I got used to using 'i.e.' and 'e.g.' to give more details or give examples, but I have been told that I overuse them. When is it appropriate to remove them? When should I absolutely use them?

I feel I should use it all the time if I use one of those at least once in a manuscript.

  • 9
    Shouldn’t the title be “Overuse of, e.g., i.e.?”
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 12 '21 at 15:17
  • 1
    It's not really an academics question, more of a grammar or English usage question.
    – puppetsock
    Aug 12 '21 at 17:18
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    @puppetsock but as far as I know it is used in academic writing, thus my question in 'Academia' :)
    – Pierre O
    Aug 12 '21 at 17:41
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    @PierreO - that comment was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it does demonstrate how those both break up the flow of sentences.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 12 '21 at 17:49
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    @JonCuster That was definitely a good one ;)
    – Pierre O
    Aug 12 '21 at 17:54

If you are told by an editor or a reviewer that it is too much, then make a change to satisfy them.

Otherwise don't worry too much about it, though it is a good idea to keep such things as overuse of any sort of technique or phrasing in mind.

The key is that the language should flow. If it gets stilted in any way, make an adjustment. We all probably need to improve.

But note that taking them all out and replacing them with "that is" and "for example" might seem just as stilted.

  • I was thinking more of removing them with just parenthesis. "This was observed in the literature (for fish, Johns 2010, for bears, Keith 2019)" instead of "This was observed in the literature (e.g. for fish, Johns 2010, for bears, Keith 2019)"
    – Pierre O
    Aug 12 '21 at 17:44
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    @PierreO "This was observed in the literature for several species, including fish (Johns 2010) and bears (Keith 2019)." Aug 12 '21 at 18:45
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    @lighthousekeeper not sure why I am not used to write it like this but this is a very good example!
    – Pierre O
    Aug 13 '21 at 8:22
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    @lighthousekeeper or even just "This was observed in fish (Johns 2010) and bears (Keith 2019)." Aug 13 '21 at 9:13

You are writing in English, not Latin. You should avoid using e.g or i.e. That's what my high school English teachers told me.

If replacing them with "for example" and "that is" makes your prose too stilted, then you need to reword your sentences.

Writing is not easy. Unfortunately, artful writing is not particularly rewarded, so few academics bother.

  • 1
    The e.g and i.e. are very popular in research papers (at least in health, economics, and finance areas)
    – Louise
    Aug 13 '21 at 4:03
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    @NoviceMindset and ecology, biology, medicine, physics, chemistry...etc :) I have seen it in many other fields
    – Pierre O
    Aug 13 '21 at 8:22
  • Normally teachers teach pupils how to fill a page. The English teachers, as well those teaching any other language, do not think in terms of number of characters. At least they won't put a numerical upper limit to them.
    – Alchimista
    Aug 13 '21 at 10:36
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    Your teacher was incorrect. "i.e." and "e.g." are just as legitimate English as other import words like "pajamas" and "hors d'oeuvres"
    – jakebeal
    Aug 13 '21 at 14:30

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