To Abbreviate or Not to Abbreviate…

That may or may not be the question flying high at the top of your list of daily inquiries and musings.  However, proper abbreviation etiquette can be really useful information when in the stationery and card business, or also when working towards addressing correspondence, invitations, and holiday cards.

So, the low down on abbreviations:

Honestly, the etiquette experts report that it really is never appropriate to abbreviate in a formal setting.  Names are always spelled out completely, as are titles and specifications associated with names.  For example: Doctor, Junior, and Senior are terms that should absolutely be spelled out completely.  Interestingly, when addressing a doctor, only a medical doctor’s  title should be mentioned on a formal invitation.  Apparently the etiquette experts of society see no need to recognize doctorate degrees, such as PhD’s.

Street names and specifications (street, avenue, court, drive) should also be noted in entirety. 

Rather than using the terms AM and PM when indicating time on invitations and the like, the time is to be spelled without numerical reference and the morning or afternoon/evening specified only when not otherwise implied.  Eight o’clock in the morning, for instance, may be wisely included to ensure guests are aware that the event is a morning event and not an evening occasion.  Two o’clock, on the other hand, needs no further information, as most guests are aware that this would indicate an afternoon date.  Formal rules do allow for a few exceptions, but generally stick rather solidly to the conventions outlined above.


There are many abbreviations that many of us see on a regular basis, but we may or may not be aware of the true meaning or origin.

  • RSVP is short for, respondez, s’il vous plait, which means, simply, “Please respond” in French. That means you should respond either way, whether you’re able to make it or not.   Be sure to respond by the indicated deadline, in order to help the host/hostess properly plan.
  • P.S. is Latin for post scriptum, or “after what has already been written.”  This is used at the end of correspondence, after the signature.
  • i.e, or id est, in Latin, or “that is,” “in other words.”  This may be used for clarification after the introduction of a new idea or uncertain term.
  • e.g., or exempli gratia in Latin, “ for instance or for example.”  Again, this may be helpful when working to define or clarify.

                                                                                            (Posted by Ashley)

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