How do FamilySearch and Ancestry "handle" periods following an initial in records searches?
Would I be better off not including the period in my search phrase?
Example: John J. Smith (for John Jay Smith or John Jones Smith)
As I wrote back on 28 April 2016, FamilySearch ignores periods you specify. FamilySearch instructs indexers to leave periods out and I am guessing when they buy an index from someone else, they strip out any they find—for consistency.
Back on 23 April 2016 when I wrote this, I searched for “A P Raymond” (set to exact) on Ancestry.com. I received matches for both “A. P. Raymond” and “A P Raymond”. I did the same search with periods and got the same result, so apparently it doesn’t matter.
Short answer: it doesn’t matter.
Incidentally, Ancestry also gave matches for “P A Raymond”, and “L A Lyle P Raymond”. Apparently, they use the same rules for exact searches that FamilySearch used to use. Exact search on Ancestry requires the specified names be present, but additional names may be present and the specified names may be present in any order. You’ll recall FamilySearch changed their exact search recently. They changed their exact to be “exact” (ignoring punctuation, …).
---The Ancestry Insider
Note: This article was corrected on 22 May 2016 as noted in a comment below.