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apostrophe ( ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( , , , )
ellipses ( , ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( -, )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
spaces ( ) () () ( ) () () ()
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
currency generic: ( ¤ )
specific: ฿, ¢, $, , ƒ, , , , £, , ¥, , , , , , ,
daggers ( , )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
ordinal indicator (º, ª)
percent (etc.) ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright symbol ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( |, ¦ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
falsum ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony mark/percontation point ( ؟ )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )


full stop (British English) or period (American English) [1] (sometimes point or dot) is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences.

The term STOP was used in telegrams in place of the period. The end of a sentence would be marked by STOP, because punctuation cost extra.[2] The end of the entire telegram would be noted by FULL STOP.




A full stop is used after some abbreviations. If the abbreviation ends a declaratory sentence there is no additional full stop immediately following the full stop that ends the abbreviation (e.g., My name is Gabriel Gama, Jr.) This is called haplography. Logically there should be two full stops (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending), but only one is conventionally written. In the case of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence ending with an abbreviation, a question or exclamation mark is still added. (e.g., Are you Gabriel Gama, Jr.?).


In British English, abbreviations of titles often omit a full stop, as in Mr, Dr, Prof, which in American English would be given as Mr., Dr., Prof. The rule 'If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in mister and doctor, a full stop is not used.' is sometimes given,[3] though this does not include Professor.

In this use, the full stop is also occasionally known as a suspension mark. This originates from the old practice of marking the end of an abbreviation with the final letter superscript and a dot beneath it (though still 'suspended' above where a full stop (period) would go. Another use of the suspension mark is still seen on occasion regarding the c in Mc in logos such as Rand McNally.

Acronyms and Initialisms

In initialisms, full stops are somewhat more often placed after each initial in American English (e.g., U.S., U.S.S.R.) than in British English (e.g., US, USSR);[citation needed] . However, for acronyms that are pronounced like words (e.g., NATO), full stops are omitted in American English.[citation needed]

Mathematical usage

The same glyph has two separate uses with regard to numbers, the one applied being determined by the country it is used in: as a decimal separator and in presenting large numbers in a more readable form. In most English-speaking countries, the full stop has the former usage while a comma or a space is used for the latter usage

  • 1,000,000 (One million)
  • 1,000.000 (One thousand and zero thousandths)

However, in much of Europe and Latin America, with the exception of Mexico due to United States's influence, a comma is used as a decimal separator, while a full stop or a space is used for the presentation of large numbers:

  • 1.000.000 (One million)
  • 1.000,000 or 1 000,000 (One thousand and zero thousandths)

In countries that use the comma as a decimal separator, the full stop is sometimes found as a multiplication sign, for example: 5,2 . 2 = 10,4. This usage is impossible in countries that use the full stop as a decimal separator, hence the use of the interpunct: 5.2 · 2 = 10.4.[citation needed]. It is still fairly common to use this notation when multiplying units in science, for example 50 km/h could be written as 50 km·h-1.

Punctuation styles when quoting

The traditional convention in American English and in Canada is so-called "aesthetic" punctuation, or "typesetters' quotation," where full stops and commas are included inside quotation marks even if they are not part of the quoted sentence. This style is also used in the UK. Another style used in the UK, and to a less extent in the U.S., is so-called "logical punctuation," which stays true to the punctuation used by the original source, placing commas and full stops inside or outside quotation marks depending on where they were placed in the material that is being quoted. As such, it involves a greater degree of precision from writers when done correctly. Scientific and technical publications, including in the U.S., almost universally use it for that reason.

The aesthetic or typesetter's rule was standard in early 19th-century Britain; it was advocated, for example, by the extremely influential The King’s English, by Fowler and Fowler.

  • "Carefree" means "free from care or anxiety." (aesthetic or typesetters' style)
  • "Carefree" means "free from care or anxiety". (logical style used here because the full stop was not part of the original quotation)

In logical style, both single and double quotation marks are possible, but more modern style guides like the BBC’s tend to prefer the latter.[4]

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.[5] Typesetters' style still adheres to this older tradition in formal writing. It is always taught to American schoolchildren when they learn how to draft prose, and is strictly observed in most books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, as well as in personal correspondence between educated Americans.

