Proper Names

Q. Hi, when a person has a hyphenated first name, such as Zheng-Jun Gao, how would you style their first initials? Would it be “Z.-J. Gao” or “Z. J. Gao”? Thank you.

A. If you’re following Chicago style, keep the hyphen: “Z.-J. Gao” or, inverted (as in a reference list or index), “Gao, Z.-J.” If you’re writing for the sciences, where initials for given names are more common, and where periods and spaces are often omitted from initials, you could follow the lead of the National Library of Medicine, as detailed in Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd ed. According to that guide, hyphens in given names are disregarded when forming initials: “ZJ Gao” or, inverted, “Gao ZJ” (without a comma).