Meaning of Et Al in Academic Writing and How to Use it?

Learning phrases from a foreign language can often be exciting and boost your confidence. Yet some phrases can evoke annoyance. For many students, one such phrase is “et al.” Similarly, students get confused on how to use et al in a research paper and use it effectively.

But you can stop worrying now because this post aims to show you that this phrase is not intimidating. It can be quite helpful academically.

 By the end of this article, you will feel more assured about the meaning of “et al.,” how to use it in different styles of research paper writing, and much more.

What is “et al.”? 

Et al. is an abbreviated form of the Latin phrase “et alia”, which loosely translates to “and others” in English. Many students are familiar with this term because it’s commonly used for citing a paper written by multiple authors in your academic research. Let’s look at et al example that’ll explain it better. This example will explain how do you write et al by visual representation.

For instance: 

  • Kazbar Ekker, Z., et al. (2021). Exploring the Impact of Abortion Legalization on Women’s Health. Journal of Women’s Health, 8(2), 112-128.

Why Use et al. in Academic Writing?

Organizing a research paper is a time-taking process with plenty of elements that contribute to it. Et al. play a big role in maintaining preciseness and structure in your article.

It helps provide all the needed information without overwhelming it, as lengthy citations can cause confusion for the reader. This is why the use of et al. in academic writing has been widely adopted. Et al meaning in research simply implies that a given research / investigation/ experiment is not completed all by a single person or a researcher. It’s rather a work of a or many group(s).

Examples of et al in different formats of writing. 

  • APA Style:
    • Smith, J., Wali Khan, A., et al. (2022). The Effects of Climate Change. Journal of Environmental Science, 10(3), 45-60.
  • MLA Style:
    • Anderson, M., et al. “The Impact of Social Media on Society.” Journal of Communication Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, 2021, pp. 78-95.
  • Chicago Style:
    • Brown, R., et al. “Exploring Cultural Diversity in Urban Communities.” Urban Studies Quarterly, 39(4), 2008, pp. 567-582.
  • IEEE Style:
    • Johnson, L., et al. “Advancements in Wireless Communication Systems.” IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 17, no. 6, 2019, pp. 3289-3301.
  • Harvard Style:
    • Davis, K., et al. (2020) “Innovations in Renewable Energy Sources.” International Journal of Sustainable Energy, 43(2), pp. 145-160.

All the citation styles have slightly varying rules regarding the use of et al. Exploring these styles will help you understand how different writing styles can benefit from using et al.

Using et al. in Chicago Format

Chicago Style has a similar way to use et al. in its two citation systems: bibliography and notes and author- date styles. 

  • In-text citations; (whether author-date or footnotes) sources with one to three authors, names of all the authors will be listed.
  • Sourcing four or more authors, use the first name followed by “et al.” 
  • You can reference up to 10 authors within the referencing list or bibliography. 

Et al Examples:

  • Book with multiple authors:
    • Smith, John, et al. The History of Modern Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
  • Journal article with multiple authors:
    • Johnson, Mary, et al. “The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity.” Environmental Science Journal 25, no. 3 (2022): 45-60.
  • Edited book with multiple editors:
    • Brown, Robert, et al., eds. Perspectives on Globalization. New York: Routledge, 2018.
  • Book chapter with multiple authors:
    • Davis, Sarah, et al. “The Role of Technology in Education.” In Advancements in Educational Technology, edited by Johnson, Michael, et al., 67-82. Boston: Academic Press, 2020.
  • Website with multiple authors:
    • “The Benefits of Exercise.” National Health Organization. Accessed April 15, 2023.

Using et al in MLA Style of Writing a Research

The use of et al. in MLA implies when three or more writers are involved in research. This is applicable for both MLA in-text citations and cited work bibliography lists. 

Et al. is not used in the narrative citation in MLA format (where the names of the author are part of the main sentence and not used in parentheses) 


  • 1-3 authors 
    • In-text citation examples: (Abdul and David) 
    • Works cited examples: Abdul, Khan and David Burchees. 
  • 3+ authors
    • In text citation examples: (Jackson et al.) 
    • Works cited examples: Simone, Jackson, et al.

