Full stop

This article is about the punctuation mark. For other uses, see Full stop (disambiguation). For other uses of the term "period", see Period (disambiguation).
Full stop

In punctuation, the full stop (Commonwealth English) or period (American English) is a punctuation mark placed at the end of a sentence. The stop glyph is sometimes called a baseline dot because, typographically, it is a dot on the baseline. This term distinguishes the baseline dot from the interpunct (a raised dot).[1][2]

The full stop glyph is also used for other purposes. It is often placed after an initial letter used to stand for a name, and sometimes placed after each individual letter in an initialism (for example, "U.S.A."; see Acronym#Punctuation). It also has multiple contexts in mathematics and computing, where it may be called dot or point (short for decimal point).[1]


The full stop symbol derives from the Greek punctuation introduced by Aristophanes of Byzantium in the 3rd century BC, In his system, there were a series of dots whose placement determined their meaning, The full stop at the end of a completed thought or expression was marked by a high dot ⟨˙⟩, called the stigmḕ teleía (στιγμὴ τελεία) or "terminal dot", The "middle dot" ⟨·⟩, the stigmḕ mésē (στιγμὴ μέση), marked a division in a thought occasioning a longer breath (essentially a semicolon) and the low dot ⟨.⟩, called the hypostigmḕ (ὑποστιγμή) or "underdot", marked a division in a thought occasioning a shorter breath (essentially a comma).[3] In practice, scribes mostly employed the full stop; the others fell out of use and were later replaced by other symbols, From the 9th century, the full stop began appearing as a low mark instead of a high one; by the advent of printing in Western Europe, the low mark was regular and then universal.[3]

The name "period" is first attested (as the Latin loanword peridos) in Ælfric of Eynsham's Old English treatment on grammar, There, it is distinguished from the full stop (the distinctio) and continues the Greek "underdot"'s earlier function as a comma between phrases.[4] It shifted its meaning to a dot marking a full stop in the works of the 16th-century grammarians,[4] In 19th-century texts, both British English and American English were consistent in their usage of the terms "period" and "full stop",[5][6] The word "period" was used as a name for what printers often called the "full point" or the punctuation mark that was a dot on the baseline and used in several situations, The phrase "full stop" was only used to refer to the punctuation mark when it was used to terminate a sentence.[6] At some point during the 20th century, British usage diverged, adopting "full stop" as the more generic term, while American English continued to retain the traditional usage.


Full stops are one of the most commonly used punctuation marks; analysis of texts indicate that approximately half of all punctuation marks used are full stops.[7][8]

Ending sentences

Full stops are used to indicate the end of sentences which are not questions or exclamations.

Full stops after initials

It is usual to use full stops after initials; A. A. Milne,[9] George W. Bush.[10]


A full stop is used after some abbreviations.[11] If the abbreviation ends a declaratory sentence there is no additional period immediately following the full stop that ends the abbreviation (e.g. "My name is Gabriel Gama, Jr."). This is called haplography. Though two full stops (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending) might be expected, conventionally only one is written. In the case of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence ending with an abbreviation, a question or exclamation mark can still be added (e.g. "Are you Gabriel Gama, Jr.?").

Abbreviations and personal titles of address

According to the Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation, "If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in 'Mister' ["Mr"] and 'Doctor' ["Dr"], a full stop is not used."[12][13] This does not include, for example, the standard abbreviations for titles such as Professor ("Prof.") or Reverend ("Rev."), because they do not end with the last letter of the word they are abbreviating.

Among Americans, however, the common convention is to include the period after these abbreviations.[13]

Acronyms and initialisms

In acronyms and initialisms, full stops are somewhat more often placed after each initial in American English (for example, U.S. and U.S.S.R.) than in British English (US and USSR), but this depends much upon the house style of a particular writer or publisher.[14] The American Chicago Manual of Style now deprecates the use of full stops in acronyms.[15]


The period glyph is used in the presentation of numbers, but in only one of two alternate styles at a time.

