Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

eg, e.g., or eg.

I’ve done some research about the use of “for example” in its shortened form, but have been left more confused than ever.

Is it eg, e.g., or eg.? It comes from the Latin “exempli gratia”, so I would have thought it correct to place a period after the e and after the g in place of the missing letters.

Yet, in official documents all over the place I see one or two periods, or none at all. I have in front of me an official document from the New South Wales government, The Board of Studies English K-6 Syllabus. Throughout this document each example is preceded by “eg”, no dots at all. Same with other Board of Studies documents, however other Education Department documents do have e.g.

Personally I think that e.g. is more correct, but seeing no dots at all in an official document on teaching English to primary school students, had me wondering whether the convention in this case has changed, or whether it might simply be a matter of choice with no one way being either right or wrong.

Which is correct, or doesn’t it matter?

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According to the Chicago Manual of Style, it's "e.g." and it's not italicized. It's an abbreviation, so just as you would abbreviate United States to U.S., you do the same with e.g.

(I mention the point about not italicizing because e.g. is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, and foreign language words and phrases are sometimes italicized. However, when they are very common—e.g., "nom de plume"—you don't italicized. Such is the case with e.g. and it's cousin, i.e.

sbhall52 Nov-11-2011

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Either is fine: "eg" or "e.g." Periods in abbreviations that are so readily understood are becoming obsolete, or at least optional.

I don't see "eg." much, with just one period, and if I did, I'd probably assume it was a typo or error.

dave Nov-11-2011

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Interesting, thanks. I suppose on this theme if you were to be hyper-correct, etc. should be et.c. because it stands for et cetera, but everyone seems to write etc. or just etc because it is so readily understood.

Ophelia Nov-11-2011

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I'm with dave. The dots are correct but these days why bother? Everyone understands, and it saves some time. On the other hand, publishing programs tend to correct these 'errors' with or without writers' will being expressed. In like manner, it is no longer necessary to put periods and spaces as well after name initials. J S Bach is fine.

dkc Nov-11-2011

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I'n not saying it's wrong, but I have never seen eg without the dots and I would never write it that way. As for U.S., I think that in many cases you do not see the dots any more.

porsche Nov-11-2011

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Ophelia, with "etc.", why would you put a period after "et"? "Et", as you say, isn't an abbreviation.

As to your original question, I find it a bit disheartening that you find a no-dot "eg" in an English Studies document. Of course, if New South Wales is in Texas, then I can understand....

Tom in TX Nov-13-2011

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*palm to forehead*
Tom, you are right: my mistake.

New South Wales Australia, to be precise.

Ophelia Nov-13-2011

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Love the visual! Glad I can contribute SOMEthing to this site!!!

Tom in TX Nov-13-2011

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I much prefer "e.g." The dotless version makes me want to pronounce it as "egg".

Porsche - what you say about US also seems to be true here in NZ. I hardly ever see the dots any more. For capital abbreviations in general, the dots died quite suddenly in (I would say) the early nineties, and unlike in lower-case abbreviations like e.g., I can't say I miss them.

Chris B Nov-13-2011

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Generally, especially in the US, periods are not used in abbreviations -- especially commonly used ones (eg, ie, am, pm, etc) and also not in US or USA.

I do think foreign words and abbreviations SHOULD BE italicized, but that seems to be on the way out -- in part because it is a pain in the arse to do with most word processors. I do italicize them in formal writing, but not in everyday use.

Bob Sheidler Nov-19-2011

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It's actually spelled "egg".

Hairy Nov-19-2011

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I will be sticking with the no dots in my publications. On the subject of italicization of foreign words, in my case it is usually Latin plant or animal names, and I always use italics for clarity, to distinguish from common names. I don't find it 'a pain' to select and hit "ctrl+I".

dkc Nov-20-2011

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It seems that in the US ex. has come to replace e.g.

i like latin Nov-22-2011

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Perhaps, but if so, I have not often seen it used.

