English, writing

Fig., Figs., and Figs – and not a fig in sight!

How do you abbreviate ‘figure’ and ‘figures’ when used in a scientific paper?

In general, the rule is that when an abbreviation ends with the same letter as the word written out in full, a period (full stop) is not used. For example, Dr. Smith, but Drs Dupont and Dupond. However, in the case of Figures, both Fig., Figs., and Figs are acceptable and used. Therefore, you should follow the example used in the journal, i.e., check the formatting guidelines or look at other articles published recently in that journal. If in doubt, choose one style and use it consistently!

P.S. Perhaps a more day-to-day example is that (in British English) we write Mr Smith and Mrs Jones as opposed to Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones because both of these words end with the same letter as the abbreviated form; that is, Mister and Mistress. However, in American English, a period is used after both Mr. and Mrs., so perhaps the most important lesson is that consistency and clarity are the most important factors.

argentina, English, writing

We shall do this, but you will do that.

A diversion into English grammar today. My husband, who is Argentinian, asked me about the usage of ‘shall’ and ‘will’.

Generally, shall and will are used to express something that happens in the future. For example,

I shall go to the cinema.

She will go to the cinema.

We shall go to the cinema.

They will go to the cinema.

So, the rule is that I and we take shall; whereas, she/he/it and they take will. Conversely, when you want to be forceful, i.e., use the imperative, reverse the usage. For example,

I will not kill!

She shall not kill!

We will not kill!

They shall not kill!

Furthermore, when using the negative, the following contractions are used.

‘Shan’t’ for ‘shall not’.

‘Won’t’ for ‘will not’.

Moreover, for the conditional, the same rules are used for ‘would’ and ‘should’.

However, in modern usage, will (and would), are pretty consistently used in speech rather than shall (and should). I imagine that this is because, in speech, the British use the contracted forms ‘I’ll’, ‘she’ll’, and ‘we’ll’, leading to a loss in distinction between shall and will.

In conclusion, will people understand you if you mix will and shall? Certainly, they will!