A guide comparing Associated Press style and Chicago style for editors, writers, teachers, students, word nerds, and anyone else who gives a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style.


You'd think that a post covering initials would be about seven words long, but, as always, Chicago had a lot to say.

AP (p. 142): Periods, no space. I win!
  • L.J. Horner

Chicago: Periods, space! Except when . . . crap.
  • L. R. R. Hood (10.12)
  • FDR (initials used alone, 8.4)
  • MJ (entire name abbreviated, 10.12)
  • President O. (name abbreviated, 7.62)
  • J.-P. Sartre (hyphenated name, 8.7)
  • H.D. (special case for pen name, 14.73)

Here's a tip on how to remember this basic distinction (space or no space):
  • Chicago treats initials as normal, spelled-out names, which have a space in between.
  • Due to the nature of newspapers and Web pages, AP runs initials together to prevent them from accidentally breaking across two lines.

For Chicago style, to keep the initials together (with space intact), either manually insert a line break before or after the set of initials—preferably before, to keep the entire name together—or use a nonbreaking space between the letters.

At least AP and Chicago are both in agreement about not dividing initials, so let's end on that high note.

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