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How to Use the Term ‘Et Al.’

How to Use the Term ‘Et Al.’

When citing books in the body of your academic writing, you can use the term ‘et al.’ to indicate ‘and others’. This is to avoid having to write down all of a book’s authors each time you mention it. The term ‘et al.’ stands for ‘et alia‘, which is Latin for ‘and others’.

The conventions for citing a source differ a little depending on the system you’re using, but for the sake of demonstrating how ‘et al.’ works, we’ll use a generic parenthetical referencing style.

If the book you want to cite has one author, you should cite it like this: (Author One, YEAR).

If the book has two authors, like this: (Author One and Author Two, YEAR).

If the book has many authors (usually more than three or four), ‘et al.’ may be required. In Harvard referencing, you should give all author names the first time you cite the source: (Author One, Author Two, and Author Three, YEAR). For subsequent citations, simply cite the first listed author and ‘et al.’: (Author One et al., YEAR).

You DO NOT put a full stop after ‘et’, but you MUST put a full stop after ‘al.’

For example: (Davis et al., 2007)

Finally, DO NOT italicise et al. Indeed, you DO NOT usually have to  italicise any commonly used Latin words or abbreviations (ibid., i.e., etc.).

Of course, if you are not sure about any aspect of citation, referencing or academic writing, the best solution is to get your work professionally checked.

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