By engaging with the literature either in published books, journal articles or other academic material, you will undoubtedly encounter common Latin abbreviations (cf., et al., etc.). Then, in the case of the academic writing of assignments, dissertations and theses, there will be opportunities to use these abbreviations to guide your readers.
Having a clear understanding of the meanings and usage of Latin abbreviations is essential. So, there is a strong case for understanding the functions and forms of these abbreviations to help you correctly interpret the texts you are reading, while ensuring that your intended meaning in your writing echoes that understood by your reader.
Why use Latin abbreviations in your writing?
The rational for using any abbreviation is that is saves space: it takes fewer words to write etc. than to write et cetera or the English equivalent of ‘and others’. Also, being able to introduce such abbreviations into your text will make your writing appear more academic and scholarly.
The following is a list of common Latin abbreviations, their meaning and usage (note that e.g. and i.e. are explained separately here):
|c.||circa||(around) Highlights that the date shown is approximate.|
|cf.||confere||(compare) Suggests the reader compares one statement or group of references with another.|
|etc.||et cetera||(and others) Indicates that there are more unstated items on a list.|
|et al.||et alii||(and other people) Indicates that there are more authors than those listed, and is often used when there are 4 or more authors.|
|ibid.||ibidem||(in the same place) Used in endnotes and footnotes when you cite the same source and page number/range.|
|id.||idem||(the same person) Used in endnotes and footnotes when you cite the same source but a different page number/range.|
|sic||sic erat scriptum||(as was written) Confirms that a reproduced error was in the original source.|
|sup.||supra||(as above) Informs that the information or citation has already been provided in an earlier footnote or reference.|
|vs.||versus||(as opposed to) Signposts a comparison.|
Here are examples of these common Latin abbreviations in use:
|c.||The revolutionary seeds were sown in the late nineteenth century (c.1880).|
|cf.||Weller (2013) reports positive outcomes in her laboratory work, in contrast to that from previous research (cf. Drove & Perez, 2010).|
|etc.||Smoking causes a range of illnesses such as cancer, emphysema, heart disease, etc.|
|et al.||In contrast, Dryle et al. (2002) found that traditional testing may not necessarily result in the same effect.|
|ibid.||1. Silverman, D. (2005) Doing Qualitative Research, London: Sage, p.87.
|id.|| 1. Silverman, D. (2005) Doing Qualitative Research, London: Sage, p.87.
3. Id., p.91.
|sic||Williams (1997) asserts that “our own work has shown that teachers developing there [sic] formative assessment practices produce improvements in learning”.|
|sup.||1. Robson, C. (2011) Real World Research, Chichester: Wiley.
2. Silverman, D. (2005) sup. at p.74.
|vs.||The economic debate focused on growth vs. social welfare.|