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In technical writing, I often find there's a choice between using "e.g." and "etc.". Lets look at an example:

  • You could use an ORM, e.g. SQLAlchemy, Storm.
  • You could use an ORM: SQLAlchemy, Storm, etc.

I'm coming to the conclusion that it almost always makes for punchier writing to use the second style. Is this a widely recognised style?


Thanks for the answers so far. I am fully aware of the meaning of "e.g." and "etc." which I thought would be obvious from my question. In this example, both could be used, and it is a matter of style which one.

The suggestions to avoid abbreviations make a lot of sense. I've realise I prefer "such as" to "for example" and I prefer "and others" to "and so on". This makes the choice:

  • You could use an ORM, such as SQLAlchemy, Storm.
  • You could use an ORM: SQLAlchemy, Storm, and others.

Interestingly, I prefer the first of these.

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    I understand either equally well. – mplungjan Dec 2 '14 at 14:41
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    They mean totally different things – 1252748 Dec 2 '14 at 15:50
  • @thomas is correct. you should use the one that fits best, or dispense with latin abbreviations altogether. – ell Dec 2 '14 at 23:57
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To answer the question—which none of the other answers here has actually done so far:

No, there is no “widely recognised style” (by which I presume you mean any kind of stylistic consensus or convention) that deals with whether a non-exhaustive list of options should be preceded by e.g./for example/such as or other words to that effect, or whether they should be finished off with etc./and so on/and others or words to that effect.

If you find the latter makes for ‘punchier’ writing when writing when using abbreviations, but the former when writing out the English words, then by all means make it a style (or habit—whatever you want to call it) of your own to consistently do so; but it’s not very likely that anyone else will realise that you’re doing it, or would notice if you didn’t.

Personally, I perceive no difference whatsoever in ‘punchiness’ between the two options: they end up meaning the exact same thing (in this context), and neither is more emphatic, mellifluous, euphonic, or ‘punchy’ than the other to my ear.

  • They do not mean the same thing, though the difference may be unimportant in this context. – TimLymington Dec 2 '14 at 23:37
  • @TimLymington That’s why I said “in this context”. They mean different things, of course; but in the context given in the question, the end result is exactly the same for all intensive porpoises: SQLAlchemy and Storm are two examples of ORMs, but there are more than just those two. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 2 '14 at 23:38
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The Microsoft Manual of Style (page 289 of the 4th edition) recommends not using either abbreviation. I always write out the English equivalent ('for example' or 'and others') depending on which is more appropriate within the context because I do not know the reader's fluency in English and English abbreviations.

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The best approach depends on your audience. Abbreviations and foreign phrases, such as e.g. and etc., are often confusing for readers who are not fluent in English. When in doubt, avoid abbreviations. Write out what you need to say.

In a sentence, you can include the examples set off by a comma:

You could use an ORM, such as SQLAlchemy or Storm.

In bulleted text, you can use sub-bullets:

  • You could use an ORM
    • For example: SQLAlchemy or Storm
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Use e.g. with a comma when you are introducing a short list of examples

There are many good dictionaries on sale nowadays e.g., Chambers, Longman, and Collins.

Use etc. when it is obvious that you are referring to a long list

There are many types of dictionaries: monolingual, bilingual, slang, etc.

These are very common abbreviations derived from Latin and shouldn't create any difficulty of comprehension with the vast majority of English speakers. But if you are writing a formal report, paper, proposal, etc. or your audience might be unfamiliar with their meanings e.g., non-native speakers, then by all means use their English equivalents: 1. “such as” 2. “for instance” 3. “for example” can all substitute “e.g.” whereas 1. “and so forth” or 2. “and so on” can replace “etc.”.

It is considered poor style to use different abbreviations, such as: “ex”, “EX”, and to use more than one period after “etc.” So, avoid writing: “Blah, blah EX: blah, blah, blah, etc ....”. (NO)

It is also advisable not to use both abbreviations within the same sentence and to omit the comma after e.g. and the last comma in the list preceding etc. For example,

There are many types of dictionaries e.g. monolingual, bilingual, slang etc.

The example above is the thing best avoided.

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e.g. means "for example."

etc. (et cetera) means "and so on" -- that is, other things like the ones named.

The two abbreviations are not the same.

Techical writing does not have to be "punchy"; it should be correct.

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Two words, two different meanings.

Etc. means "and so on", e.g. means "for example".

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