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Please see this image:

enter image description here

I would like to change the "Middle Name/Initials" text to just "M.I." because it currently ruins the formatting. Where is the file located in order to change this?

Also, if it's a core file, will I need to edit it with each update of Magento?

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Never edit core files in Magento!

Solution without changing core files

You can define custom translations in your theme, create the following file if it does not exist yet:

app/design/frontend/[package]/[theme]/locale/en_US/translate.csv

(replace en_US if you use a different language)

Note that this should be a project specific theme, not rwd/default or some_bought_theme/default. If you did not already, you can add a child theme next to default and specify this one as theme in the system configuration. You don't need to copy anything from the default directory since Magento falls back automatically, so you only need to add the files that are customized.

In the translate.csv you can add your custom translations. Since the translated string is "Middle Name/Initial" and it's coming from the Mage_Customer module, you need to add this line:

"Mage_Customer::Middle Name/Initial","M.I."

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