In the more prevalent usage in English-speaking countries it represents a decimal separator, visually dividing whole numbers from fractional (decimal) parts. The comma is then used to separate the whole-number parts into groups of three digits each, when numbers are sufficiently large.

  • 1.007 (one and seven thousandths)
  • 1,002.007 (one thousand two and seven thousandths)
  • 1,002,003.007 (one million two thousand three and seven thousandths)

The more prevalent usage in much of Europe, Southern Africa, and Latin America (with the exception of Mexico due to the influence of the United States), reverses the roles of the comma and full stop glyph, but sometimes substitutes a space for a full stop.

  • 1,007 (one and seven thousandths)
  • 1.002,007 or 1 002,007 (one thousand two and seven thousandths)
  • 1.002.003,007 or 1 002 003,007 (one million two thousand three and seven 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 impractical in cases where the full stop is used as a decimal separator, hence the use of the interpunct: 5.2 · 2 = 10.4. This notation is also seen when multiplying units in science; for example, 50 km/h could be written as 50 km·h−1. However, in all countries the full stop is used to indicate a dot product, i.e. the scalar product of two vectors.


In computing, the full stop is often used as a delimiter (commonly called a "dot"), such as in DNS lookups, web addresses, and file names:


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 program. In Erlang, Prolog, and Smalltalk, it marks the end of a statement ("sentence"). In a regular expression, it represents a match of any character. In Perl and PHP, the full stop is the string concatenation operator. In the Haskell standard library, the full stop is the function composition operator.

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 and the Windows NT systems that succeeded them.

In Unix-like operating systems, some applications treat files or directories that start with a full stop as hidden. This means that 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 command to read a file and execute its content in the running interpreter. (Some of these also offer source as a synonym, based on that usage in the C-shell.)


The term STOP was used in telegrams in place of the full stop. The end of a sentence would be marked by STOP, because punctuation cost extra, despite the additional time and bandwidth required to key the four letters in "STOP".[16]

Punctuation styles when quoting

The practice in the United States and Canada is to place full stops and commas inside quotation marks in most styles.[17] In the British system, which is also called "logical quotation",[18] full stops and commas are placed according to grammatical sense:[17][19] This means that when they are part of the quoted material, they should be placed inside, and otherwise should be outside. For example, they are placed outside in the cases of words-as-words, titles of short-form works, and quoted sentence fragments.

There is some national crossover. American style is common in British fiction writing.[20] British style is sometimes used in American English. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends it for fields in which comma placement could affect the meaning of the quoted material, such as linguistics and textual criticism.[21][22]

Use of placement according to logical or grammatical sense, or "logical convention", now the more common practice in regions other than North America,[23] was advocated in the influential book The King's English by Fowler and Fowler, published in 1906. Prior to the influence of this work, the typesetter's or printer's style, or "closed convention", now also called American style, was common throughout the world.

Spacing after a full stop

Main article: Sentence spacing

There have been a number of practices relating to the spacing after a full stop. Some examples are listed below:

Full stops in other scripts

Although the present Greek full stop (τελεία, teleía) is romanized as a Latin full stop[32] and encoded identically with the full stop in Unicode,[3] the historic full stop in Greek was a high dot and the low dot functioned as a kind of comma, as noted above. The low dot was increasingly but irregularly used to mark full stops after the 9th century and was fully adapted after the advent of print.[3] The teleia should also be distinguished from the ano teleia mark, which is named "high stop" but looks like an interpunct (a middle dot) and principally functions as the Greek semicolon.

The Armenian script uses the ։ (վերջակետ - verdjaket). It looks similar to the : (semicolon), but has always round dots.

In some East Asian languages, notably Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used instead of a solid dot: "。" (U+3002 "Ideographic Full Stop", Chinese: 句號). Notably, in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao usage, the full stop is written at center height instead of on the line.

