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Subject:e.g. & i.e. From:Ruess Kevin <Ruess -dot- Kevin -at- PBGC -dot- GOV> Date:Mon, 25 Nov 1996 09:11:25 -0500
Over roughly eight years of working as a technical communicator, I have informally surveyed audiences on the meaning and use of the Latin abbreviations i.e. and e.g. These are rough estimates, but I think the composite survey results (I've done it five or six times) would be as follows:
People who can name the Latin words the abbreviations stand for -- <5%
People who can identify the English equivalents for e.g. (for example) and
i.e. (that is) -- <30%
People who believe e.g. and i.e. are interchangeable -- >50%
Given these results, particularly the last one, I recommend against using Latin abbreviations in English technical writing.
Do not imagine that college graduates will know these abbreviations. The only times I use them confidently are when writing for lawyers or academics.