Excuse me if I am on the wrong StackExchange site. I write about Physics in English and typeset that with LaTeX.

So I have a variable c, and there are two of them in the same expression. I want to say that the formula looks ill-defined because the same letter represents for two different things. How would I write the plural of the variable c? Those are my ideas:

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From the APA Style blog I gather that “cs” is the way to do it, but I am not sure about this. What is the way to go?

  • 2
    The APA style is not universal; lots of people use c's. – Peter Shor Jan 2 '16 at 14:52
  • 4
    Consider recasting the sentence: … as each c is a member of a different field. – Dale Hartley Emery Jan 2 '16 at 18:11
  • 2
    Anything but using the apostrophe-S to make a plural. I like @DaleHartleyEmery's rewriting the best, but your fourth and fifth examples work also. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jan 2 '16 at 18:32
  • 1
    Consider placing a comma before "as," or replace "as" with "because." english.stackexchange.com/questions/80628/… – rolfedh Jan 2 '16 at 21:05
  • I recommend "because both c variables are..." – rolfedh Jan 5 '16 at 13:41

I would say

as the two variables named c are not part of the same field.

Even if technically acceptable, any form of cs is hard to read. Italics applied to only one letter, especially a round one like c are hard to spot.

I changed "both" to "the two" because both invites the reader to consider two items as one, whereas here you want the reader to consider them separately.

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Some style guides recommend using an apostrophe, although it might not make logical sense, when speaking of "letters as letters" --

Can you say your abc's?

Mind your p's and q's.

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  • The Chicago Manual of Style, to be specific. – gatkin Mar 13 at 17:09

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