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On the usage of “etcetera”

Is the abbreviation etc. or "and so on" acceptable in scientific writing papers?

  • 1
    On the usage of "etcetera" addresses the first part of your question explicitly and the second part implicitly.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 21, 2012 at 10:10
  • Scientific/technical: entirely acceptable. Courteous Formal, as in political, invitations, official speeches - not really.
    – SF.
    Nov 21, 2012 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


This is strictly a style manual question. Some (very few) journals refuse to allow any abbreviations except for units of measure, e.g., "50 ml/kg"; others refuse to allow nonstandard abbreviations; still others have nothing to say about abbreviations except "spell them out the first time you use them and then consistently use them throughout the paper". Some journals allow "e.g.", others require "eg", and some specifically prohibit "e.g." (i.e., they say "Don't put these Latinate abbreviations in Italics". You have to look at the house style of the scientific journal you're asking to publish your paper, or else look at the style manual they require you to follow.

"And so on" isn't an abbreviation but a shorthand way of saying "and other items just like the few that preceded these words". Most scientific publishers will allow etc., e.g., i.e., viz., cf., ca., and so on, when they are appropriate. Don't overuse them, especially i.e.


If you look at the documents, etc. is used, but so on looks somewhat clumsy. It is a general term which shouldn't be used in scientific writing papers, I don't think.

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