Website Writing Guide

Punctuation

Abbreviations - eg, ie and etc

Abbreviations are useful for reducing the number of words on a page and for preventing the annoying repetition of names and titles.

However, too many abbreviations on a page can make the text look messy and too casual. Writers need to judge when to use an abbreviation and how many to use on a page - see acronyms.

Common abbreviations

Abbreviations for brevity

For example - eg

That is - ie

Et cetera - etc

Common abbreviations

Do not use full stops with these types of abbreviations:

  • titles: Mrs Prof
  • units of measurement: 7 km 18 kgs
  • page numbers: p 34
  • abbreviations with capital letters: USA, UN, BA, PhD

There are some commonly accepted abbreviations of certain words. For example:

  • arch. - architecture
  • def. - definition
  • ed.  - edition

Refer to the Macquarie Dictionary if in doubt about an abbreviation and its punctuation.

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Abbreviations for brevity

Abbreviations may be used for brevity and for preventing the annoying repetition of names and titles.

On first occurrence of the abbreviation, spell out the full title or term for which it is an abbreviation and indicate the abbreviation in brackets after the full title or term.  

Use capitals for the first letter of each word in an abbreviation. This helps readers differentiate the abbreviation from the same words if used in a generic sense.

Example 1: The subject of the abbreviation is obvious and the use of capitals avoids confusion

  • The Australian Government provides many services online so regional communities can access them more easily. The services offered online by the Government are similar to those offered by governments around the world.

 

Example 2: The subject of the abbreviation may not be obvious

  • The Competitor Analysis and Marketing  Report (Marketing Report) was completed last week. The Marketing Report contains many excellent recommendations.

 

Example 3: Abbreviation for brevity

  • The Information Communications Technology Committee (ICT Committee) has made some important recommendations about the organisation’s use of email. The ICT Committee will provide a briefing in the next few weeks.

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For example - eg

The common abbreviations, eg, ie and etc, are overused so use them sparingly.

Providing examples to illustrate a point is a powerful means of instruction. However, do not overuse the abbreviation, eg. There are alternative expressions like, such as or including, or perhaps begin a new sentence with the phrase, For example, ...

If it is appropriate to use eg in a sentence, punctuate it according to the first example:

  • There are many plastics that are difficult to recycle - eg plastic film, packaging.
  • There are many plastics that are difficult to recycle eg plastic film, packaging.
  • There are many plastics that are difficult to recycle eg plastic film, packaging etc.
  • There are many plastics that are difficult to recycle eg plastic film and packaging.
  • There are many plastics that are difficult to recycle e.g. plastic film, packaging.

 

That is - ie

Try to avoid using ie. If a sentence requires further clarification using, that is or ie, it probably means the meaning is not clear enough. If further clarification is required, either improve the clarity of expression or elaborate in a new sentence.

Et cetera - etc

Try to avoid using etc. It rarely adds meaning to a sentence. It simply indicates that there are more instances or examples of something than listed in the sentence. It does not state what they are or how many.

In the interests of brevity and plain English, etc can almost always be omitted.

If etc is required, do not use it at the end of a list that starts with eg because it is superfluous as the eg already suggests the list is a select few and there may be more instances that could be cited.

See Acronyms.

Other topics in this section

Home Guide | Basic punctuation rules | Lists - bullets, numbers, hyperlinks | Capitals |
Hyphens
| Abbreviations | Web page addresses | Italics | Quotations | Numbers |
Dates and times
| Citing references |

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