Et Al. | Meaning & Use in MLA, APA, & Chicago

Citation updated on  March 22, 2024 5 min read

Et al.” is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “et alia,” meaning “and others.” It’s commonly used in academic writing when citing a source with multiple authors.

Examples: Et al. in a sentence
Pirreno et al. (2024) proposed the first framework for…
Past studies have supported the relationship between sugar consumption and cavities (Tsoklat et al., 2024).

How “et al.” is used depends on the style guide you are following. Three of the most common style guides, MLA, APA, and Chicago, each have slightly different rules regarding how to use “et al.”

Et al. in MLA style

In MLA style, “et al.” is used when a source has three or more authors. “Et al.” is used both for in-text citations as well as the Works Cited list, meaning that only the first author’s name is listed in the citation in both places.

Et al. in MLA style

Number of authors

Parenthetical example

Works Cited example

1–2 authors (Rose and Thorn 400)... Rose, Ted, and Paola Thorn. …
3+ authors (Willow et al. 16)... Willow, Winifred, et al. …

In citations that are included within the sentence rather than in parentheses (narrative citations), MLA style does not permit the use of “et al.” Instead, alternative expressions like “and colleagues” should be used.

Examples: Et al. in MLA narrative citations
Willow et al. argue that…
Willow and colleagues argue that…

Et al. in APA Style

The rules for using “et al.” in APA Style depend on which edition of the style guide you are using.

APA 6th edition rules for et al.

In APA 6th edition citations, when to use “et al.” depends on the number of authors.

If a source has only two authors, both authors’ names are used for citations throughout the text.

When a source has three to five authors, each author’s last name should be listed the first time the source is cited; after this, “et al.” can be used with the first author’s name only.

If a source has more than five authors, the first author’s name followed by “et al.” can be used starting with the first citation.

Et al. in APA 6th edition

Number of authors

First citation

Subsequent citations

1–2 authors (Opple & Opall, 2024) (Opple & Opall, 2024)
3–5 authors (Pergle, Ritter, Thoms, & Wink, 2024) (Pergle et al., 2024)
6+ authors (Crit et al., 2024) (Crit et al., 2024)

APA 7th edition rules for et al.

In contrast to 6th edition APA rules, in APA 7th edition, any source with three or more authors is shortened with “et al.” starting from the first citation. If a source only has two authors, then both authors’ names are included in all citations.

Et al. in APA 7th edition

Number of authors

Parenthetical citation

1 or 2 authors

(Perez & Wu, 2024)

3+ authors

(Kim et al., 2024)

Neither APA 6th edition nor APA 7th edition use “et al.” in the Reference List.

Et al. in Chicago style

Chicago style allows for the choice between author-date style citations or notes-bibliography. In either case, the use of “et al.” remains the same.

For sources with one to three authors, all three authors’ names should be listed in all citations.

For sources with four or more authors, “et al.” can be used after the first author’s name starting from the first citation.

Number of authors

Author-date example

Footnote example

1–3 authors (Mashimoto, Real, and Carpi 2024) 1. Tatsune Mashimoto, Jorge Real, and Roberto Carpi, …
4+ authors (Patel et al. 2024) 2. Darun Patel et al., …

For the reference list or bibliography, works with up to 10 authors include all authors’ names. If a source has over 10 authors, the first seven authors’ names should be listed followed by “et al.”

Common mistakes

“Et al.” can sometimes be tricky to use correctly.

Singular vs plural

“Et al.” is used in place of multiple people, so it constitutes a plural subject when used with a verb.

Example: Et al. verb agreement
Nikkei et al. claims that…
Nikkei et al. claim that…

Punctuation

Because et al. is an abbreviation, it must always be followed by a period. If you are using “et al.” with a comma, the period is still necessary. If “et al.” comes at the end of the sentence, there is no need to add another period.

Examples: Et al. punctuation
et al
etal
et. al.
et, al
et al,
et al.
et al.,

If “et al.” is preceded by a list of names (e.g., in a references list), a comma should be used between the final name in the list and “et al.” When there is just one name listed with “et al.,” no comma is used.

Example: Et al. in a list of names
…Velasquez, Gyatso, et al., …

Et al. vs etc.

“Et al.” is used when omitting the names of people in a sentence.

In contrast, “etc.,” short for “et cetera” (“and the rest” in Latin), is used when omitting things or inanimate objects.

Examples: Et al. and etc. in sentences
Yuca et al. (2024) contend that pumpkin will replace meat by 2072.
I generally eat a lot of vegetables, especially pumpkin, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.


Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Idioms

Parts of speech

Fallacies

Diamond in the rough

Irregular verb

Slippery slope fallacy

Idioms

Gerund

Sunk cost fallacy

Piece of cake

Infinitive phrase

Red herring fallacy

Better late than never

Infinitive

Appeal to authority fallacy

Salt of the earth

Adverb

Circular reasoning fallacy


Frequently asked questions about et al.

When should I use et al. in citations?

How you use “et al.” in citations depends on the style guide you are using.

In MLA, “et al.” is used both for in-text citations and the Works Cited page when a source has three or more authors.

In APA 6th edition, works with three to five authors are listed using “et al.” after the first citation. In APA 7th edition, works with three or more authors are listed using “et al.” from the first citation.

In Chicago style, works with four or more authors are listed using “et al.” from the first citation.

When should I use et al. in APA in-text citations?

In APA 6th edition, works with three to five authors are listed using “et al.” after the first citation. 

Example: “Freeman, Taylor, and Werg (2024) reject this hypothesis. Instead, their data indicates that the opposite is true (Freeman et al., 2024).”

In APA 7th edition, works with three or more authors are listed using “et al.” after the first author’s name from the first citation.

Example: “Freeman et al. (2024) reject this hypothesis.”

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in MLA?

In MLA, “et al.” is used both for in-text citations and the Works Cited page when a source has three or more authors.

Example: “Ruiz et al. propose that…”

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in Chicago?

In Chicago style, works with four or more authors are listed using “et al.” after the first author’s name from the first citation.

Example: “Bhinda et al. (2024) note that…”

Tags

Alexandra Rongione

Alexandra has a master’s degree in literature and cultural studies. She has taught English as a foreign language for a range of levels and ages and has also worked as a literacy tutor.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.