Posted by: episystechpubs | November 2, 2015

Editor’s Corner: I.e. vs. e.g.

Good morning, and feliz día de los muertos!

Today, I’m talking about i.e. and e.g. Kara discussed these abbreviations recently. But they were part of a larger discussion about Latin expressions, and since many people misuse these abbreviations, we should look at them more closely.

I imagine that people misuse these abbreviations because people don’t really know what they mean. That’s one reason the editors try to get you to avoid them altogether. But before we ban them outright, let’s make sure we all understand what they stand for.

· I.e. stands for the Latin term id est, which roughly means that is or in other words.

· E.g. stands for the Latin term exempli gratia, which means for example.

Grammar Girl has a few tips to help you remember which is which:

· I.e. starts with the letter i, and so does the term in other words.
E.g. begins with the letter e and so does example.

· E.g. sounds like egg as in “egg sample.”

Now, let’s go back to my comment explaining that the editors prefer that you avoid these terms, because I know some of you are itching to debate that suggestion. There is a method to our madness. You see, these terms don’t only confuse writers, they also confuse readers. It is usually a lot easier for everyone involved to use the phrase “for example” or the phrase “that is.” So, unless you are really short on space and you only have room for the abbreviations, it’s best to spell it out. If you do insist on using them, be sure that you get them right!

If you want to watch a short video from Merriam-Webster explaining i.e. and e.g., click here.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432


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