What Are Initials? 12 Examples Of Name Initials (Complete Guide) (2023)

Initials are very important to understand as they’re used in a variety of important documents throughout one’s life. If you don’t know what initials are or how they work, you’ve come to the right place.

What Are Initials?

Initials are simply the first letter of a word. They are most commonly used with people’s names and should represent the first letter of the first name and the first letter of the second name. For example, John Smith would have JS initials.

What Are Initials? 12 Examples Of Name Initials (Complete Guide) (1)

You’ll come across initials plenty of times in English, especially anyone who has to fill in important documents. Documents often ask you to sign your initials directly after the place where you’ve signed your name and dated it.

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Examples Of What Initials Are

We could teach you everything we know about initials, but it wouldn’t be much help if you don’t see them in action. We thought we’d show you some examples of how initials are used, as well as the names that those initials come from.

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Remember, we must initial a name in its entirety. It’s no good only initially a first name or a last name. Both names must be included together. A typical initial is two letters long, though sometimes you can have more than that depending on the name.

  1. My name is Jack Preacher, and my initials are JP.
  2. If your name is John O’Sullivan, your initials can be JOS or JO, depending on your preference.
  3. I am called Steve Arnott, and my initials are SA.
  4. My initials are MO. My name is Matthew Oscar.
  5. Where do I find my initials if my name is Dean West? Is DW correct?
  6. You should initial all parts of your name. Patrick Stewart becomes PS.
  7. Matthew Bolton is initialed as MB.
  8. Make sure to initial your first name and last name, Roger Fox. That would make it RF.
  9. Mrs. Tonks’ initials are ST; I wonder what her first name could be. Sarah? Sam?
  10. My initials are AJ, and my first name is Alex. Can you guess my surname?
  11. The name is James Blond, though you can refer to me as JB.
  12. My initials are MS, and my name is Mary Sue.

We included as many names and examples as we could to show you when initials are used. Typically, we would know both the first name and the surname (second name) of the person if we’re initialing them, though we also only tend to give ourselves initials.

However, in the case of the teacher example (example 9), sometimes you will see an initial without knowing a full name. This leaves the name guessing to speculation, as an initial only gives away the first letter of a name and not the full name.

Are Initials Always First And Last Name?

Whenever you want to write initials, it always includes your first and last name. There are no other names that must be included for an initial to be authentic.

Most initials are two letters long because they are only a first and last name (AJ or BT). However, if the name has more than one word in it (usually indicated by a second capital letter), it’s possible to have three or more letters in the initial.

Let’s look at a few examples of what we mean:

  • My name is AJ Prince. My initials are AJP.

Here, AJ already has an initial in his first name. Usually, the J in an initial like this means “Junior,” as their mother or father share the same name as them. However, AJ also has to include his last name initial to be correct, so he has three initials in his name.

  • My name is John O’Peters. My initials are JOP.

Because the surname O’Peters uses two capital letters, it’s possible to see the initials of the full name be three letters in length. However, this is usually down to personal preference. Some people with “O’Peters” as a surname might only want to keep the O as the initial, while others want to keep the OP.

Is Initial Middle Name?

Whenever we’re using initials, we don’t typically include a middle name. There are a few exceptions, but most formal documents don’t require a middle name to be stated.

For example, if your name is “John Paul Goldberg,” your initials would be JG. You won’t need to include the P from Paul in your middle name. There is one exception to this rule, and that all comes down to personal preference again.

If you already initial your middle name when you introduce yourself (i.e., John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson), then you can put those initials in your name. JFK and LBJ were both US Presidents who used their middle initial.


The tradition to use a middle initial when writing your initials is an American tradition, and it doesn’t typically happen anywhere else in the world. However, if you want to use your middle initial, there is nothing wrong with doing so – it’s just not common.

How Do I Write My Initials?

Let’s go over a quick guide to writing your initials. If you’ve been asked to do so, it can’t be much simpler than this!

