Answered By: Rachel Willard
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2016     Views: 2095

There are two different situations in which you should use et al.:

  • When the source you are citing has three, four, or five authors. In this case, type out each author’s name the first time you cite the source. Each subsequent time you cite that source, you will abbreviate to just the first surname followed by “et al.”
    • Example: The first citation of a source by Rasmussen, Hopkins, and Fitzpatrick should look like this: Research plays a vital role in development planning (Rasmussen, Hopkins, & Fitzpatrick, 2004).
    • Each subsequent time you cite this source, the citation should look like this: Rasmussen et al. (2004) emphasized the vital role research plays in development planning.


  • When the source you are citing has six or more authors. In this case, only cite the first author's surname followed by et al. each time you cite the source.
    • Example: Each citation of a source by Allard, Goldblatt, Kemball, Kendrick, Millen, and Smith should look like this: School districts have used communities of practice to encourage reflection in planning committees (Allard et al., 2007).


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