I am reviewing a software manual, and I frequently come across sentences like (made-up example):

The value is 1, but you can set it to e.g. 100

It seems to me that the use of "e.g." is wrong in this case and "for example" should be used instead. I have difficulty expressing why I feel this way, but if you take the meaning of "e.g." to be "for the sake of example" it seems to me that the general case is not explicitly specified (what is 100 an example of?).

I think it should be either

The value is 1, but you can set it to another value, e.g. 100.


The value is 1, but you can set it to for example 100.

Does anyone know if my intuition is right (I'm not a native speaker), or whether or not there are any formal rules to this?

  • In a software manual I don't see how using e.g. like that (or even eg) is unacceptable (though I'd add appropriate commas). If e.g. is taken by the vast majority of people to mean "for example" there's no reason why it cannot be used in that sense even in your sentences. Understand that a slightly telegraphic style is usual in such documents.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 21 '15 at 11:50

Your hunch is right. The given statement is wrong.

The value is 1, but you can set it to another value, e.g. 100.

is correct.

The value is 1, but you can set it, for example, to 100.

The preposition was a bit off, but correct otherwise

It should be noted that e.g. is more commonly used with lists of examples.

As in:

life events (e.g. birth, death and marriage)

Sources - Wiktionary, Oxford, M-W

  • 1
    I'd like to point out that most established style guides (including the Chicago Manual of Style, Columbia Guide to Standard American English, The Guide to Grammar and Writing, et al.) prefer or require the use of a comma after e.g., regardless of whether parentheses or commas are used. See this link for a few more guides and a potential caveats.
    – AWMoore
    Apr 21 '15 at 21:04
  • While I agree with the style or response, I do not believe those sources correctly justify it. Can you name a reputable style guide or dictionary that backs it up, or elaborates on why the use of '.e.g' in this case is wrong?
    – Ivan Perez
    May 24 '18 at 21:37
  • 1
    I am not sure why editing someone answer to materially change it should ever be approved. May 25 '18 at 17:04

I see nothing wrong with that usage. However, most style guides for technical documentation (e.g. Microsoft: "Don't use. Use for example instead.") say that abbreviations like this shouldn't be use. The reason being that many people do not understand these abbreviations, (I have seen i.e. used instead of e.g. and vice-versa many times.)


Formal writing

You should at least follow the structure:

…you can set it to another value, e.g., 100.

Note the placement of the commas above, which would be the same if you wrote "for example" instead.

However, style guides such as APA only permit the use of abbreviations like this ("i.e.", "cf." and so on) inside parentheses:

...you can set it to another value (e.g., 100).

Informal writing

There is little wrong with

...you can set it to e.g. 100

and this usage may be preferred for the sake of brevity. I would still put a comma before "e.g." though.

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