There are 4 types of abbreviations I know for "versus":

  • v
  • v.
  • vs
  • vs.

I generally use the last one in the list, but I want to stick to one and use only that one. Which one is more proper (or more prevalent), and why?

Extra question: Which one should be preferred in scientific papers?

  • 1
    Surely vs doesn't require the full stop? Like Jas or Mrs? But not Capt. – user6668 Mar 29 '11 at 12:12
  • 10
    In British English, vs should not have a full stop because it ends in the final letter of "versus". In American English it should end with a period because it is abbreviated. – Charles Mar 29 '11 at 17:29
  • 1
    I have also seen v/s – user2532 May 6 '11 at 22:20
  • 1
    also possible is -v-, but nearly extinct (only in legal contexts, if then). – TimLymington Jun 30 '11 at 22:02
  • @Charles Your comment is interesting. Could you make an answer from it, so people can vote (even short one would be great)? – kenorb Apr 26 '16 at 21:52
up vote 39 down vote accepted

In legal contexts, the abbreviation "v." is used. Elsewhere, the most common is "vs.". In formal contexts (e.g. scientific papers), it is probably best to have the period at the end of the abbreviation. I assume you would be using this abbreviation in graphs/charts/titles and things like that; the abbreviation would be appropriate in these places, but not within normal prose of the paper.

  • 4
    So should we use v. or vs.? I mean in a scientific article. Cause I am somehow confused by your answers. – lonesome Sep 10 '15 at 14:21

A similar question to this was posted recently, but was ruled off-topic and closed. Someone subsequently commented that it was a duplicate of this question. As I had gone to some effort to obtain relevant data I decided to post it here.


As well as considering the four alternatives lised in the question, I shall also discuss the tendency to italicize it (being of Latin origin), especially when ‘v’ is used. Thus, there are eight alternatives. The choice you make depends to some extent on the context (legal v. sport) and whether you are writing American or British English. This is mentioned in a related question on this list regarding ‘versus’.

vs and vs.

Despite the fact that the Oxford English Dictionary online ignores it, vs. is is not only used, but appears to be more common than vs without the point, as shown by cursory browsing (e.g. example below) and this Google Books ngram:

Google ngram of vs. and vs

However, I must admit I am not sure where this is being used as it is not used in either a legal or sporting context (see below). Someone mentioned a scientific context, but as a professional scientist I can’t ever recall using it

Legal use

Both in the US and Great Britain, the traditional legal abbreviation is ‘v.’. The original tendency to initialize it is illustrated with two facimilies:

Court cases and versus

[(a) Brown v. Board of Education, 1953; (b) Travers v. Wilde and Wilde, 1864 — Because of the use of italics for the title of the court case, the setting of ‘v.’ in Roman indicates its italic original.]

Contemporary usage is unitalicized ‘v.’, although there is a new tendency to use ‘vs.’ in the US press. This is exemplified by an article in the New York Daily News of May 16th, 2015, in which the headline is “Brown vs. Board of Ed. decision…” but the (modern) caption to an original 1954 photo on the same page is “Brown v. Board of Education segregation coverage” (my emboldening).

Sporting Fixtures

As far as I can ascertain the use of ‘v.’ or ‘v’ in sporting fixtures is a British phenomenon, not found in the US. I have used the ‘England versus Australia’ cricket fixture to follow the historical usage. A Google ngram shows that for many years ‘v.’ was almost the sole usage, but from the mid-1970s the use of ‘v’ has grown, so that today it is equally common, and is certainly what will be found on websites (e.g. BBC Sport). There was low usage of ‘vs.’, but ‘vs’ was not found.

Versus abbreviation in cricket fixtures

Whitaker’s Almanack for 1946 shows italicization: ‘v.’, although Hazell’s Annual for 1913 does not:

Cricket in almanacks and italics for v.

I always use "vs." (I don't know if this is very useful jeje) but I quote here an answer from Yahoo Answers that might help.

Spell out the word versus unless you're reporting game scores, when you would use vs.; when you're citing legal documents, use the abbreviation v. (with the period)

  • 12
    "when you're citing legal documents, use the abbreviation". When you're citing anything, put exactly what they have or else clarify that you edited it! – Josh Nov 22 '10 at 22:01
  • 9
    @Josh: think you misunderstand the legal usage. The citation would be something like '"Elephants are not legally treated as house pets" (Smith J, London Zoo v Jones, 1980 Supreme Court 200).' The first eight words must be quoted exactly: the remainder is conventional, showing where to find the quotation from Mr Justice Smith. But the citation is the whole thing. – TimLymington Jun 17 '11 at 15:06

protected by RegDwigнt Oct 23 '13 at 10:01

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