Eg or e.g.?

Posted on May 17, 2012

When you write an English document, you may want to give a number of short examples. Instead of writing “for example” again and again, or using a number of sentences to make your point, you can use e.g.

E.g. can be used whenever you want to give examples, and is usually done in parentheses.

An example of how to use e.g. would be in a sentence where you are talking about phone companies and want to mention popular manufacturers. You could write “Popular phone companies (e.g. Samsung, Sony, Apple, HTC) have become household names in recent years.”

One common mistake that inexperienced writers also make is using etc. with e.g. This is not necessary. Using e.g. already means that you are giving some examples and that there are other cases that you have not mentioned. Etc. is used for the same function, so adding it after e.g. is unnecessary, redundant, and just plain wrong.

A big question that comes up again and again is whether to us eg or e.g. Some writers these days even use e.g or eg.

To be sure, in the Internet age, standards for language are changing fast. In some cases, (e.g. Facebook status updates, some blogs, forum posts), you can write whatever you want.

In a formal paper or a text that you want to be taken seriously, there is only one correct answer, however, and that is…

e.g.

With two full stops.

Why?

One very good reason is logic. While some creative minds may think that eg if short for “egsample,” that is far from the case.

E.g. is actually an abbreviation of the Latin words exempli gratia, which means, simply, for example. Because we still use the Latin form, we shorten it to e.g. If we used the English form, it would be f.r. and not fr. Many abbreviations use no full stops, but they use capital letters. A common example is USA. So for logical reasons, it’s e.g. and not eg, or any other variation.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about the fact that the Chicago Manual of Style, the Modern Languages Association handbook, the American Psychologists Association handbook, the Associated Press style guide, and almost every existing university and business style guide uses e.g.

Basically, if you want to be taken seriously in formal writing, use e.g.

Feel free to disagree, however. Eg or e.g.? Tell us what you think.

Let’s leave i.e. and e.g. for another time, shall we?

 

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