How to Use ‘et al.’

Using Latin abbreviations such as ‘et al.’ in your academic documents shouldn’t be a headache! Unfortunately, many students make mistakes when using Latin terms, which can lose you vital marks. In this post, we will show you how to use ‘et al.’

When to Use ‘et al.’

The term ‘et al.’ is a Latin abbreviation that stands for ‘et alias‘, meaning ‘and others’. It is used in some referencing systems to shorten in-text citations of works that have more than three of four authors. The exact rules for when this is necessary depend on the referencing system being used, so make sure to check your style guide carefully!

When you cite a work with a large number of authors, the rule is generally to give the first listed author’s name followed by ‘et al.’, along with the other information needed for the citation:

Scientists found that 90% of the Great Barrier Reef has now been destroyed (Walker et al., 2013, p. 5).

The term ‘et al.’ always needs a full stop after the ‘al’ to show that it is an abbreviated word. Although Latin words are usually italicised in academic writing, this does not apply to ‘et al.’ because it is so common. This also holds for other commonly used Latin terms.

Reference List

Whether or not you need to use ‘et al.’ in your reference list or bibliography depends on the referencing system being used. Make sure to check your style guide carefully if you’re not sure which approach is correct.



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  1. Pingback: Harvard Referencing – How to Cite a Journal Article

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