17.02 French Typographical Rules—Acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations

(a) Use upper-case letters; do not use periods:

  • OTAN
    • Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord (NATO)
  • SEE
    • Société pour l’expansion des exportations (Export Development Corporation)

(b) Do not retain the accent on initial letters:

  • CEE
    • Communauté économique européenne

(c) The gender of an acronym is normally that of the initial noun:

  • le BIT
    • Bureau international du travail

But acronyms from another language take the gender of the French equivalent of the generic noun:

  • le GATT
    • General Agreement (accord) on Tariffs and Trade
  • la BBC
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (société)

(d) Use a period with the abbreviations for Monsieur and Messieurs, but not with those for Madame and Mesdames:

  • M. Ladouceur
  • MM. Jalbert et Roussel


  • Mme Fortier
  • Mmes Joanisse et René

Note 1

When inserting any of these abbreviations into English text, add a period:

  • Mmes. Sauvé and Legros have yet to express their opinion.

Note 2

  • Messrs. is the English equivalent of MM.

Note 3

  • The French title Madame may refer to unmarried as well as married women.