When to Use i.e. or e.g.

By eContent Pro on Jan 19, 2017

Two of the most commonly misused abbreviations in the English language are i.e. and e.g. If you would like to use these abbreviations in your writing, but aren’t sure which one is correct, don’t fear! We have put together a guide to using these abbreviations correctly.

When to Use i.e. or e.g.

Background of i.e. and e.g.

First, let’s take a look at the use of each of these abbreviations. Both of these abbreviations come from Latin phrases: i.e. stands for id est, which translates roughly to “that is”; while e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” An easy way to remember which phrase means what is to match the letters. I.e. starts with an “i,” which is the first letter of is, so i.e. means “that is.” You can test the use of this abbreviation by substituting “in other words” into your sentence. Alternatively, e.g. starts with an “e,” which is the first letter of example, so e.g. means “for example.” You can test this abbreviation by substituting “for example” into your sentence.

How to Know When to Use i.e. and e.g. in a Sentence

When you are including i.e. and e.g. in your sentences, you will want to be sure that you are using them correctly. We have included an example of the correct way to use each abbreviation below.

Example of the use of i.e.

  • We will continue to offer our standard discount, i.e., 10% off.

Example of the use of e.g.

  • We will also offer additional, special discount, e.g., 20% off for new customers and 15% off for referring a friend.

You can also include parentheses around the abbreviation and list. We have included examples of this below.

Example of the use of i.e. with parentheses

  • We will continue to offer our standard discount (i.e., 10% off).

Example of the use of e.g. with parentheses

  • We will also offer an additional, special discount (e.g., 20% off for new customers and 15% off for referring a friend).

Tips for Using i.e. and e.g.

As with anything in the English language, there are tips that you must keep in mind when using these abbreviations. We have made a list of these tips and rules below.

Do not italicize abbreviations.

You do not want to italicize these abbreviations, as they are considered standard English words even though they are Latin in origin.

Use a period after each letter of the abbreviation

You will want to acknowledge the fact that these words are abbreviations and be sure to include a period after each letter of the abbreviation.

Use a comma after the abbreviation

This rule is tricky. Most American style guides either recommend or require the use of a comma after the abbreviations, while many British style guides do not include the use of the comma. Be sure to keep in mind which country is the target for your writing when evaluating this rule.

Use a comma or parenthesis before the abbreviation unless it begins a sentence

You will want to use either a comma or parenthesis as a way of introducing the phrase that begins with i.e. or e.g. If you choose parentheses, be sure to include a comma after the abbreviation.

If a sentence begins with one of the abbreviations, use a comma after the abbreviations

If a sentence begins with one of these abbreviations, it will be considered an introductory phrase. As such, you will want to be sure to include a comma after it.

If these abbreviations are used within a sentence without parentheses, use a comma before and after the abbreviation

If you are using i.e. or e.g. in a sentence and not including a set of parentheses, you will need to separate that clause from the rest of the sentence. To do this, you would include a comma before the clause, and possibly after, depending on the style guide that you are following.

If you must start a sentence with i.e. or e.g., capitalize the first letter of the abbreviation

Since this abbreviation will be the first letter in your sentence, you will want to be sure that you are capitalizing the first letter. When possible, we recommend avoiding these abbreviations to start a sentence, as they will sound grammatically awkward.

Do not use etc. at the end of a list following e.g.

You will want to avoid using etc. at the end of a list that begins with e.g., as they both indicate that your list is not complete. As we mentioned previously, e.g. means “for example,” and etc. translates to “and the rest.” Both of these meanings will show the reader that your list is not a comprehensive list.

Final Thoughts on i.e. and e.g.

I.e. and e.g. can be useful tools to enhance your writing. When determining which one to use, remember that you can substitute “in other words” for i.e., and “for example” for e.g. You can be sure to match the letters of these substitutions to the first letter of the abbreviation.

If you are unsure of yourself when it comes to i.e. or e.g., let eContent Pro (eCPro) help you.

At eCPro, we take pride in providing top-notch editorial services that are tailored to meet the needs of our clients. With over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, we have earned a reputation for delivering high-quality work that is error-free and polished to perfection at the quickest turnaround time.

When you choose eCPro for your copy editing and academic proofreading needs, you can rest assured that you are working with a team of experts who are passionate about what they do. Our native English-speaking copy editors and certified proofreaders are highly experienced and specialize in over 10 research areas, ensuring that your document is in good hands.

In addition, we use Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature to perform edits, allowing you to easily review and manage the changes made to your document. We also follow various style guides, including APA 7th edition, MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and more, to ensure that your document adheres to the standards set by your academic institution or publisher.

So why wait? Contact us today to learn more about our editorial services and how we can help you achieve your publishing goals. With our team of experts by your side, you can be confident that your document will be polished to perfection and ready to stand out in the competitive publishing landscape.

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About eContent Pro

Based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA, eContent Pro offers high-quality end-to-end editorial and publishing services, ensuring seamless workflows through the eContent Pro Business Enterprise Management System (BEMS), fast turnaround times, competitive pricing, and exceptional customer service. Since 1994, we have supported commercial publishers, university/library presses, organizations, and societies by streamlining their publishing workflow with innovative publishing solutions.

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