How to use et al. in MLA
Published October 26, 2020. Updated May 8, 2021.
When you need to cite sources that have three or more authors or contributors, you don’t have to cite all of the contributors’ names. Instead, you can use et al.
Et al. is an abbreviation for the Latin word, et alii, which means “and others.” Using et al. shows that three or more contributors wrote, edited, or collaborated on the work, even though only one name is listed in the citation.
Using et al. in MLA
There are many places in MLA citation style where you can use et al.:
- Works with three or more writers
- Works with three or more editors
- Collections of of essays, stories, or poems with three or more contributors
When to use et al.
You can use et al. in both the in-text citation and in the Works Cited page. When using et al. you should always use the name of the writer listed first in the source material.
Note: Using et al. should not be confused with etc. or other abbreviations that indicate more content than listed. For example, etc. is an abbreviation for et cetera and is used at the end of a list to indicate that there are other similar items included in the list that are not names.
How to format et al. in MLA style
The format to write et al. is always the same: et al. Use lowercase letters with no punctuation after et and a period after al.
To format an in-text citation:
- Use the first writer’s last name. Use the first writer listed on the source material. Do not use any of the other writers’ names.
- Follow the first writer’s name with a comma
- Follow the comma with et al. Write et al. in lowercase letters. There is no punctuation after the et and there is always a period after the al.
- Other end punctuation can come after the period following al., but you must include the period because this is an abbreviation.
Example et al. citations for the following source:
- Title: “Interrogating Disciplines/Disciplinarity in WAC/WID: An Institutional Study”
- Author(s): Anne Ruggles Gere, Sarah C. Swofford, Naomi Silver and Melody Pugh.
- Source: College Composition and Communication, vol. 67, no. 2, 2015, pp. 243–266
In-text citation example:
(Gere, et al. 243)
The Works Cited page citation for that source:
Gere, Anne Ruggles, et al. “Interrogating Disciplines/Disciplinarity in WAC/WID: An Institutional Study.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 67, no. 2, 2015, pp. 243–266. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24633857.
Gere, Anne Ruggles, et al. “Interrogating Disciplines/Disciplinarity in WAC/WID: An Institutional Study.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 67, no. 2, 2015, pp. 243–266., www.jstor.org/stable/24633857. Accessed 6 Oct. 2020.
MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
Published October 25, 2020.
By Catherine Sigler. Catherine has a Ph.D. in English Education and has taught college-level writing for 15 years.
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