Latin abbreviations in technical writing


Many style guides as well as simplified English and plain English campaigners share a common goal of wanting to eradicate Latin loan-words from English, and this includes Latin abbreviations.

This post from a 2012 entry on ferswriteshoe blog is nice compact summation of the current thinking in technical writing circles.

I have no need to localize currently (and thankfully) and I appreciate the extra demands that localizing puts on documentation. But, I feel that Latin abbreviations should be used when they can.

Now, what I mean by that, is the most commonly used Latin abbreviations: i.e., e.g., etc. They are short and compact and for anyone learning English as a foreign language these abbreviations are seen as much a part of the language as anything else. They have entries in the dictionaries, their place in written English is very well established and therefore, they are easily recognized.

Why use ‘and so on’ or ‘and so forth’ instead of etc.? I think non-native speakers must find the alternatives to some Latin abbreviations much more confusing than the abbreviations themselves.

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