PS or P.S.?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Thomas Tompion, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Do people regard it as wrong these days to drop the full stops in P.S.?

    We are asked to write as correctly as we know here, and until today I've always put the full stops, but they look and feel very fussy to me, particularly on the web, for some reason.

    My practice, I think, is in an email to put PS. The full stop not to mark an abbreviation, but the end of an (albeit short) sentence. In a letter, I'd probably put P.S. still. I'm very tempted here to put PS., but that seems to run against our formal instructions.

    What do people feel?
  2. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    If you read it as the abbreviation of two Latin words (Post Scriptum) it should be written with two full stops: "P.S.", however some dictionaries suggest that PS is the abbreviation of postscript and therefore no full stop is required.
  3. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
  4. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Hi Loob,

    Thank you very much. I had been a good boy and looked carefully at that thread, but it didn't address my particular problem, though Wordsmith used PS. at the end of post 16# and nobody fainted, or even commented on the fact.

    I think this is a rather different case to Mr and Dr. It's closer to BBC, but I'm not sure they are strictly parallel.

    What do you do?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  5. airportzombie

    airportzombie Senior Member

    English - CaE/AmE
    In this day and age of technology, is it even necessary to have postscripts when one can go back into the email before sending it? I can still see its usefulness in a completed handwritten letter, however.

    PS - I actually do use postscripts in my email, it just dawned on me that I really don't need them (if I weren't lazy, that is).

    PPS - And I don't use periods.
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I hardly ever use full stops with abbreviations or sets of initials, TT: I had it beaten out of me in my civil service days.

    So I would never add a P.S. to something; it would always be a PS :).

    That said, I think that, like you, I sometimes treat PS as a short sentence and put a full stop after it.

    PS In other words, I'm inconsistent.

    PPS. Very.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The full stops in P.S. and various other locations (for example Mr. N.B. e.g. i.e. etc.) fell out of use as far as I was concerned some time in the latter half of the last century. I couldn't say when, or what provoked the change ... most likely a typist or other person trained in the style of the civil service - as per Loob.
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Of course you don't technically need a PS in email, but we want to be stylish rather than boring, don't we?


    PS. As you can see, I'm a no stops person - except when I think it's a stand-alone phrase (as here, and mentioned by Loob) - a final stop to indicate end of sentence.
  9. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    ... and I had it beaten out of me during my initial training course in the RAF. The reason was simple: there are many abbreviations used in Service Writing and multiple pass typewriter ribbons get holes in them if the typist keeps hitting the full stop key. Since then I have never seen any point in reintroducing them in my writing.

    PS I don't put a stop after PS either.
  10. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I put P.S. in the same category as other Latinate abbreviations, e.g.: e.g., and I always punctuate them, unless I am feeling lax. However, I am a firm non-punctuator of initials, titles and initialisms in general and always use an "open" style in correspondence (only sentences in the body of the message are given stops).
  11. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    If one is going as far as PS, not that it's a great way, can one then take another step and put ps? Or is that a step too far?
  12. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    If Paul McCartney writesit P.S. I Love You, it is good enough for me!
  13. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In the US, we still cling to those full stops (which we call periods): Mr., Ms., Dr., Rev., N.B., e.g., i.e., etc., op. cit. all get their sprinkling of little dots. Their omission would be considered incorrect, certainly in writing for publication. (I know some of these aren't even logical, but . . . )

    That generally goes for P.S., too--although it's used only in communications and not in formal writing, so nobody polices it.
  14. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I'm not a native, but here is my opinion for what it's worth…

    In French, we've always been using the two periods in P.S. because we always include them for abbreviations whenever the last few letters of the original word are left out (whereas we don't use any period when the last letter is still part of the abbreviation). I believe the French usage has rubbed off on the British usage regarding this aspect and this is why I also include the periods when writing P.S. in English.

    That said, omitting the periods altogether doesn't look odd to me since this is getting more and more common. I would however never use a single period (PS.) because PS is not a sentence—there is no verb. On the other hand, PS is not part of the postscript itself and hence it should be separated from the postscript text with some punctuation mark. I would indeed use a colon or em dash, regardless of the way postscript is abbreviated (with or without periods).

    P.S.: Blah blah
    PS: Blah blah
    P.S. — Blah blah
    PS — Blah blah

    PS. Blah blah
    P.S. Blah blah
    PS. Blah blah
    PS Blah blah

    Anyway, the golden rule of typography is consistency. In other words, whatever rule you're using, just stick to it.
  15. caroline0729 Member

    Shanghai, China
    Chinese Mandarin
    I have another problem related to it.
    If we stick to the version P.S., do we need to put another stop behind the P.S. when we say "In a letter, I'd probably put P.S." by putting P.S. at the end of a sentence. Quoted from Thomas Tompion in post #1.
  16. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    No. The stop after S does double service.
  17. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    :thumbsup: I concur. As a matter of fact, in proper typography, you never have two successive periods; it's either one for a full stop and/or an abbreviation mark, or three for an ellipsis (…).
  18. myfoodisnotshared New Member

    English - England
    I find it very interesting what you were all saying about the golden rule being having just one rule and sticking to it.

    I know this thread is 4 years dead and that I have the grammar skills of a sloth, but I just thought I'd add my two cents. I generally go by whatever looks best on the page or screen - for example I read this entire discussion, was intrigued by all sides of the argument, looked back at my email and knew at once that writing P.S. looked perfect there. (I am allowed to use no caps after that full stop, right? Because again, I don't know, it just looks right.)

    But anyway, even though I find the PS quite an unappealing look most of the time, I might write it in some contexts. For example I would prefer to use it when writing a handwritten letter, as the dots never would look quite right - I just tried writing a postscript with them now, and they separate the letters too much. On the other hand, in a note or quick-message I would automatically write ps, even though I'm pretty obsessive most of the time about having caps at the start of sentences.

    The point is, the golden rule of what is right would, for me, disrupt the balance of what feels right in any given situation.

    P.S. - That, or I'm just your typical lazy 16 year old who can't be bothered to stick to the the rules, and who only learnt today that the words at the beginnings of speech marks should always, always have a capital. That's always one option.

    P.P.S. - And I forgot to mention that in some situations I like a dash too. Needless to say, I'm a slow writer.
  19. Damnjoe Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Exactly. I came to this thread because I had never seen P.S. without the periods until I received a letter from Britain. As a general rule, I would say use PS for British English and P.S. for American English. But like Parla said, since P.S. is not used in formal letters, it's not really going to matter much one way or the other.

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