e.g. & i.e.

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.


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