Bob Sheidler Nov-22-2011

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"...the dots died quite suddenly in (I would say) the early nineties..."
Ah yes, the advent of the technological age: birth of widespread human laziness. I would say that just because something is common does not make it right or correct (and yes I use those words separately).

Hacovo Nov-30-2011

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OK, I did not see any discussion about whether the comma is necessary after the e.g. I've had a long-standing argument about this with my boss (I am a technical writer). I prefer it without the comma ("e.g."), but he says the comma should be used ("e.g.,"). I think the comma makes it look clunky and busy. I've seen at least one quasi-official grammar source that says that the comma is preferred but still optional. Any thoughts?

Patrick Hammerfist Dec-12-2011

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I personally never use the comma after the "eg" -- also do not use periods as you notice. To me, commas should only be used where necessary for clarity, or to signal a natural pause in the text (ie where you would pause if reading or speaking out loud).

Bob Sheidler Dec-12-2011

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I agree about the appearance of two bits of punctuation together, but the comma is there for a different reason. The dots on eg are just to tell you it's an abbreviation, but all readers know that, so it is now a relic and does make a cleaner look. However the comma afterwards imitates the hesitation in speech when one says, "For example..." It's signal to the reader that the text will go off on a tangent for a while.

dkc Dec-12-2011

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@Patrick ... Would yu write: "for example, the dog is blue" or "for example the dog is blue"? If yu benote the comma after example, then also benote it after the abbreviation. For me, there should be a comma there.

AnWulf Dec-13-2011

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With periods and a comma: it is an abbreviation; it is a clause. Just because you see it in print doesn't make it right.

eelc12 Jan-13-2012

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I agree with you in principle, eelc12, however it appears that what is right is being re-written as the english language evolves. I would much prefer to write e.g. as you have described above, however those above me disagree and so I must write [eg,] as per their instructions.

New words are added to dictionaries as they come into common usage, and new, shorter ways of writing things seem to be developing. It's almost a case of 'if prominent people use a previously wrong convention often enough, it will eventually become right'.

Ophelia Jan-13-2012

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Interesting thread. I've been having some difficulties in knowing whether to write e.g. or e.g., - the discussion here helped, but I also found a good summary on grammar girls' site. Her summary is:

"Also, I always put a comma after i.e. and e.g. I've noticed that my spell checker always freaks out and wants me to remove the comma, but five out of six style guides recommend the comma. Seriously. I got so engrossed in the question of whether a comma is required after i.e. and e.g. that I made a table for the website summarizing the opinions of six different style guides"

From her table it is apparent that there is some contention about this topic. But based on the comment by AnWulf, I am going to use e.g., (even if it is cumbersome, I think it is correct for formal text documents, for now anyway).

Bonelady Feb-27-2012

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"The American convention is to use full stops (periods) at the end of almost all abbreviations and contractions. The British convention is to use full stops after abbreviations - eg, abbr., adj., co. - but not after contractions - eg, Dr, Mr, Mrs, St."
source: The Economist Style Guide (2005)
This is strange because I would say "e.g." is an abbreviation, but they use "eg" without full stops throughout the whole document.

stringi Feb-28-2012

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I think it's clear that e.g. has to have full stops/periods. It is an abbreviation for exempli gratia and is technically an acronym, in which each of the first two letters is used. These are always presented either with full stops, capital letters or both. Thus, we do use US and could use u.s. if it was not a country name, but could not just write "us." As for putting one full stop at the end that is for abbreviations where the word is "cut," not acronyms so we use abbr. for abbreviation sand adj. for adjective, but could not use eg., unless the word was "egsample" (har har). As for using a comma after it, that should only be done in some cases, like my last sentence (see what I did?). At the beginning of a list, it is wrong. Why not follow logic rather than convention, or if you follow convention, follow all major style guides, which use e.g. I recently wrote a blog post on this issue at if you're interested.

