be abbreviated, including foreign titles?
     

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