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US vs. U.S.: When To Use Periods And When To Leave Them Out

Do you feel confident when you write US vs. U.S.? Or have you just been winging it? Do you always use one form over the other because you think one is right and one is wrong? Read on for an explanation of when to use periods and when to leave them out. (Hint: Both forms are correct in different circumstances!)

Gregg Reference Manual states: “The name United States is usually abbreviated when it is part of the name of a government agency. When used as an adjective, the name is often abbreviated, though not in formal usage. When used as a noun, the name is spelled out.”

In other words, in general prose, one should use U.S. when abbreviating.
Of all the holidays we celebrate in the U.S., we especially look forward to Independence Day for the fireworks!

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However, there are some exceptions:

U.S. Department of Agriculture or USDA

U.S. Air Force or USAF

NOTE: When a company uses a geographic abbreviation in its corporate name or in the name of a product, respect the company’s style.

U.S.A., but USA Today

U.S., but U S WEST Communications

We hope this helps you feel more confident in the accuracy of your writing, but if you still feel fuzzy about the rules, whether it’s US vs. U.S. or other elements of style, Writer’s Relief can help! Expert proofreading is just one of the many helpful parts of our service!

16 Responses to US vs. U.S.: When To Use Periods And When To Leave Them Out

  1. Hi Bob,

    In that case, you can drop the period before the colon, so it would be U.S:

    Hope this helps!

  2. How about at the end of a subtitle just prior to a colon, for example

    History of Inheritance in the US: blah blah
    or
    History of Inheritance in the U.S.: blah blah

    Without periods looks better. Is it acceptable? (Especially in an article that otherwise uses periods as at americanrtl.org/contstitution.)

  3. We’ve seen it spelled POW, P.O.W., and PoW. It can be spelled any of the three ways.

  4. Hi Michelle,

    Both R.S.V.P. and RSVP are technically correct. However, it has recently become more commonplace to use RSVP without the periods.

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