  1. Write your full name.
  2. George Patrick Johnson.
  3. Remove your middle name if you don’t use the initial.
  4. George Johnson.
  5. Find the first letter of your first name and remove the rest.
  6. G Johnson
  7. Now find the first letter of your second name and remove the rest.
  8. G J
  9. Now put the two initials together. There doesn’t need to be a space between them.
  10. GJ

How Do I Write My Initials And Surname?

Sometimes, you might see initials used for only one name. If this is the case, you’ll always see the first name initialed, but the last name will be written out in full.

For example, a writer might sign their work “L. Bury.” If the writer’s first name is Lucian, then we can see how they’ve initialed it to show only “L.”

But why do writers do this?

Well, it’s not just writers that address themselves in this way. It’s actually common practice for a lot of people in the arts industry. For example, an artist might sign their work to say P. Picasso, or a playwright might write W. Shakespeare.

The reason this is done is as a sign of recognition. Most people will be familiar with the writer that they’re reading from or the artist they’re looking at the art of. If you’re famous enough in your own circle of art, then people won’t need to know your full name.

For that reason, it’s common to see the first name initialized when written. Your last name is more than enough to recognize you with when you’re well-established in your respected field. For newer writers and artists, it’s best to write your full name, so people know who you are before trying to remove some of your initials.

What To Write If A Form Asks For Your Initials

The most common place you might find something asking for your initials is on a form or a contract of some kind. You’ll typically see it look as follows:

Signature:Put signature here


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You’ll almost always write your full name out and then include the initials afterward. It just helps to streamline the form-filling process and helps with the analysis of the form on the back-end.

How Do You Punctuate Initials?

You don’t always need to punctuate initials. It’s actually more common to leave your initials without any punctuation. However, some people like to show a difference between the two letters that separate their names with periods.

  • DE
  • D.E.

Both of these forms of initials are correctly punctuated. It’s up to you which form works best for you, but most people like to use it without periods because it saves time.

It’s worth quickly mentioning that if you follow the writer’s method above where the first name is initialed, but the last name is spelled out, you always want a period at the end of that.

  • D. Edwards

This is because your spelling out the last name after the initial, so it’s good to separate the two with a period and a space.

Do You Put Periods Between Initials?

As we’ve already said, it’s up to you how you want to punctuate your initials. The most common form of punctuation uses periods between initials. If that looks good to you, then we recommend you use it!

Most people leave the periods out and only write the two letters when they initial their name.

Why Do Writers Use Initials?

Writers use initials when for two reasons.

They are either already well-established writers whose initials are recognizable to the people familiar with their work. They might also use them because they want to save time, and it’s quicker to write two letters than it is to write a full name.

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How Do You Write Juniors Initials?

We briefly touched on this earlier, but if you share the same name with your child (or vise versa), you may want to know what their junior initials are.

  • If you’re called Andy, and your son is called Andy, his name will be Andy Junior.
  • Andy Junior is initialed to be AJ.
  • If you include the surname after this, you simply add the next initial onto AJ.
  • AJT works as a good initial. (If your last name begins with T).

What Are Initials? 12 Examples Of Name Initials (Complete Guide) (2)

Martin Lassen

Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.

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What are initials examples? ›

Initials are the capital letters which begin each word of a name. For example, if your full name is Michael Dennis Stocks, your initials will be M. D. S.

How do I write my initials? ›

Generally, you use the first letter of your first and the first letter of your last name as your initials, but you can also include the first letter of your middle name or maiden name, or more than one letter from one of the names (e.g. someone with the last name DiAmico using both D and A).

What does full initials mean? ›

noun. 1. : the first letter of a name. initials plural : the first letter of each word in a full name.

How do you write full names with initials? ›

How do you write your name with initials? You simply replace the name with the first letter of the name, capitalized and followed by a period.

How many types of initials are there? ›

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. So there are 26 different possibilities for the first initial.

What are common initials? ›

The bar charts show that J, M, S, D, and C are the most common initials for first names, whereas S, B, H, M, and C are the most common initials for last names. In contrast, U, Q, and X are initials that do not appear often for either first or last names.

