There is a long list of Latin abbreviations that are widely used in academic papers. As a student, you need to know particular usage patterns of each to employ them correctly when presenting the findings of your research. We will help you to understand the meaning of one of them, namely “et al.” Let’s discuss how to use and punctuate it correctly in different citation styles to ensure excellent exam results.
So, what is “et al.”? “Et al.” meaning originates from Latin “et alia,” which stands for “and others.” It is mostly used in formal papers when researchers refer to multiple authors, editors, or other creators of a certain work.
You can use “et al.” in formal-style academic works to declutter your writing from lengthy lists of authors. For example, some peer-reviewed articles may have even more than 20 authors. To list all of them in your essay will take another paragraph, but your teacher has probably set word count limits you cannot exceed. Besides, the text itself will become difficult for your readers to perceive as long in-text citations interrupt the flow of reading. So, scholars have come up with the idea to limit in-text citations and footnotes to a short signal phrase with the abbreviation “et al.” It aims to help the reader to locate the work. Most citation styles suggest such a format of in-text citations. Besides, some of them, such as MLA, require the use of “et al.” even in reference lists. When can you use “et al.”? The application of this abbreviation in citations is rather diverse. It can appear in:
Generally, “et al.” is used when you need to cite a work with a large list of authors, usually three and more. You can simply write the name of the first author and substitute the other people who worked on the cited piece with “et al.” However, if you have three authors and you have already named two of them, you cannot write “et al.” to refer to the third one as this abbreviation is plural. Each referencing manual, however, has its own peculiarities of the “et al.” usage. We will discuss them below.
As we define “et al.” as Latin “et alia,” there is only one possible way to punctuate it in writing. Use a period after “al” to indicate that it is an abbreviation from “alia.”
Yet, you can use other punctuation marks after “et al.” when it is appropriate. It may include instances when you place it in the middle of a sentence or an APA in-text citation. For example:
When you use “et al.” at the end of a sentence, you do not need to add another period:
Formal academic writing requires accuracy in detail. To use Latin abbreviations, you need to learn the peculiarities of their usage. It will help you to pass an exam and show your professor that you are competent in his or her subject. Some people confuse “et al.” with “etc.” in certain contexts. As you can see from the “et al.” definition, which is “and others,” it can be used only in relation to people. In contrast, “et cetera” or “etc.” works for objects and phenomena because it can be literally translated as “and other similar things.” To illustrate:
To show how to use “et al.” in college papers, we will take a close look at several simple examples of in-text citations in different styles. Let’s start with an APA citation with “et al.” in a sentence:
According to Sides et al. (2019), it is a result of the connection of partisanship and identities tied to religion and nationality (p. 13).
In this example, you can see that we acknowledge the work of two other authors, Tesler and Vavreck, using the Latin abbreviation.
The following “et al.” example can be used in a parenthetical citation:
(Sides et al., 2019, p. 13)
The citation of the same book in MLA style will have a slightly different format, but it will still include “et al.”:
According to Sides et al., the first trend is empowering partisanship (13).
When in APA style, we list all the authors in the reference list, MLA style requires the use of “et al.”:
Sides, John, et al. Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America. Princeton University Press, 2019.
Now let’s discuss how to use “et al.,” formatting your paper according to the latest edition of APA style. This referencing manual of style requires you to use “et al.” when you cite more than two authors or editors in the text of your work. Such in-text citations, either narrative or parenthetical, should include the first author and refer to the other creators with “et al.” following the first name. Remember that this abbreviation is plural. So, you should apply it only when you need to substitute two or more names. For example, let’s say you need to cite an article with four authors:
Malizia, E., Feser, E. J., Renski, H., & Drucker, J. (2020).
The in-text citation for this source will look in the following way:
(Malizia et al., 2020)
Pay attention that no punctuation marks are required between the name of the scholar and “et al.”
However, if there are several authors with the same last names or multiple works by the same author, you need to list several authors to avoid confusion. For instance, let’s imagine that you want to cite two different articles with such lists of authors in your analytical essay:
McLean, K. C., Fordham, C., Boggs, S., Byers, S., Haraldsson, K., Lowe, A., & Syed, M. (2019).
McLean, K. C., Syed, M., Haraldsson, K., & Lowe, A. (2019).
