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“Et Al.”: Meaning & Uses in different Citation Styles

Et Al. Meaning

“Et Al.” is a Latin phrase meaning “and others”. It is commonly used in academic writing when referring to a group of authors in a scholarly work or research paper.

For example, if a research paper has several authors, the first author is listed followed by “et al.” to indicate that there are other authors who contributed to the work. The use of “et al.” helps to simplify the citation and saves space in the reference list.

When & How to use Et Al.

In academic writing, it is important to properly cite all sources used, including the authors of any works or research that has been referenced. When there are multiple authors, it can be cumbersome to list all of their names in a citation or reference. To make this process easier, the first author is listed, followed by “et al.” to indicate that there are additional authors who contributed to the work.

In general, “et al.” is used to simplify citations and make it easier to refer to multiple authors in a work. It is most commonly used when there are three or more authors. In that case, instead of writing down all authors in a citation, the first author is listed followed by “et al.”.

You must be wondering why we use a period after “Et al.”. Keep in mind that the letter “al.” stands for Alia and all of its many forms including Alibi and Alii. The period after “al” shows that it is an acronym.

Et Al. vs. Etc.

“Et al.” and “Etc.” should not be confused with each other as the former is employed to mention people, while the latter is utilized for citing things or ideas.

For Example:

“The book includes contributions from Smith, Johnson, et al., covering various topics such as economics, history, and politics, while the appendix contains a list of abbreviations for academic journals, newspapers, and magazines, etc.”

Understanding the Use of Et Al. in different Citation Styles

When using “et al.” in academic writing, it is important to understand the guidelines and conventions of the citation style you are using. Different citation styles have different rules regarding the use of “et al.”, such as the number of authors to list before using “et al.”, how to format the citation, and when to use “et al.” in in-text citations versus reference lists.

APA Style

If a document has two authors, mention both in the in-text citation. In the seventh edition of the APA format, when citing a work with three or more authors, include the last name of the first author in the signal phrase or parenthesis, and follow it with “et al. In the 7th edition, “et al.” is only implemented for in-text citations and not in the reference list.

For example:

In-text citation: (Smith et al., 2019)

Reference list:

Smith, J., Brown, R., Davis, M., & Johnson, T. (2019). The effects of exercise on mental health. Journal of Health and Fitness, 23(4), 1-10.

MLA Style

Considering MLA just has basic criteria, it’s quite easy to credit sources with multiple authors. If a source has three or more authors, use “et al.”, and always repeat the citation when it appears again. This is applicable for both works cited references and in-text citations that list multiple authors.

For example:

In-text citation: (Smith et al. 23)

Works Cited:

Smith, John, et al. “The effects of exercise on mental health.” Journal of Health and Fitness, vol. 23, no. 4, 2019, pp. 1-10.

Chicago Style

Chicago style recommends mentioning all author names in the in-text citations when a source has one to three authors. However, for sources with four or more authors, it is acceptable to use the first author’s name followed by “et al.” and the year of publication in the in-text citation.

For example:

In-text citation: (Smith et al. 2019)

Reference list:

Smith, John, Harvey Secter, Ryan Brown, and Ross Johnson. 2019. “The effects of exercise on mental health.” Journal of Health and Fitness 23 (4): 1-10.

If there are more than 10  authors of a source, list the first seven, followed by “et al.” If the number of authors is less than 10, mention all of them in the reference list

Best Practices of using Et Al.

It’s important to follow the best guidelines when using “et al.” in academic writing to make sure that your work is understandable, correct, and properly cited. My essay writer has gathered some best practices to keep in mind when using “et al.” in your writing:

1- Know your citation style’s requirements and conventions: Understanding the core needs and recommendations of the citation style you are using is essential before applying “et al.”. This will ensure that you appropriately use “et al.” in reference lists and in-text citations.

2- Use “et al.” consistently: When using “et al.”, make sure to use it consistently throughout your paper. This will help to ensure that your writing is clear and consistent.

3- Minimize the use of “et al.”: Although “et al.” is an effective academic writing tool, it’s essential to keep your usage to a limit. In some circumstances, listing all authors in full rather than using “et al.” may be more suitable.

4- Specify the primary author clearly: When using “et al.,” it’s important to do so in both the in-text citations and reference lists. This will make sure that the source is correctly acknowledged.

5- Avoid plagiarism: While using “et al.” It’s important to consider plagiarism. Even when writing with the phrase “et al.” be sure to properly credit all of your sources.

Examples of Et Al. in sentences

Here are the examples of Et Al. in a sentence

  1. Smith, Johnson, et al. wrote a research paper that discusses the effects of climate change on coral reefs.
  2. According to a study by Lee et al., the use of social media has increased significantly in the past decade.
  3. The textbook was authored by Williams, Brown, et al., and it covers a wide range of topics in chemistry.
  4. The article by Jones et al. discusses the benefits of exercise for mental health.
  5. The research team including Thompson, Garcia, et al., conducted the survey and it gathered data on consumer preferences for sustainable products.

Common misconceptions about Et Al.

Even though “et al.” is frequently used in academic writing, there are still many misunderstandings about it. Here are some of the most common misconceptions, and the truth behind them:

“Et al.” can only be used with a certain number of authors: There is no set number of authors that must be listed before using “et al.”. The decision to use “et al.” should be based on the guidelines of your citation style, and the specific context of your writing.

The use of “et al.” is restricted to reference lists only: Although “et al.” is most frequently used in reference lists, it can also be used in in-text citations. When there are three or more writers on the source, “et al.” should only be used in in-text citations.

“Et al.” should always be used in reference lists: While “et al.” is a useful tool for shortening reference lists, it is not always necessary to use it. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to list all authors in full, rather than using “et al.”.

“Et al.” can be used with any form of source, not just academic materials. “Et al.” cannot be combined with academic sources. The particular rules for using “et al.”, however, may change based on the citation style you use.


For your information to be clear, accurate, and properly cited, you must use “et al.” in the appropriate academic context. By understanding the meaning and appropriate application of “et al.” in various citation forms and sticking to its usage best practices, you can ensure that your writing complies with academic conventions and rules. Using “et al.” may also assist your work to be more understandable and make it easier for readers to browse and follow your sources. It’s important for writers of all skill levels, especially scholars, researchers, and students, to learn how to properly use “et al.”


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