Common Latin Abbreviations(Current usage/news)
Abbreviation Latin English usage ------------ ----- ------------- ca. circa approximately cf. confer compare e.g. exempli gratia for example et al. et alii and the others etc. et cetera and so on ibid. ibidem in the same place as the previous reference i.e. id est that is N.B. Nota Bene note well P.S. post scriptum an addition to the main text viz. videlicet namely Usage notes ----------- ca. This works best with dates and in parenthesis. The house was built during the Depression (ca. 1932). cf. This can be replaced with "see" or "compare". e.g. Style manuals disagree on the use of periods. Where possible, the words "for example" (spelled out and in English) can be used to improve clarity. They purchased luxury goods (for example, champaign). etc. Where possible, the words "and so on" to improve clarity. i.e. Style manuals disagree on the use of periods. Where possible, the words "that is" are preferred. John left the city of his birth (that is, New York). N.B. This is capitalised.Commentary and usage suggestions on Latin abbreviations found on the web...
All of these antiquated Latin abbreviations at one time had an important purpose. They functioned as a secondary, parenthetical language which sifted through, evaluated, qualified references for the reader. Eighteenth-century scholars used all of these designations as a way of talking to each other in code, telling each other what to expect from their sources. It was a natural mode of discourse for them--they all studied Latin, of course.
In standard writing, use the English equivalent or write out the whole word.
Nowadays many publishers discourage the use of these Latin expressions and their abbreviations in footnotes and endnotes (presumably because so few people know what they mean!), but some publishers (Oxford University Press, for example) seem to insist on them. Anyway, these are the most commonly used in references, footnotes etc., should you come across them, or feel the urge to start using them yourselves.
Do not italicize or underline these abbreviations. Most sources recommend avoiding the use of Latin abbreviations except within parenthetical notes and some sources say not to use Latin abbreviations at all (use the English terms instead) except within citations or reference lists.
The rule about using these Latin abbreviations is very simple: don't use them. Their use is only appropriate in special circumstances in which brevity is at a premium, such as in footnotes. It is very poor style to spatter your page with these things, and it could be disastrous to use them without being quite sure what they mean. If you do use one, make sure you punctuate it correctly.
English Usage Site MapWelcome page Table of contents/About this site [ Dictionary abbreviations ]
Acronyms Articles and essays Names of colours
Online dictionaries ESL/EFL The history of English
Homework/composition help Organizations and societies Potpourri
Punctuation marks Phrase and word origins Received pronunciation
Recreation, creativity, offbeat Literary criticism Jargon, slang, and niche vocabularies
Terms of endearment and flirting The swot's corner The whole nine yards
9/11 Coinages Archives Downloads
Guest articles and drafts English forum The alt-usage-english home page
Search the English Usage SiteTo search the english-usage site, enter your keywords in the text area below, use the checkbox to signal an "exact match", and press the button to initiate your search. You will then be directed to a page containing your search results.
Query the alt.usage.english newsgroup using DejaThe alt.usage.english (aue) archives extend back to the birth of the newsgroup (May, 1991). To query a past discussion about a word or phrase origin, enter it in the text box below and press the button. This will open a new browser window with your search results.
Reference information and site correspondence