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, 2011 at 12:12
  • 21
    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, 2011 at 17:29
  • 1
    I have also seen v/s
    – user2532
    May 6, 2011 at 22:20
  • 1
    also possible is -v-, but nearly extinct (only in legal contexts, if then). Jun 30, 2011 at 22:02
  • 1
    The rule I have always used is to add a dot when the letter is not the last letter of the word, to omit the dot otherwise. Thus, we have v. (with a dot) but vs (no dot). Likewise, Mr without a dot. I always thought this was a well established rule and am surprised no-one mentioned it.
    – PatrickT
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:38

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 5
    So should we use v. or vs.? I mean in a scientific article. Cause I am somehow confused by your answers.
    – lonesome
    Sep 10, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    v. is primarily used in legal contexts. In a scientific article, you would generally use vs..
    – inavda
    Apr 11, 2022 at 4:45
  • @inavda — Assertions are of little value on this list without evidence (or sometimes argument) to support them. This goes for the answerer too. What sort of scientific articles use versus? None I can recall in my field of biochemistry and molecular biology. And if you know of such a field, please provide an answer with examples from publications and some sort of analysis.
    – David
    Apr 11, 2022 at 7:46
  • My bad. I simply meant that vs. is preferred over v. in most common contexts - not that it is necessarily used frequently itself. Here are some examples of vs. being used in scholarly articles: scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22vs%22. There are some false matches, but I am having trouble finding a more accurate set of articles.
    – inavda
    Apr 11, 2022 at 19:06


As well as considering the four alternatives listed in the question, I shall also discuss the tendency to italicize them (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, 2010 at 22:01
  • 10
    @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. Jun 17, 2011 at 15:06

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