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Style Manual

Latin shortened forms

Use English rather than Latin shortened forms, except in some cases. People will prefer the English equivalent unless the context requires special use.

Avoid using Latin shortened forms in most content

Use Latin forms only in limited situations  for example:

  • where there’s limited space, such as in tables
  • in technical and specialist publications that use them.
Meanings of common Latin shortened forms
Shortened form Complete Latin word Meaning
c. circa about, approximately
cf. conferatur compare
e.g. exempli gratia for example
et al. et alii and others
etc. et cetera and so forth, and so on
i.e. id est that is
MS manuscriptum manuscript
NB nota bene take careful note
PPS post postscriptum second postscript
PS postscriptum postscript
v., vs versus against
viz. videlicet namely

Unlike other shortened forms, some Latin shortened forms have full stops.

The terms ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ need full stops after each letter. This helps screen readers announce them.

Don’t follow ‘e.g.’ or ‘i.e.’ with a comma, regardless of whether you would use a comma in the sentence.

Use the English words where possible

Rather than using ‘e.g.’ or ‘i.e.’ write the English words out in full. Write ‘for example’ and ‘that is’ instead, particularly in more formal publications.

Like this

They found some aspects of grammar confusing for example, the different types of pronouns.

The department has a major problem with its website  that is, users find pages are very slow to load.

Not this

They found some aspects of grammar confusing, e.g. the different types of pronouns.

The department has a major problem with its website, i.e. users find pages very slow to load.

Don’t use the shortened form for et cetera. Use of ‘etc.’ is redundant in a list introduced by ‘for example’, ‘such as’ or ‘including’. These expressions show that the list is incomplete.

If you think you need to include ‘etc.’ because there’s more to say, include these ideas in your sentence instead.

Correct

This funding is intended for upgrading roads in Gold Coast and Hinterland urban centres (for example, Surfers Paradise and Southport).

This funding is for upgrading roads in the Gold Coast and Hinterland urban centres (Surfers Paradise, Southport, Upper Coomera and Robina). [All the places are listed, so ‘for example’ isn’t needed.]

Incorrect

This funding is for upgrading roads in Gold Coast and Hinterland urban centres (for example, Surfers Paradise, Southport etc.).

Release notes

The digital edition follows the Content Guide’s advice to avoid using Latin shortened forms. It lists common shortened forms and provides advice on the limited circumstances where they could be used and how to punctuate them. 

This is a departure from advice in the sixth edition, which listed ‘thoroughly anglicised’ shortened forms used regularly in publications. It did not explicitly warn against their use. The sixth edition recommended against using ‘i.e.’, ‘e.g.’ and ‘etc.’ in paragraph text and in formal content.

The digital edition updates punctuation style for shortened forms. 

The digital edition changes the recommendation to use a full stop with the contraction ‘no’ for the word ‘number’ (from the Latin, numero). This aligns the guidance with the general rule for shortened forms, and with the principle of minimal punctuation. 

About this page

References

American Psychological Association (2020) ‘6.29: Latin abbreviations’, Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edn, American Psychological Association, Washington DC.

Content Design London (2019) ‘Words to avoid’, Content Design London readability guidelines, Content Design London website, accessed 4 May 2020.

GOV.UK (2016) ‘A-to-Z: eg, etc and ie’, Style guide, GOV.UK, accessed 22 February 2020.

Oxford University Press (2016) ‘10.6: e.g., i.e., etc., et al.’, New Oxford style manual, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (2020) ‘2.6: Use simple sentences’, Canada.ca content style guide, Canada.ca, accessed 20 February 2020.

University of Chicago (2017) ‘10.42: scholarly abbreviations’, Chicago manual of style, 17th edn, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

This page was updated Sunday 20 September 2020.

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