In the Devanagari script, used to write Hindi and Sanskrit among 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) in Hindi and 'Daa`ri' in Bengali. Some Indian languages also use the full stop, such as Marathi. In Tamil it is known as "Mutrupulli", which means End Dot.[33]

In Sinhala, it is known as kundaliya: "෴" ((U+0DF4) symbol "full stop"). Periods were later introduced into Sinhala script after the introduction of paper due to the influence of Western languages. See also Sinhala numerals.

Urdu uses the "۔" (U+06D4) symbol.

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

In the Ge'ez script used to write Amharic and several other Ethiopian and Eritrean languages, the equivalent of the full stop following a sentence is the ˈarat nettib "።" which means "four dots". The two dots on the right are slightly ascending from the two on the left, with space in between them.


The character is encoded at U+002E . FULL STOP (HTML .).


In text messages

Researchers from Binghamton University performed a small study, published in 2016, on young adults and found that text messages that included sentences ended with full stops—as opposed to those with no terminal punctuation—were perceived as insincere, though they stipulated that their results apply only to this particular medium of communication: "Our sense was, is that because [text messages] were informal and had a chatty kind of feeling to them, that a period may have seemed stuffy, too formal, in that context," said head researcher Cecelia Klin.[34] The study did not find handwritten notes to be affected.[35]

A 2016 story by Jeff Guo in The Washington Post, however, stated that the line break had become the default method of punctuation in texting, comparable to the use of line breaks in poetry, and that a period at the end of a sentence causes the tone of the message to be perceived as cold, angry or passive-aggressive.[36]

