Understanding Abbreviations: e.g. or i.e.

You need to understand the difference between e.g. or i.e. before you begin writing research papers and other pieces of written work. Writers will often use e.g. or i.e. as if they are interchangeable, but there are several differences between the two. Here we discuss the difference between the two abbreviations, including: their Latin and English translations, examples of appropriate uses, and how to present these in terms of parentheses and punctuation.


This is the Latin abbreviation for “exempli gratia,” meaning “for example.” Use e.g. when you want to give several examples relating to a previous statement: “I like many TV shows (e.g., The Office, Survivor, Dallas).”


This is the Latin abbreviation for “id est,” meaning “that is.” Use i.e. when you want to further explain or rephrase a previous statement: “I like many TV shows (i.e., I’ll watch pretty much anything).”

These abbreviations definitely do not mean the same thing, so be careful when you are selecting e.g. or i.e. in your writing. However, there are some similarities when it comes to the punctuation and presentation of both abbreviations. Both abbreviations can be used inside or outside parentheses, but it is strongly encouraged that you use e.g. or i.e. in parentheses for professional and technical writing (e.g., your thesis or dissertation, future journal articles, etc.). Always use lowercase letters for these abbreviations even if the abbreviations begin a sentence, and always punctuate abbreviations with appropriately placed periods without spaces and with commas after the second periods (i.e., see the previous examples).



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