Latin abbreviations: e.g. and i.e.

The two Latin abbreviations of e.g. and i.e. are commonly used in academic texts, so it is essential to understand what they mean and how they function in English usage. This post defines and describes how to use these two abbreviations, with practical examples provided.

What do e.g. and i.e. mean?

e.g. and i.e.

The full Latin form of e.g. is exempli gratia, which translates in English to ‘for example’; while the full Latin form of the abbreviation i.e. is id est, which translates in English to ‘that is’, although it can also be thought of as ‘in other words’ or ‘in essence’.

Examples in use

When researchers collect data, they need to consider how they will protect the identities of the study participants, e.g. through anonymising the respondents’ names in order to preserve their confidentiality. (Here, everything after e.g. represents an example of how to protect identities during the research process)

Qualitative data is concerned with the richness of the data, i.e. not how much data is collected, but how useful it will be to shine light on the research topic. (Here, everything after i.e. explains the nature of qualitative data in other words)

When should I use these abbreviations?

E.g. and i.e. should primarily be used in written form, and it is very unusual to find these Latin abbreviations employed in speech. While e.g. is widely used in both formal and informal writing, i.e. is mostly used in formal writing only.

Is it not better to use the full forms?

Some academic fields such as stylistics encourage the use of the abbreviated forms (e.g. and i.e.) only when placed inside parenthesis, and for the full English forms (for example and that is) to only be used within the main body of the text. You will need to check the stylistic preferences of your programme handbook and/or the relevant course tutor.

Should I italicise e.g. and i.e.?

While Latin words and phrases should always be italicised when written in their full form (exempli gratia and id est), the question of whether the abbreviated forms should be italicised is again a stylistic choice, and will depend on your personal preference, programme guidelines and/or professor’s preference.