See also


  1. 1 2 Williamson, Amelia A. "Period or Comma? Decimal Styles over Time and Place" (PDF). Science Editor. 31 (2): 42–43. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
  2. Truss, Lynn (2004). Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham Books. p. 25. ISBN 1-59240-087-6.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Nicolas, Nick. "Greek Unicode Issues: Punctuation". 2005. Accessed 7 Oct 2014.
  4. 1 2 Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "period, n., adj., and adv." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2005,
  5. The Workshop: printing for amateurs. The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, And Journal of the Household vol. 13. 6 November 1875. p. 333. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  6. 1 2 The Punctuation Points. Amiecan Printer and Lithographer v. 24 no.6. August 1897. p. 278. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  7. A Comparison of the Frequency of Number/Punctuation and Number/Letter Combinations in Literary and Technical Materials
  8. Charles F. Meyer (1987). A Linguistic Study of American Punctuation. Peter Lang Publishing, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-8204-0522-3., referenced in Frequencies for English Punctuation Marks
  9. Cindy Barden Grammar, Grades 4-5 2007 p9 "Use a period after a person's initials. Examples: A. A. Milne L.B.Peep W157 Use Periods With Initials Name. Initials are abbreviations for parts of a person's name. Date: Add periods at the ends of sentences, after abbreviations, and after initials".
  10. The Brief Thomson Handbook David Blakesley, Jeffrey Laurence Hoogeveen – 2007 -p477 "Use periods with initials: George W. Bush Carolyn B. Maloney
  11. New Hart's Rules: The handbook of style for writers and editors. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-861041-6.
  12. Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation by John Seely.
  13. 1 2 "Punctuation in Abbreviations". Oxford Dictionaries Language Matters. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  14. Initialisms Oxford Dictionaries Online.
  15. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.
  16. Julian Borger in Washington (2006-02-03). "Julian Borger in The Guardian, February 3, 2006". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  17. 1 2 Chelsea Lee (2011). "Punctuating Around Quotation Marks" (blog). Style Guide of the American Psychological Association. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  18. "Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies – Style Guide" (PDF). U. of Aberdeen, Scotland: Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-04-10. Retrieved 2015-09-15. Punctuation marks are placed inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the punctuation is part of the quotation; this system is referred to as logical quotation.
  19. "Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers" (PDF). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. 2002. Retrieved 2015-09-04. In the British style (OUP 1983), all signs of punctuation used with words and quotation marks must be placed according to the sense.
  20. Butcher, Judith; et al. (2006). Butcher's Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-521-84713-1.
  21. Stephen Wilbers. "Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Punctuation" (web site). Retrieved 2015-09-10. The British style is strongly advocated by some American language experts. In defense of nearly a century and a half of the American style, however, it may be said that it seems to have been working fairly well and has not resulted in serious miscommunication. Whereas there clearly is some risk with question marks and exclamation points, there seems little likelihood that readers will be misled concerning the period or comma. There may be some risk in such specialized material as textual criticism, but in that case author and editors may take care to avoid the danger by alternative phrasing or by employing, in this exacting field, the exacting British system. In linguistic and philosophical works, specialized terms are regularly punctuated the British way, along with the use of single quotation marks. [quote attributed to Chicago Manual of style, 14th ed.]
  22. Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2003-07-07. pp. 6.8–6.10. ISBN 0-226-10403-6. According to what is sometimes called the British style (set forth in The Oxford Guide to Style [the successor to Hart's Rules]; see bibliog. 1.1.]), a style also followed in other English-speaking countries, only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. ... In the kind of textual studies where retaining the original placement of a comma in relation to closing quotation marks is essential to the author's argument and scholarly integrity, the alternative system described in 6.10 ['the British style'] could be used, or rephrasing might avoid the problem.
  23. Weiss, Edmond H. (2015). The Elements of International English Style: A Guide to Writing Correspondence, Reports, Technical Documents Internet Pages For a Global Audience. M. E. Sharpe. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-7656-2830-5. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  24. Einsohn, Amy (2006). The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications (2nd ed.). Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-520-24688-1.
  25. 1 2 Manjoo, Farhad (January 13, 2011). "Space Invaders". Slate.
  26. Heraclitus (1 November 2011). "Why two spaces after a period isn't wrong".
  27. Felici, James (2003). The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-321-12730-7.; Bringhurst, Robert (2004). The Elements of Topographic Style (3.0 ed.). Washington and Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. p. 28. ISBN 0-88179-206-3.
  28. See for example, University of Chicago Press (1911). Manual of Style: A Compilation of Typographical Rules Governing the Publications of The University of Chicago, with Specimens of Types Used at the University Press (Third ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago. p. 101. ISBN 1-145-26446-8.
  29. Mergenthaler Linotype Company (1940). Linotype Keyboard Operation: Methods of Study and Procedures for Setting Various Kinds of Composition on the Linotype. Mergenthaler Linotype Company. ASIN B000J0N06M. cited in Simonson, Mark (5 March 2004). "Double-spacing after Periods". Typophile. Typophile. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  30. Eijkhout, Victor (2008). "TeX by Topic, A TeXnician's Reference" (PDF). Lulu: 185–188.
  31. Felici, James (2003). The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-321-12730-7.; Fogarty, Mignon (2008). Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick and Dirty Tips). New York: Holt Paperbacks. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-8050-8831-1.; Straus, Jane (2009). The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes (10th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-470-22268-3.
  32. Ελληνικός Οργανισμός Τυποποίησης [Ellīnikós Organismós Typopoíīsīs, "Hellenic Organization for Standardization"]. ΕΛΟΤ 743, 2η Έκδοση [ELOT 743, 2ī Ekdosī, "ELOT 743, 2nd ed."]. ELOT (Athens), 2001. (Greek).
  33. ta:முற்றுப்புள்ளி (தமிழ் நடை)
  34. "You Should Watch The Way You Punctuate Your Text Messages — Period". National Public Radio. 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2015-12-20.
  35. Gunraj, Danielle; Drumm-Hewitt, April; Dashow, Erica; Upadhyay, Sri Siddhi; Klim, Celia (February 2016) [2015], "Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging", Computers in Human Behavior, 55: 1067–1075, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.003
  36. Guo, Jeff (June 13, 2016). "Stop. Using. Periods. Period.". The Washington Post.
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