How to Use ‘‘et al.’’ in APA Style (7th Edition)

The term ‘‘et al.’’ is the abbreviated form of the Latin term ‘‘et alia,’’ which means ‘‘and others.’’ It is used in academic in-text citations when referring to a source with multiple authors. In APA style, for a source with three or more authors, list the first author’s last name and “et al.” for all citations, including the first citation.

28.11.2020

How to Use ‘‘et al.’’ in APA Style (7th Edition)

This handout discusses how and when to use et al. in APA style (7th edition). To give you an opportunity to practice your proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

The Term ‘‘et al.’’ is the Abbreviation of Latin Term ‘‘et elia,’’ Meaning ‘‘and others’’

The term ‘‘et al.’’ is the abbreviated form of the Latin term ‘‘et alia,’’ which means ‘‘and others.’’ It is used in academic in-text citations when referring to a source with multiple authors. In APA style, for a source with three or more authors, list the first author’s last name and “et al.” for all citations, including the first citation. Note that this rule has changed from APA 6th edition guidelines on using ‘‘et al.’’ which recommend listing all author names in the first citation up to five authors but then using ‘‘et al.’’ for the second and subsequent citations.

In October 2019, the American Psychological Association (APA) introduced the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual, which replaces the 6th edition. The in-intext citation for works with three or more authors is now abbreviated right from the first citation. You only include the first author’s name and “et al.”

(Parker, Robin, & Williams, 2018)

(Incorrect)

(Parker et al., 2018)

(Correct)

(Alison, Brier, Levy, & Wan, 2019)

(Incorrect)

(Alison et al., 2019)

(Correct)

For two authors: Always cite both authors' names in-text everytime you reference them.

(Wan et al., 2020)

(Incorrect)

(Wan & Lawrence, 2020)               

(Correct)

Here is how this would look for a source authored by Parker, Robin, and Williams published in 2018.

  • (Parker et al., 2018)

            or

  • Parker et al. (2018) claimed that…

Note that there will be no comma between the surname and ‘‘et al.’’ but a comma should be placed before the date in parentheses citation.  Also, the period goes only after the ‘‘al.’’    even when it falls in the middle of a sentence.

Use ‘‘et al.’’ in APA Style (7th Edition)

The Correct Use of ‘‘et al.’’

Authors make several mistakes when using ‘‘et al.’’ in academic writings. The “al” in “et al.” is always followed by a period because the period shows that it is the abbreviated form of the term ‘‘et alia.’’

Thus, the following forms are not correct: ‘‘et al’’, ‘‘et. al’’, ‘‘et. al.’’

The proper use of the abbreviation is ‘‘et al.’’

‘‘et al’’, ‘‘et. al’’, ‘‘et. al.’’

(Incorrect)

(Parker et al 2018)

(Incorrect)

(Parker et. al. 2018)

(Incorrect)

(Parker et. al 2018)

(Incorrect)

(Parker et al., 2018)

(Correct)

Parker et al. argued that (2018) ...

(Correct)

(Alison et al., 2019)

(Correct)

(Alison, Brier, Levy, & Wan, 2019)

(Three or more authors)

(Incorrect)

(Wan & Lawrence, 2020)

(Correct)

(Wan et al., 2020)

(Two authors)

(Incorrect)

Also, “et al.” can be directly followed by another punctuation where necessary. However, the period always comes first:

  • (Parker et al., 2018).

When “et al.” is used right at the end of a sentence, only one period is used:

  • ... by Parker et al. (2018).

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‘‘et al.’’ in APA Style (7th Edition)

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‘‘et al.’’ in APA Style (7th Edition)

For more information about the citation styles and APA style, read the following articles: 

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