I'm a computer programmer and have been using ie. and eg. for years in internal reports, emails, comments in the code, etc. Where a spell-checker is hovering in the background I have just ignored its' suggestion for these abbreviations assuming it wasn't important. But I'm busy writing my MSc (in a technical subject, Computer Science, not in English language!) and want this to be correct. Does it make a difference or does it have to be i.e. and e.g.?


The rule is either use the full points or don't - but do it consistently. So either 'e.g.' or 'eg', but not 'eg.'

Most of the (British) English sources that I edit prefer the 'no full points' option for eg and ie, as shown on pg 49 of the Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (4th edn), but different publishing houses have different House Styles. Cambridge University Press seems to prefer them to be with full points (in that its style guide has them set out that way throughout).

So, either use them or don't use them - but don't mix up the two styles. And if you're writing your MSc, find out which style your university prefers, and follow that.

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The most widely accepted forms seem to be "i.e." and "e.g." - however, ultimately it's a question of style. Some people (and some style guides) favour "ie" and "eg", although I am a bit more doubtful about "ie." and "eg.".

The dictionaries (both British and American) that I checked specify "i.e." and "e.g.", and I couldn't see variant forms listed in any of them. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/e.g. ; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/i.e. ; https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/i.e. ; https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/i.e. ; http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ie?q=i.e. ; and so on.

American sources (including the US examples in the dictionaries, or examples in US dictionaries) tend to favour putting a comma after "i.e." and "e.g.", as do many US style guides, while British sources don't tend to include or advocate such commas.

AP style: http://writingexplained.org/ap-style/ie-and-eg

Chicago style: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Abbreviations/faq0047.html

In contrast, a major UK-based newspaper has a style guide that advocates "ie" and "eg": https://www.theguardian.com/guardian-observer-style-guide-i (The Guardian).

The Economist also advocates "ie" and "eg", albeit followed by commas - http://www.economist.com/style-guide/abbreviations

"ie" is also favoured by the BBC ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/news-style-guide/article/art20130702112133573 ).

The UK government recently switched from "ie" and "eg" to "i.e." and "e.g." - https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/07/20/changes-to-the-style-guide-no-more-eg-and-ie-etc/

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The correct usages require two periods (full stops). Further, the abbreviation "e.g." must be surrounded with commas, e.g., like in this sentence ("like" vs. "as" awaits a different flame war ( as does the fact that "like in this sentence" is not a grammatically proper example) ).

Remember that these are abbreviations for two words: "id est," and "exempla gratia."

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  • 2
    References, please? I found English Forums, but I don't know if this would be considered a valid reference - even though my inclination is to agree that the periods (and comma following) are mandatory. – Jeff Zeitlin Aug 24 '17 at 17:34
  • +1 for the latin, but you could translate as "in other words" and "for example/free example" in addition. – docwebhead Aug 24 '17 at 19:03

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