Make Your English Work May-17-2012

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I would certainly use periods, looks clearer and otherwise you could end up with eg on your face.


Thredder Sep-04-2012

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Hilarious! And informative. Thanks for the oatmeal link, GabbyGibby.

Make Your English Work: Great blog post, I agree with your logic. Seems that not everyone does though, hence the confusion many people experience when they see the variety of forms of this abbreviation used even in what purport to be formal documents.
Question: did you mean to write "f.e." rather than "f.r." in the example of the English form of e.g.?

Ophelia Sep-07-2012

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After my doctoral thesis writing since my last post I have come to understand that when used in a sentence there should be a comma, but not when used in brackets.

For example:
A sentence, e.g., when to use a comma
A sentence (e.g. when not to use a comma)

That is how I have used it in my writing anyway.

Bonelady2 Sep-07-2012

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"eg" is fine without full stops, as are other common abbreviations, especially capitalised ones, at least here in the UK.

However, maybe now we could reintroduce the "e.g." form. I think open punctuation was introduced because when using monospaced fonts (eg on typewriters and golfball printers) all those extra punctuation marks look horrible, add lots of visual clutter, and increase the chances of rivers forming in your text. Now, 30 years on, we all use proportionally-spaced fonts and the punctuation marks don't look /quite/ as bad...

Hmm I'm not sure which is most important to me - pedantically following the rules of the English language, or clean, uncluttered typography... I enjoy both :)

Glen Wood Oct-01-2012

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What about people using 'e.g.' followed by a list that ends with 'etc.' (e.g, '(e.g., grammarians, nitpickers, etc.)')? [(I had to try that, despite possible criticisms. :-)] Does not the use of 'etc.' indicate the writer's list is intended not as just a limited set of examples but a totality of possibilities, thus obviating the need for the 'e.g.'?

Bruce François Oct-12-2012

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If it is at the beginning of a sentence, Can it be E.g. ?

Susanna1 Feb-25-2014

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I really love this site, and the design.

Dames May-04-2016

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Hey Pain,

Have to comment on the website first. Just found it, haven't clicked around yet, except for closing the "proof reading popup". I quite like the simplicity for the task it's meant for and the hidden "obnoxious" quirks :)

Sorry for not reading all the comments or a couple of them first, but I reckon since it's "Latin" it is quite open to interpretation.

I can be a grammar confectionist at times, but when it's ambiguous, I myself tend to use the option with less characters. Most probably because of my graphic & web design history. Less characters, smaller file size...

Wilbur Jun-02-2016

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You article is rubbish. No-one with any intelligence will use eg or e.g
Don't ask me to proof-read my document anfd then give a "genius" comment

Peter X Sep-18-2016

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I have heard that 'eg' is being used more often on websites, as it allows screen readers to pronounce it as 'e g' rather than 'e dot g dot' or 'e [sentence pause] g [sentence pause]'. Perhaps that is infiltrating other uses.

Gary1 Nov-02-2016

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I have used eg and ie for a long time. Why waste space or time?
We don't write p.c. for a personal computer, l.e.d. of light emitting diode, etc. (yes, not e.t.c.). I also a agree with Peter X, we say e g, not e dot g dot. I am involved in writing Australian technical Standard, and always drive for efficiency and simplicity.

Bassclimber Jan-13-2018

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E.g. or e.g. is at least twelve times more common in the book corpus used by Google.
"Eg" or "EG" is sometimes an abbreviation for "electrogram", or "elliptical galaxy". For some reason, a few German texts are included in the Google books results, and these use "EG" to mean "Eingriff" and so forth. I have only sighted one valid example of "eg" being used to mean "for example" in this corpus.
From all this I would conclude that "e.g." is the norm.

jayles Jan-13-2018

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Just come across this site as I was taken to task for NOT including stops in eg and wanted to definitively know what's the formal line on this.
[Waaah! EeeeK! Your website wouldn't allow me to write eg. It wanted e.g. !! A subtle ploy to MAKE me do it?]
I have not used stops in dates and abbreviations in years. I agree that it looks cleaner without; the time for old-fashioned flowery style has gone. Even official documents are no longer in this style so we do we need to be? Language, spoken and written evolves. As for saving time: does it? I don't think in this day of fast keyboards that it does but it just looks simpler – and that does it for me.