What should initials look like? ›

Traditionally, a monogram reads First Name Initial, Last Name Initial, Middle Name or Maiden Name Initial. With the Last Name Initial being the larger Middle Initial. For example, if you had the name Kelsie Elizabeth Vogds, her monogram would read KVE.

How do you write first and last initials? ›

If you are following the traditional initial order, the last name initial will be the largest and in the center, with the first and middle name on the left and right. If you keep both your maiden name and your last name, then your middle name can be substituted with your maiden name in the initials.

Should name initials have full stops? ›

British usage favours omitting the full stop in abbreviations which include the first and last letters of a single word, such as Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr and St; American usage prefers (A) Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. and St., with full stops. Most other abbreviated titles, however, require a full stop, as shown above.

What are initials words? ›

Abbreviations that use the first letter of each word in a phrase are sometimes referred to as initialisms. Initialisms can be but are not always acronyms. AT&T, BT, CBS, CNN, IBM, and NBC are initialisms that are not acronyms.

What is my complete name? ›

The first name, any middle names, and surname of a person.

Can my signature be my initials? ›

Because your signature identifies you, it should be consistent. It doesn't have to be your full name — unless you're specifically trying to match a previous authorized signature. You can choose to use just your initials instead, as one example.

What is initials in filling form? ›

If someone asks you to initial a form, they're asking you to sign by writing your initials on it. If your name is Inna Instant, you would write I.I., and you'd probably write it really quick! The first draft of a paper might be called your initial pass at getting your ideas down.

Do you put dots between initials? ›

Initials require no periods when someone has come to be known by initials alone (JFK, LBJ, etc.). Mary Jane is MJ. However, formal manuscripts probably need the periods.

How many dots do you write when writing initials? ›

Punctuation for Abbreviations: Names and Titles

Abbreviate names with a single letter followed by a period. If two successive letters are abbreviated, do not include spaces between the periods. If a person's full name is abbreviated, use only first letters without periods: JFK (John F. Kennedy), LBJ (Lyndon B.

What are the 5 types of abbreviation? ›

Types of English abbreviations
  • Initialism.
  • Acronym.
  • Shortening.
  • Contraction.
May 14, 2017

How many ways can you have 3 initials? ›

How many different three-letter initials can people have? One has 26 choices for the first initial, 26 for the second, and 26 for the third. Therefore, there are 263 possible three-letter initials.

How many different 2 letter initials are there? ›

There are 325 possible combinations with two letters. To determine this number of combinations, we use the fact that the alphabet has 26 letters.

What are the top 10 abbreviations? ›

Here is a selection of the most popular and widely used internet abbreviations in 2022:
  • LOL: Laughing out loud.
  • ASAP: As soon as possible.
  • FYI: For your information.
  • G2G: Got to go.
  • FB: Facebook.
  • MSG: Message.
  • TTYL: Talk to you later.
  • IMO: In my opinion.
Jan 9, 2023

What are the least common initials? ›

The rarest letters in English are j, q, x, and z.

How many initials are there in English? ›

26 letters

How do you do 3 initials? ›

Three Initials. If using three initials, the monogram traditionally uses all three names (i.e., first, middle and last names). If all the letters in the monogram are the same height, then the ordering is first name initial, middle name initial, last name initial.

What are the most popular first initials? ›

US Popularity by Initial Letter
  • j. 10.902% -3.059%
  • a. 9.599% -0.343%
  • l. 7.175% +3.341%
  • m. 6.814% -1.318%
  • c. 6.614% -1.225%
  • e. 5.845% +0.120%
  • k. 5.024% -1.913%
  • b. 4.655% +1. -0.129%

How do you write initials with two first names? ›

For Double Names with No Spacing

For names like "AnnaLee," the consensus is to use the first letter of the name as the first letter in the monogram. If AnnaLee's full name were "AnnaLee Caroline Smith," her monogram would be "ACS" in block style or "ASC" with the "S" in a larger font.

