Consider the following sentences:

  • foo is bar (see, for example, baz).
  • foo is bar (see, e.g., baz).
  • foo is bar (cf. for example baz).
  • foo is bar (cf. e.g., baz).

Which of these are valid to use, and which is better? Or - does it depend on what we actually instead of foo, bar and baz?

  • 10
    “cf.” means “compare”, not “see”. See, e.g., here. And as for your question, cf., e.g., this. – Dan Romik Feb 1 at 22:07
  • @DanRomik: In that case, I've seen it misused. But +1 on your comment. – einpoklum Feb 1 at 22:09
  • 3
    I've also seen it misused, but its proper use is well-defined (see, e.g. cf.). – Anyon Feb 1 at 23:48

The recent trend in non-legal English formal writing is to just use the English equivalent of the Latin abbreviation, so compare rather than cf. and for example rather than e.g. This also obviates the confusion about what cf. means and the distinction between e.g. and i.e.

On the other hand, using Latin abbreviations like et al. and ibid. for citations makes more sense.


The term means compare. So you would normally just see "c.f. X" where X is what you want compared. Like:

Foo is bar (c.f. SNAFU).

P.s. You may have instances where you want to emphasize that there are many comparisons and thus use the e.g., but I would typically omit it and just give specific comparison(s). Tighter writing.

  • 2
    "Cf." abbreviates a single Latin word (some form of conferre), so it only gets one period. – JeffE Feb 2 at 10:53

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.