Saturday, May 5, 2012

et al., i.e., e.g., etc.

Only time for a short post. Foreign words are italicized frequently in English; however, et al., i.e., e.g., and etc. probably should not be. It draws unnecessary attention to the words and modern style manuals will tell you not to italicize them.

Of more relevance to the TeX world: make sure the space after the period is an interword space unless the abbreviation is actually ending the sentence. The length of the space is control by a variety of factors in TeX, the most important of which is the \spacefactor. LaTeX provides \@ to reset the space factor and a control space \ can be used to produce a normal space. Examine TeX by Topic for details.


  1. I wonder whether there is a way of making such elements (i.e., et al., etc.) even less attention-grabbing. I have experimented with slightly smaller font-size, but not quite sure whether it makes them less noticeable or if it actually generates some level of noise. (In my defence, though, comes to mind that many punctuation symbols started out as words.)