A zoo of Latinistic abbreviations have crept into academic English: ‘e.g.’, ‘i.e.’, ‘cf.’, ‘viz.’, ‘ibid.’, ‘op. cit.’, ‘n.b.’, ‘et al.’

They are frequently mispunctuated. Most commonly sighted are ‘eg.’, ‘ibid’, ‘et. al.’, even ‘et. al’. They are frequently misused: ‘cf.’ to mean ‘see’; ‘e.g.’ to mean ‘i.e.’ But none of that matters, as they should all be generally avoided.

Several have English equivalents that are everywhere superior: ‘for example’ or ‘for instance’ for ‘e.g.’; ‘that is’ for ‘i.e.’; ‘compare’ for ‘cf.’; ‘note that’ for ‘n.b.’; ‘namely’ for ‘viz.’ The specialized abbreviation ‘et al.’ should be restricted to the technical use in shortening lists of authors in a reference. ‘N.b.’ can be dropped, since you typically want your reader to “note” pretty much everything in your paper. Those used for back-reference to citations, ‘ibid.’ and ‘op. cit.’, ought to die an unapologetic death given the use of a reasonable citation style, viz., author-date.

I have an inordinate fondness for ‘viz.’ Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.

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