Using abbreviations

Abbreviations are commonly used in academic texts, particularly when making reference within the text, and can vary depending on the reference system. The following chart supplies some examples of the more common abbreviations and their use. Note that conventions for punctuation may vary. Thus, when writing for publication, always consult the publisher's style sheet. 

Abbreviation

Short for

   Use/Meaning

c./ca.

circa

approximately, about

cf.             

confer

compare with

edn.,edns.

edition(s)

Used in a reference list to specify the edition of the work cited.

e.g.

exempli gratia

for example, for instance

et al.

et alii

and others

fig., figs.

figure(s)

Used when referring to figures in a text of work.

i.e.

id est

which is to say, in other words, that is

l., ll.

line(s)

Used when referring to lines in a text.

MS/m.s.

manuscriptum

Can be used when referencing a manuscript.

NB/n.b.

nota bene

take special note of; note

n.d.

no date (of publication)

Used in referencing when a date is unknown - quite common with website addresses.

p., pp.

page(s)

Used for indicating page numbers when referencing.

passim

passim

frequently, in every part, in many places, too many references to list

sec.

section

Used when referring to sections of a text.

v., vs.

versus

Against.

viz.

videlicet

namely, that is to say, in other words

vol., vols.

volume(s)

Used for indicating volume numbers in referencing.

A Swedish perspective: Swedish sid. vs. English p./pp. (click to expand/contract)

Sometimes, English has two separate abbreviations, depending on whether the abbreviation has singular or plural reference. Swedish normally uses the same form for both types. Note, for example, the following contrast:

sid. 4

(one page)

p. 4

sid. 4-13

(several pages)

pp. 4-13


Advice: on regularity (click to expand/contract)

Some of these abbreviations are used more regularly than others. The more reading of academic texts the more familiar the use of abbreviations become. If you are unsure, avoid abbreviating or check with your supervisor/lecturer/tutor and the departmental style guide.