References: Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition; Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford.

Spacing after full stop

There have been a number of conventions relating to the number of spaces used to separate sentences within the same paragraph. Some examples are listed below:

  • One space (French Spacing). This is the current convention in countries that use the modern Latin alphabet for published and final written work, as well as digital (World Wide Web) media.
  • Double space (English Spacing). The two space convention stems from the use of the monospaced font on typewriters to approximate an em space. This historical convention was carried on by tradition until its widespread replacement by the single space convention in published print and digital media today.
  • One widened space, typically one-and-a-third to slightly less than two times wider than an inter-word space (traditional typography)

Note that the term double spacing can also refer to a style of leading: the insertion of a full additional empty line between lines of text. This is commonly used for text which may require markup or annotations, such as a draft manuscript in academic use or for a copyeditor.

Asian full stop

In some Asian languages, notably Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used instead of a solid dot: "。" (U+3002 "Ideographic Full Stop").

In the Devanagari script used to write Hindi, Sanskrit and some other Indian languages a vertical line (“।”) (U+0964 “Devanagari Danda”) is used to mark the end of a sentence. In Hindi it is known as poorna viraam (full stop). Some Indian languages also use the full-stop such as Marathi. In Tamil it is known as "Mutrupulli" which means End Dot.

In Thai, no symbol corresponding to full stop is used as sentence marker. A sentence is written without spaces and a space is typically used to mark the end of a clause or sentence.

Internet addresses

In Canada, the Editing Canadian English, [5.32] defined running text, angle brackets around the address enable a distinction between the punctuation of the address and that of the sentence: for example, <>.

Computing use

In computing, the full stop is often used as a delimiter commonly called a "dot", for example in DNS lookups and file names. For example:

In computer programming, the full stop corresponds to Unicode and ASCII character 46, or 0x2E. It is used in many programming languages as an important part of the syntax. C uses it as a means of accessing a member of a struct, and this syntax was inherited by C++ as a means of accessing a member of a class or object. Java and Python also follow this convention. Pascal uses it both as a means of accessing a member of a record set (the equivalent of struct in C), a member of an object and after the end construct which defines the body of the application. In a regular expression, it represents a match of any character.

In file systems, the full stop is commonly used to separate the extension of a file name from the name of the file. RISC OS uses full stops to separate levels of the hierarchical file system when writing path names - similar to / in Unix-based systems and \ in MS-DOS-based systems.

In Unix-like operating systems, some applications treat files or directories that start with a "." as hidden, meaning, they are not displayed or listed to the user by default.

In Unix-like systems and Microsoft Windows, the dot character represents the working directory of the file system. Two dots (..) represent the parent directory of the working directory.

Bourne shell-derived command-line interpreters such as sh, ksh, and Bash, use the dot as a synonym for the source command, which reads a file and executes its content in the running interpreter.

See also


  1. ^ The term full stop is rarely used by speakers in Canada, and virtually never in the United States. In American English, the phrase "full stop" is used only in the context of transport to describe the process of completely halting the motion of a vehicle.See, e.g., Seaboard Air Line Railway Co. v. Blackwell, 244 U.S. 310 (1917)("under the laws of the state a train is required to come to a full stop 50 feet from the crossing"), and Chowdhury v. City of Los Angeles, 38 Cal. App. 4th 1187 (1995) ("Once the signals failed, the City could reasonably foresee that motorists using due care would obey the provisions of the Vehicle Code and make a full stop before proceeding when it was safe to do so").
  2. ^ Julian Borger in The Guardian, February 3, 2006
  3. ^ Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation by John Seely.
  4. ^ BBC Writing Style Guidelines p. 17
  5. ^ AUE: FAQ excerpt: ", vs ,"

External links

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