[Taxacom] Best usage - spp (no period) or spp.?

Sean Edwards sean.r.edwards at btinternet.com
Tue Oct 9 11:06:14 CDT 2012

Well, sorry if this has been already covered -- I tended to dip out and 
delete when the puns got too irritating.

At the risk of getting serious, Stephen's is the first reply that stated 
what I was always taught and practised: Wikipedia's "In British English 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_English>, according to Hart's 
Rules <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart%27s_Rules>, the general rule is 
that abbreviations (in the narrow sense that includes only words with 
the ending, and not the middle, dropped) terminate with a full stop 
(period), whereas contractions (in the sense of words missing a middle 
part) do not." For example "Mr", "Dr" and so on. But "Prof." and "Rev.". 
This, for example, neatly distinguishes "St" (Saint) from "St." 
(Street), should you ever -- improbably -- be confused as to which was 

Interestingly, when I transcribed all of Richard Spruce's hand-written 
letters at Manchester in 1994, it was necessary to represent his 
Victorian way of abbreviating. He abbreviated words with the centre 
omitted and the end superscripted over a point -- as well as 
straight-forward truncating with a point.

I listed 14 notes on the transcription, the first of which was: "1)    
Spruce regularly abbreviates words by omitting part and terminating the 
word with the last letter(s) written superscript over a point (or 
perhaps sometimes a hyphen, or occasionally nothing at all); these are 
all transcribed with a point preceding the last letter(s) typed in 
normal size. On other occasions Spruce abbreviates a word by 
substituting the last part with a point, and this distinction I have 
maintained." Examples would be transcribed as "Jun.r" and "M.r", "Yours 
obed.y", "descr.n" (description), "c.d" (could), "gath.d", "exam.d" 
(examined), &c.. Although superscripting is quite possible in 
word-processing (even in 1994 -- and even with a typewriter), the 
point-in-the-middle works quickly and well to show where the omission 
was, because it was important to convey as accurately as reasonably 
possible what Spruce had written. Old fashioned maybe, but logical and 
clear. A more modern variant uses an inverted comma for an internal 
omission, particularly for a penultimate "e" as in push'd, also for 
longer omissions such as "c'd". It's about all you can do for OCR'd.

Spruce was somewhat inconsistent, using either "D.r" or "Dr." for 
Doctor, and "D.r" as in Dear Sir. He would use e.g. "H." or "H.m" for 
the moss /Hypnum/.

However, when not transcribing so punctiliously (...), most older people 
I know over here use Hart's Rules.


P.S.: Incidentally, the Spruce document is now available in Acrobat, 
64,256 words, 1,235 KB. I hyperlink-indexed of all his taxa (666 
entries) using expanded names. However, to my knowledge, it has never 
been published, including on the web. A pity because it is a remarkable 
insight into one of our best Victorian botanists. But I'm sure that 
Herb. MANCH would make it available if asked. My version was last edited 
21 October 2002.

P.P.S.: I'd go for "spp.". Period. But "cf." (conferre) rather than 
"c.f.". Illogical?


Sean Edwards, Thursley, UK, email:sean.r.edwards at btinternet.com

On 09/10/2012 03:54, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> Tony,
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbreviation#Periods_.28full_stops.29_and_spaces
> Stephen
> ________________________________
> From:"Tony.Rees at csiro.au"  <Tony.Rees at csiro.au>

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