Et al. Meaning and Use: APA style

The APA format has various versions (6th and 7th), so the rules of using et al. slightly change. Let’s discuss both of these editions. 

Rules of Using et al. for APA 7th Edition 

  • Citing in-text with a source with two authors, you must list both of them.
  • However, if there are three writers, you will only cite the first author with the et al. 
  • APA doesn’t require et al. for the reference list. It has the capacity to list up to 20 authors for one source.


1-2 authors: 

In-text Citation: (Zoha Alam & Iffat Nadeem, 2023) 

3+ authors: 

In text Citation: (Kennedy et al., 2014)

Rule for Using et al. for APA 6th Edition

  • Sources with up to 5 authors require using all names within the first citation. However, if you must repeat citing this course, use et al. after the first writer’s last name.
  • A source with six or more writers should use et al. from the very first citation in the paper

The Don’ts: Et al Meaning and Use

In many cases, students can repeatedly commit the same mistakes, which leads to lower grades. Oftentimes these mistakes are overlooked and never properly addressed by the professors. So, we have given a list of “don’t” that you must avoid. 

  • Misspelling “et al.” as “et al” or “et. al.”
  • Incorrectly capitalizing “et al.” as “Et Al.” or “ET AL.”
  • Not including a period after “al.” (e.g., “et al.” instead of “et al.”). Punctuation is one of the key mistakes many students commit. There is a period right after the “al” to indicate that the term is an abbreviation. Here are some of the frequent mistakes people commit

et al. 

et al. 

et al.

et al.

  • You only need one period if you use et al. at the end of your sentence. 
  • Whenever “et al.” follows a list of two or more names, a serial comma appears before it. There shouldn’t be a comma when only one name precedes it.
  • Using “et al.” for a single author or when there are only two authors.
  • Failing to provide the full list of authors on the first mention before using “et al.” in subsequent citations.
  • Using “et al.” in both in-text citations and the reference list.
  • Not italicizing “et al.” when it appears in the text or incorrectly italicizing it in the reference list.
  • Using “et al.” when citing a specific source portion, such as a particular chapter or section.
  • Not consistently using “et al.” throughout the document for the same authors.
  • Failing to verify the correct usage of “et al.” in the specific citation style required by their institution or professor.
  • Avoid using singular verbs after the et al. This is because the meaning of et al. is “all others”. For instance: Zoe H et al. (2023) mention that…
  • Using “et al.” without providing the year or publication details in the citation.
  • Including the abbreviation “et al.” in the reference list instead of listing all authors.
  • Never confuse et al. with etc. 
  • Using “et al.” in the wrong place within the citation (e.g., before the title instead of after the authors’ names).
  • Using “et al.” with personal communications or unpublished works.

Et al Meaning and Use: How to Use “et al.” in Title? 

There are no separate rules for using et al. in the title. If you follow a specific citation style (i.e., APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago), be mindful of its requirements for using et al. 

However, it is always wise to consider your prompt for the paper or contact your supervisor in case of any special requirements. 

When using “et al.” in a title, it is typically employed to reference multiple authors or contributors of a work. Here are six examples that demonstrate the usage:

  • “The Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystems: A Review by Smith et al.”
  • “A Comparative Study of Solar Energy Technologies: Insights from Johnson et al.”
  • “Effects of Online Research Paper Writing Service Platforms: An In-depth Analysis from Hussian et al.”
  • “The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Perspectives from Kim et al.”
  • “Exploring Genetic Variations in Human Populations: Findings from Garcia et al.”
  • “Advancements in Nanotechnology: A Survey of Recent Research by Patel et al.”
  • “Understanding Consumer Behavior in Online Retail: Insights from Jones et al.”
  • In each example, “et al.” (short for “et alia,” meaning “and others” in Latin) is used after the first author’s name to indicate that there are additional contributors to the work.


We are sure this post helped lift the cloud of confusion gathered around the et al. meaning and use. However, good use of et al in paper. can enhance your perspective. You can reach our professionals for their college paper writing service.

Explore More

Related Blogs

24 hr support
24/7 Support

Connections with Writers and support

safe service
Safe Service

Privacy and Confidentiality Guarantee


Average Quality Score