How to Say “Et Al”: Formal and Informal Ways, Tips, and Examples

When it comes to citing multiple authors or sources, “et al” is a commonly used abbreviation. Derived from Latin, “et al” stands for “et alii” or “et aliae” (masculine and feminine forms, respectively), which means “and others.” This abbreviation is widely recognized, especially in academic writing, and serves as a handy way to reference a group of authors without listing all their names. In this guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways of saying “et al,” providing valuable tips and examples along the way.

Formal Ways to Say “Et Al”

In formal contexts like academic papers, articles, and professional reports, using “et al” is widely accepted and expected. Here are a few formal ways to express this abbreviation:

  1. Et al.: The most common and straightforward way to say “et al” is by using the abbreviation itself. For example: “Smith et al. conducted a study on climate change.”
  2. “Et al.” in parentheses: Another way to use “et al” formally is by putting it in parentheses right after the name of the first author. It looks like this: “According to Smith (2019) et al., the findings suggest…”
  3. “And colleagues”: While “et al” is the standard choice, you can also choose to use “and colleagues” to convey the same meaning. For instance: “According to Smith and colleagues, the results indicate…”

Informal Ways to Say “Et Al”

Outside of formal writing, you may come across situations where a less formal approach is more appropriate. Here are a few informal ways to say “et al”:

  1. “And others”: In casual conversations or less formal writing, you can often replace “et al” with “and others.” For example: “The study by Smith and others concluded that…”
  2. “And co.”: Another informal option is to abbreviate “et al” as “and co.” This abbreviation is more commonly used in spoken language or informal written pieces. For instance: “According to the research conducted by Smith and co., the results were inconclusive.”
  3. “And the team”: When focusing on a group effort, an alternative way to express “et al” informally is by referring to “and the team” after mentioning the primary author. For instance: “As Smith led the research, the discoveries made by him and the team are groundbreaking.”

Tips for Using “Et Al” Correctly

To ensure you use “et al” effectively and appropriately, consider the following tips:

  • Know the style guide: Different academic fields may have specific guidelines regarding citations, including the use of “et al.” Familiarize yourself with the appropriate style guide (e.g., APA, MLA) to ensure compliance with their rules.
  • Use it when there are three or more authors: “Et al” is typically used when there are three or more authors. If there are only two authors, their names should be mentioned.
  • Include the year and other necessary details: When using “et al” in citations, remember to include the year of publication and other essential information, such as the title of the work and the journal or book it appears in.
  • Use it consistently: Once you choose to use “et al” to reference a group of authors in your work, employ it consistently throughout. This ensures clarity and avoids confusion.


Let’s take a look at some examples to further illustrate the correct usage of “et al” in formal and informal contexts:

In a formal context:

“According to Brown et al. (2020), the experiment yielded promising results.”

“The study by Anderson (2018) et al. supports the hypothesis proposed.”

“Smith and colleagues (2021) concluded that there is a significant correlation between the variables.”

In an informal context:

“Johnson and others reported that the population growth rate has been steadily increasing.”

“According to the research conducted by Martinez and co., the findings are surprising.”

“As Harrison led the project, the valuable contributions made by him and the team cannot be overstated.”

Remember, the choice of whether to use the formal or informal approach for “et al” depends on the context and level of formality desired. Adapt your usage accordingly to maintain the appropriate tone.

In summary, “et al” is an invaluable abbreviation for referencing multiple authors or sources. In formal contexts, opt for “et al” or variations like “and colleagues” when appropriate. In more casual situations, feel free to use alternatives like “and others” or “and co.” Just remember to comply with any style guides and use “et al” consistently throughout your work. With these tips and examples, you’ll be confident in mastering the correct usage of “et al” in your writing.

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