Both these articles were published in 2019. Thus, you cannot list only the first surname as APA in-text citations for the two sources will be identical. In such cases, mention two or more authors. Use a comma to separate the names and “et al.” For example:
(McLean, Fordham, et al., 2019)
(McLean, Syed, et al., 2019)
Note that “et al.” can be used only in those cases when you need to show that there are several authors. Therefore, the article with only three authors will list all of them in case you have multiple works by the same author. An APA in-text citation will include the third author’s name instead of “et al.” :
McLean, K. C., Köber, C., & Haraldsson, K. G. (2019).
(McLean, Köber, & Haraldsson, 2019)
The “et al.” usage is not recommended in the list of references according to APA style. Instead, write all authors’ names. When you have more than 20 authors, place “...” after the 19th name and include the name of the final author.
Some teachers and professors have not moved to the latest edition of APA style yet. For this reason, we will give you some tips on how to use “et al.” in a narrative, expository, persuasive, and any other type of essay according to the 6th edition of APA. The main difference between these two versions is that if you have from three to five authors, you need to list them all in the first in-text citation. However, in all subsequent citations, you should mention only one scholar that is listed first in the original author list of the cited work. “Et al.” should follow that name. To illustrate:
First in-text citation: (Kremer, Rao, & Schilbach, 2019)
Subsequent citations: (Kremer et al., 2019)
However, if the cited work has a large list of authors (six and more), apply “et al.” in all in-text citations, even in the one that appears first:
(Oldekop et al., 2020)
Using “et al.” as “and others” is a common trend in MLA style as well. How to use “et al.” for references? If you cite a book, article, or any other work that is created by three authors or more, write “et al.” after the last and first name of the scholar who comes at the beginning of the list of authors. For example:
Schultz, Majken, et al. Constructing Identity in and Around Organizations. Oxford University Press, 2012.
An MLA in-text citation has the same format. You need to list only the first author and substitute other scholars with “et al.” to save space:
(Schultz et al. 23)
Do not use any additional punctuation to separate “et al.” or a page number.
In Chicago or Turabian style, you should mention all the authors if you have from one to three authors. However, footnotes and endnotes for sources that have from four to ten authors require “et al.” after the name of the first author. Your bibliography should list all the authors without the discussed scholarly abbreviation.
Diana Mason et al., eds., Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care, 8th ed. (St. Louis, MO: Elsevier, 2020), 198.
Mason et al., Policy & Politics, 199.
Mason, Diana, Elizabeth Dickson, Adrianna Perez, and Monica McLemore, eds. Policy & Politics in Nursing and Health Care. 8th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier, 2020.
Yet, if the number of authors is much longer and exceeds ten, include only the first seven writers in the bibliographic entry and replace the others with “et al.” For example:
Lawlor, Brian, Sean Kennelly, Sarah O’Dwyer, Fiona Cregg, Cathal Walsh, Robert Coen, Rose Anne Kenny, et al., “NILVAD Protocol: A European Multicentre Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Nilvadipine in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease,” BMJ Open 4, 10 (2014): e006364.
“Et al.” can be an abbreviation of several phrases. We have already described its widely used meaning “and others,” which appears in Latin in its three gender variations: masculine, feminine, and neutral. As you can deduce, the three phrases are plural. Yet, this is not the only Latin phrase that can be represented with “et al.” in writing. There is another expression — “et alibi.”
“Et alibi” is not as widely used as “et alia,” but you can still find it in certain contexts. This phrase is not so hard to remember. We all know what an alibi is. You must have heard it numerous times in detective movies. It is proof that a suspect could not have committed a particular crime because he or she has been elsewhere at the moment of its occurrence. The key word here is “elsewhere.” “Et alibi” has a straightforward meaning, which is “and elsewhere.” It is usually applied to show that there are other occurrences of the cited information in a certain text in addition to the mentioned page or passage.
Now you know how to give credit to a long list of authors without naming all of them and making your writing confusing. You can use “et al.” in the text of your paper as well as in foot- and endnotes. It is also applicable in reference lists formatted according to MLA and Chicago styles. “Et al.,” as any other Latin abbreviation, has its meaning and corresponding usage. You should learn them before incorporating poorly familiar terms in your writing, as awkward wording can affect your mark.
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Monday, May 18, 2020