Latin terms and abbreviations

Follow the guidelines below when using Latin terms and abbreviations.

Use of italics

Latin terms or phrases may be printed in either Roman or italic type, depending on the degree to which the term has been assimilated into English:

  • ad nauseam, ad infinitum; but ad interim (for the meantime)
  • add a caveat, come with a caveat; but Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware)

If you are unsure whether to italicize a specific term, the easiest solution is to check the Canadian Oxford Dictionary; if the term is normally italicized, it will be italicized in the dictionary entry.

The following Latin reference terms are always italicized:

  • idem
  • infra
  • sic
  • supra
  • vide

In non-legal writing, the abbreviations for Latin expressions are generally printed in roman type, even when the full term is italicized. Here are some of the most common examples:

  • AD (Anno Domini = in the year of Our Lord)
  • ca., c. (circa = about)
  • cf. (confer = compare)
  • e.g. (exempli gratia = for example)
  • et al. (et alia = and others)
  • etc. (et cetera = and the rest)
  • et seq. (et sequentia = and the following)
  • ibid. (ibidem = in the same place)
  • id. (idem = in the same place; used in legal writing)
  • i.e. (id est = that is)
  • loc. cit. (loco citato = in the passage cited earlier)
  • op. cit. (opere citato = in the work cited earlier)
  • NB (nota bene = take careful note)
  • PS (postscript)
  • QED (quod erat demonstrandum = which was to be proved)
  • q.v. (quod vide = see this)
  • v., vs. (versus)
  • viz. (videlicet= namely, in other words)

Use of periods

When a Latin abbreviation consists of two abbreviated terms, a period follows each abbreviated term: for example, e.g., i.e., loc. cit., op. cit., q.v. (Note that there is no space after the first period in the abbreviations e.g., i.e. and q.v.)

The following Latin terms are not abbreviations and are never followed by a period unless they are placed at the end of a sentence:

  • ad
  • ad hoc
  • et
  • ex
  • finis
  • idem
  • in
  • infra
  • par
  • per
  • pro
  • re
  • sic
  • supra
  • via

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© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement
A tool created and made available online by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada

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