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These abbreviations come from Latin:

  • e.g.: exempli gratia, meaning “for example.”
  • i.e.: id est, meaning “it is”

Use a period after each letter, but no space. Always follow either with a comma. It’s often best to use them in parentheses, but that isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Capitalize them only at the beginning of a sentence or in a title – where they generally shouldn’t occur unless you’re talking about the terms themselves.

The abbreviations are common in English, so we do not italicize them. However, the words are uncommon, so they should be italicized.

Webcomic the Oatmeal offers an entertaining guide on when to use “ie” and “eg.”

Examples

Avoid: The Memphis crew provided Gibson’s donuts, e.g., the best in town.
Try: The Memphis crew provided Gibson’s donuts, i.e., the best in town.

Avoid: Gibson’s has lots of different donuts (i.e., maple bacon, World’s Fair, New Orleans, and cinnamon sugar).
Try: Gibson’s has lots of different donuts (e.g., maple bacon, World’s Fair, New Orleans, and cinnamon sugar).