NB, N.B., nb, n.b. (nota bene = note well) vs. Note

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Source: Australian research report called "Sentencing snapshot: Robbery", by NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Context: A table in the report shows the following note.




I've looked up "nota bene", which is an abbreviation for "NB", in the WR dictionary and it says it means "note well". Do people use "NB" (or N.B., nb, n.b.) because "note" alone wouldn't draw enough attention or would be rather impolite?

NB. The table only includes offenders who had both an aggregate sentence and a minimum term
vs.
Note. The table only includes offenders who had both an aggregate sentence and a minimum term
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I've looked up "nota bene", which is an abbreviation for "NB",
    This is incorrect. "NB" is an abbreviation for "nota bene", not the other way round.
    Do people use "NB" (or N.B., nb, n.b.) because "note" alone wouldn't draw enough attention or would be rather impolite?
    Neither. Plain "note" draws enough attention and it would not be impolite. People just use "NB" because it makes them look clever.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There are four very common Latin abbreviations used in English: N.B., e.g., i.e., and etc. Most people wouldn't know what the first three stood for, but they still use them. (They know what etc. stands for because they say it that way, et cetera - more or less that way, anyway.)
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Oh...I realized that I asked a wrong question. If most people know what N.B. means (not stands for :cross:), then I'll happily use it. :)

    (OT: I've been unable to locate a button to cross out text. I use Google Chrome.)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It seems it's probably most common in academic and intellectual writing. People in those fields would know what it means. If you're talking about the general population, there definitely would be people who don't know what it means or what the abbreviation means. So it all depends on the context and your target audience. The example you gave sounds like academic writing, more or less.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I know about "e.g.", "etc.", and "i.e." and have seen/used them many times in the past, but I saw "NB" for the first time today.
    I find typing "e.g." more efficient than typing "exempli gratia" or "for example", and typing "etc." more efficient than typing "et cetra", but to be honest I don't find typing "NB" or "nb" (especially with periods) not at all more efficient than typing "Note".
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would expect that if you use a lot of i.e.'s and e.g.'s (and ibids and c.f.'s) then n.b.'s would be appropriate. It's a style of writing.

    But if you have one note to make and it's not academic writing, then Note: is fine. (As is "for example").
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    If you are hoping to learn from this experience (besides how to write NB), I would have suggested they change the table:) As it stands, it is possible for people to miss the important note. I would have put an * after Offender in the column title and used it in front of the note below the table in place of the NB.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I would expect that if you use a lot of i.e.'s and e.g.'s (and ibids and c.f.'s) then n.b.'s would be appropriate. It's a style of writing.
    Would you say it's better to use "n.b." in the following example?



    Source: Book titled "OECD Economic Surveys: LUXEMBOURG".


    If you are hoping to learn from this experience (besides how to write NB), I would have suggested they change the table:) As it stands, it is possible for people to miss the important note. I would have put an * after Offender in the column title and used it in front of the note below the table in place of the NB.
    Yes, that would be more effective. :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Would you say it's better to use "n.b." in the following example?



    Source: Book titled "OECD Economic Surveys: LUXEMBOURG".
    That would depend on the style of the report. Whenever I've published papers with figures and tables, each had a number (e.g., Fig.1 or Table 2 etc) and that indentifier would be in the position of the Note in your example, where the text provides important information about the data/processing. It would be called a Table or Figure legend. In your example, there won't be much difference (other than style) whether you use Note or NB:)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't have enough experience to know if it's "better". I haven't made a career of writing tables. But it looks okay to me as a layman. But, as Julian says, it might be more of a standard table legend than a special note.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    There are four very common Latin abbreviations used in English: N.B., e.g., i.e., and etc. Most people wouldn't know what the first three stood for, but they still use them. (They know what etc. stands for because they say it that way, et cetera - more or less that way, anyway.)
    Another very common abbreviation is PS. Like NB, e.g. and i.e., most people would not know what it stands for, but it is very often used.
     
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