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In scientific papers, the term "Figure" -- referring to an illustration in the text -- is often abbreviated as "Fig." But is "Figures" abbreviated as "Figs", "Fig.s" or "Figs."? I am proofreading a paper just now and the journal editors have used the abbreviation "Fig." for "Figure" and "Figs" (no period) for "Figures" as in "Figs 2 and 3".

Can anyone explain the convention of abbreviation as it applies in this case?

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jun 3 '12 at 6:16

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

Why would you abbreviate “Figures”, anyway? Yeah sure, academic papers will say to “see Fig. 42”, but I cannot imagine an instance where “Figures” itself would both occur and require abbreviation. – tchrist Jun 3 '12 at 3:27
It depends on the style manual you're using or conventions adopted for a particular publication. Ask your editors. – Alex B. Jun 3 '12 at 3:58
up vote 5 down vote accepted

A quick search on Google shows that the practice of abbreviating Figures really took off in the last 40 years and that it most often appears as Figs. (with the period)

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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, Prof. Smith, but Profs 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.

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Thanks for the great answer, and welcome to the site! – Neil Fein Dec 10 '15 at 23:36

Figures and Figure should normally be abbreviated as Fig. even if you are quoating Fig. 1 to 3 i.e. to say Figure 1, Figure 2 and Figure 3.

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