Jackie Clark Mar-18-2018

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English is full of idiomatic exceptions - forget about rules (that mostly don't exist).
We are participating in International (simplified) English (aka Globish) so let's make it simpler for the majority non-natives (native English speakers are minority ;)
I prefer Eg. or Eg: list,...
I also prioritise international words/symbols, so never use one, two, etc, when it's international (inc. maths) 1 so visually easy.

Is English alows international words & sybols (accented letters), then why not use shortcuts as '&' for 'and', etc?
When it comes to choice of 10s of synomyms, I prefer international (Latin) & regarding pronounciation also more phonetic versions, eg: Da(h)ta, not D(ei)t(ei), if you stick to bot A pronounced consitenlty...
Have fun & add Esperanto for much more simplification & universal communication with the future Robots (billions of them).

Did I tell you that based on Esperanto I avoid articles a/an as obsolete or even ambiguous? If I used them, let me know :)

user110820 May-19-2021

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RE commas after e.g. and i.e. and Bonelady's style guide table - note that these style guides fairly clearly indicate that the use of a comma or not is another US/UK difference; all the pro-commas are US, the one no-comma is UK. I.e. both are (or either style is) correct unless US proofreaders and publishers hegemonically insist that the correct is 'the' correct style!

Fooki52 Dec-11-2021

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Personally, I always use the first two options. They seem to me the most correct and logical. On the other hand, all options are correct and you can use more attractive ones for you. When I used to successfully write my thesis, I managed to use all the options in one paragraph. I discovered this when I gave the text for proofreading and editing. This is not considered a mistake, but a large number of such words makes your text cluttered. Therefore, be careful with such words.

Chols1970 Mar-11-2022

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The Times and Economist style guides have now jettisoned points (eg and ie instead of e.g. and i.e.), but it looked so horrible, retrograde and barbaric that I went online and discovered this discussion. As with the appalling newspaper abolition of italics for books, works of art, etc., this "unilateral" change is symptomatic of the way IT has steamrollered many of the fundamental facilitators of advanced written communication out of existence. Points indicate an abbreviation and preclude semantic/graphic "interference" with "egg", as well as hinting at the Latin phrase which was once a subtle sign of a proper education. The Times these days, sad to say, is but a pale reflection of its former glory in journalistic and literary terms (it leapt onto the feminist/woke bandwagon decades ago), and its slickly written but ultimately dissatisfying style guide simply reflects the intellectual abyss at the heart of a vanished pillar of Western civilisation. Quo vadis? Back to mankind's early days of scratching crude signs on clay and sticks. Next thing to go will be capital letters, I fear.

Martin Davies Mar-11-2023

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I’m glad to see other people have also dropped the periods to show abbreviations. For example, I now just write etc without the . And in my address I use Dr for Drive. No dot. My name is S Ball. The reason I came here is because I thought the rule was (ie, xxxxx) and (e.g. xxxxx) Whether it’s changed or not, aren’t these the original rules? Btw, I know the difference between ie and eg.

Thank you!
Stacie Ball
Word Nerd
Houston, TX

PS My sister and I are both fanatical about English usage, and seem to have both been born editors! Coincidence or could it be heredity? My three kids are all the same way. They never had to be taught how to spell, for example. In Kindergarten, their classmates would hound them for spelling help, to the point that their teachers had to make a new classroom rule to keep it under control. I really feel like great spellers are just born with that gift, while some of the most gifted people I know have trouble with it.

SBall68 Jun-27-2023

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