How are initials used? ›

Acronyms and initials describe when the first letter, or letters, of words in a phrase or title make a shorter series of letters to stand for the item. If a short form can be read as a word, it is an acronym. If the short form doesn't make a word, the letters are initials.

How do monogram initials go in order? ›

Traditionally, a monogram reads First Name Initial, Last Name Initial, Middle Name or Maiden Name Initial. With the Last Name Initial being the larger Middle Initial. For example, if you had the name Kelsie Elizabeth Vogds, her monogram would read KVE.

Where do you put initials? ›

You write your initials(the first letter of your first, middle and last name) on the bottom of each page. Sign the last page of the document with your first and last name.

What is it called when you just use initials? ›

Initialism is a type of abbreviation that uses the first letters of words in a phrase to make a term, which may or may not be pronounced as a new word. As such, acronyms are initialisms.

When should you include your initials at the bottom? ›

Initials included at the bottom of a business letter are called typist's initials. Some companies require them so that they know who actually typed the letter versus who composed it, in order to determine who is responsible for typos, misspellings and other mistakes that took place when the letter was produced.

What is it called when you use initials for names? ›

An initialism is an abbreviation formed from initial letters.

What is your middle initials? ›

In various cultures, a middle name is a portion of a personal name that is written between the person's first given name and their surname. A middle name is often abbreviated and is then called middle initial or just initial.

How do you write a complete name? ›

The name "First Name Middle Initial Last Name" is an example of a full name.

What is complete given name? ›

given name, also called first name, part of a personal name that distinguishes an individual from other members of a group, clan, or family. It is typically used in conjunction with a surname, or “family name,” which in many cases is inherited and held in common by members of a family. baptismal certificate.

What is complete legal name? ›

Full legal name means an individual's first name(s), middle name(s), and last name(s) or surname without the use of initials or nicknames unless otherwise acceptable in Section 75.0 of this document regulation. "Identification Documents" includes both state-issued driver licenses and identification cards.

Do initials have to be in cursive? ›

English says there is no legal requirement that a signature needs to be written in cursive. You can print your name. So, what about the separate signature and print lines on forms? English says that's a practical business requirement - so someone can correctly read what you wrote.

What does signing with initials mean? ›

Initialing serves as a precautionary measure meant to protect the integrity of the signed document. Interestingly, adding initials on every page of a contract is not a legal requirement for a party to express consent; a signature is sufficient to create a valid contract (under Luxembourgish law, at least).

Can you have initials as a middle name? ›

A middle initial isn't always a stand-in for a name, however—some parents choose them because they just go nicely with the given name they've selected. In this case, the initial used as a middle name is actually a letter name, and the letter isn't followed by a period because it's not an abbreviated form of anything.

How do you write initials in a document? ›

Click the “Insert” tab if it is not already showing. Click the “Text Box” button and choose “Simple Text Box” from the fly-down menu. Word inserts a text box onto the page. Click inside the placeholder text and type your initials.

Do you put a comma after initials? ›

"Bob, C.J, Greg and Charles all went to the store." So your way of punctuating was in the end, correct. Bob, C.J., Greg and Charles all went to the store. The rule is that a comma mustn't go after an initial, ever.

How do you write middle initials? ›

How do you write an initial with two middle names? You write your first name followed by the first letter of your first middle name, then the first letter of your second middle name then your full last name.

Can initials be 3 letters? ›

Personal Monograms

A personal monogram consists of three initials (first, middle and last names).

What is considered your initials? ›

The first letter of your name is your initial. The first thing you say to someone is your initial greeting. Initial is something that occurs first or at the beginning. If someone asks you to initial a form, they're asking you to sign by writing your initials on it.

What do I mention in initials? ›

As indicated earlier, monograms for one person, whether they're married or not, use the first letters of their first, middle and last name. If you are following the traditional initial order, the last name initial will be the largest and in the center, with the first and middle name on the left and right.


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