Example: "...folders you want to export e.g., Inbox, Sent, etc. and choose..."

I'm wondering if the above sentence fragment is appropriately punctuated. I've recently started using e.g. and am myself a tiny bit of a language snob but haven't seen this used frequently enough to have come across the "correct" way to punctuate.

The second half of my question would be if this is even the best use of e.g. or should only one example follow. I want to clarify but not run on and on.

  • Whether or not you use the periods after such abbreviations depends on how snobbish you and your employer/publisher are. If you work for the New Yorker, use the periods. Writing a post on Stack Exchange, no biggie either way.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 30, 2014 at 19:20
  • I use the abbreviations eg, ie etc to forestall the problem. I've got an 'authority' 'allowing' it somewhere. (I've also got one saying one should never use these abbreviations anyway.) But I would use brackets, as Brian suggests: " . . . folders you wish to export (eg Inbox, Sent)" . Dec 30, 2014 at 20:46
  • The comma after 'e.g.' is treating it as though it's one of the list items, so remove it. In more formal writing you should include the full stops in the abbreviation thus 'e.g.' but otherwise they can be left out. Dec 30, 2014 at 21:58

3 Answers 3


In my reading of the Chicago Manual of Style (but I do not have a copy with me) and from my legal writing experience, the best answer to your question may be to almost entirely avoid answering your question.

First, my training says to only use e.g. when you need to save space, which is almost exclusively in footnotes and endnotes. In the body of the text, "for example" has the same meaning and is perfectly clear to all readers of English.

Second, because e.g. is a foreign phrase, convention dictates italicizing it. The italics draw unnecessary attention to the phrase, so that also counsels against using it.

E.g. means "for example", so punctuate it just as you would the English phrase. In your above example, I would add a comma after "export" because the phrase beginning with e.g. is a dependent clause and a break in the meter of the sentence.

How many examples should you provide? My legal drafting and interpretation experience is extremely useful here: provide enough examples and the proper examples. Of course, that answer gives you almost no guidance: the issue of examples has been litigated in thousands of cases for hundreds of years on six continents. Nevertheless, a few pointers: the more similar your examples are to each other, the more likely people will interpret your examples to represent a narrow list. If all of your examples have a common element, the more likely people will interpret your examples to require that non-listed examples must have the common element.

All told, I think Mark Twain and William Strunk can help us the most here. Twain would likely say something like, "If you are writing in English, then use English not Latin." Strunk would chide us to "make every word tell."


Simply put, i.e. should be used when you want to say 'in other words.' E.g. is used when you want to say 'for example.'

I love casino gambling (i.e., poker, slots and roulette.)

In this case, the distinction is being made between specific gambling activities as found in casinos to gambling of other sorts, such as horse- and dog-racing, betting on sporting contests & the like.

I like playing board games (e.g., Monopoly and Risk.)

In this case, one is merely giving examples of board games one likes to play.

As for punctuation, there should always be a comma after each abbreviation, as you can see in my examples.

  • This was also helpful in clarifying the difference. Thanks (can't upvote with my current rep) Jan 2, 2015 at 17:56

It's almost correctly puctuated. One could add a comma after "etc." but that looks like a lot of commas. I suggest using parentheses thus: " . . . folders you wish to export (e.g., Inbox, Sent, etc.) and. . ." Then take out the "e.g."—it is superfluous. The use of two examples is fine; you did use the plural "folders", and it is uncommon to follow a single-member list with "etc".

  • 1
    In a previous thread, using 'eg a, b, c etc' has been considered a wrong coupling of eg and etc. Dec 30, 2014 at 20:48
  • I was going to suggest to the OP that the e.g. was superfluous, but wasn't sure. Thanks. Dec 30, 2014 at 21:02

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