How to Use "et al." | Editor World

How to Use "et al."

What is the Meaning of “et al.”?

"Et al." is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase "et alii" or "et alia," which translates to "and others" in English. It is used to indicate that there are additional authors or contributors beyond those explicitly mentioned.


In academic and scholarly writing, "et al." is commonly used in citations, reference lists, and bibliographies to represent multiple authors (three or more) when citing a source. It is an efficient way to acknowledge all contributors without listing all of the names, especially when there are numerous authors involved.


For example, if a research paper has several authors, the first citation may include all authors’ names, but all following in-text citations may use "et al." to refer to them collectively. This means that the first time the article is referenced, the author would state “Williams, Clark, and Fisher (2010)”. Every time that same article is mentioned after that, the author would write “Williams et al. (2010)”.


How to Use “et al.” in Citations

Here's another example of how “et al.” is used in a citation:

- First citation: Anong, Johnson, Anderson, and Brown (2022)

- Subsequent citations: Anong et al. (2022)


By using “et al.”, the reader understands that there are three or more additional authors not explicitly listed in the citation.


It’s important to note that the usage and formatting of “et al.” varies depending on the citation style or guidelines you are following. Each style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, has its own rules for using “et al.” for in-text citations and reference lists. You need to consult the appropriate style guide for the specific rules and conventions of your chosen citation style.


Some journals do not require you to follow a specific style guide, but do request that you keep your reference formatting consistent. If you’re submitting to the Journal of Economic Psychology, for example, “references can be in any style or format as long as the style is consistent.”


Using “et al.” in Reference Lists

In a reference list or bibliography, “et al.” is sometimes used to indicate multiple authors for a particular source. This applies for some, but not all, style guides. Here's an example:

   - For an article with multiple authors: Anong, S., Solis, O., et al. (2022). Title of the article. Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page range.

   Note: The first few authors’ names (up to and including three authors) are listed, followed by “et al.” to indicate additional authors.


It’s important to follow the specific citation style recommended by your academic institution or the guidelines provided by the publication you are writing for. Different citation styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, may have specific rules for using “et al.” in citations. Make sure to consult the appropriate style guide for the specific formatting and citation requirements.


APA Style “et al.”

In APA (American Psychological Association) style, “et al.” is used to represent multiple authors in in-text citations and reference lists. Here's how “et al.” is used in APA style:

1. Et al. in-text citations:

For sources with three or more authors: In the first in-text citation, list all the authors’ names. In subsequent citations, use the first author's last name followed by “et al.” and the publication year. For example:

     - First citation: (Anong, West, Anderson, & Brown, 2022)

     - Subsequent citations: (Anong et al., 2022)


 For sources with two authors: Always include both authors’ names in the in-text citation, connected by an ampersand (&). For example:

     - (Anong & West, 2022)


2. Reference list:

   - List up to 20 authors: Include the names of all authors in the reference list.

   - List more than 20 authors: After the 19th author's name, use an ellipsis (...) and then include the last author's name. For example:

     Anong, S., Johnson, A., Anderson, B., ... Brown, C.


Remember to follow the specific APA guidelines for your particular source type, such as journal articles, books, or websites. This is important because there may be slight variations in formatting and punctuation for each type.


It’s necessary to consult the official APA Publication Manual (currently the 7th edition) or online resources provided by the APA for comprehensive guidance on citing sources and using “et al.” correctly in APA style.


“Et al.” in a Sentence

One example of using “et al.” in a sentence following APA Style if the authors are Zhong, Xiao, and Su is: “Zhong et al. (2005) found a gender difference in behavior.” This could also be written as “Research has shown a gender difference in behavior (Zhong et al., 1995). Note that the first time the paper by Zhong et al. (2005) is noted, all authors’ names would be included: “Zhong, Xiao, and Su (2005) found a gender difference in behavior.”