You’ve likely encountered “et al.” in academic papers and textbooks. But how should it be formatted? Should “et al.” be italicized in academic writing?
This quick and simple guide explores the correct formatting of the et al. abbreviation across different citation styles.
What Does et al. Mean?
“Et al.” is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “et alia,” which translates to “and others.” It is commonly used in academic and research settings to denote multiple authors or contributors without having to list each one, especially when referencing sources. The use of “et al.” provides a concise way to acknowledge collective contributions while keeping citations and references streamlined.
When proofreading a thesis or dissertation, it is important to remember that “et al.” is typically italicized in two main situations:
- When discussing the term itself in the context of explaining its meaning or usage, it is italicized in all major academic writing styles except Chicago to indicate its status as a foreign-derived term.
- Only the Harvard academic writing styles suggest that “et al.” is italicized when used in reference lists or in-text citations to denote multiple authors. Italicizing in these contexts helps emphasize the term’s distinctiveness and its Latin origin.
Using Italics for APA in Academic Writing
Is et al. Italicized in APA?
In APA, you only italicize “et al.” when mentioning it as a standalone term. In citations, it remains in regular font.
- No need for the use of et al. when citing one or two authors: According to Stevens & Clark (2022), several people underestimate the value of regular exercise.
- For three or more authors: (Stevens et al., 2022) or Stevens et al. (2022). Health in Modern Times. Orion Books, USA.
Read more: Guide to APA formatting
Is et al. Italicized in AP Style?
Given AP style’s prevalence in news media, “et al.” is less commonly seen. But when used, “et al.” is italicized only when standalone. In-article citations don’t necessitate italics.
- Global temperatures are expected to rise, claim Anderson et al.
Is et al. Italicized in Chicago?
Contrary to APA, Chicago style doesn’t italicize “et al.“, even as a standalone term.
- Global financial markets remain unpredictable, suggests Anderson et al.
- R. Anderson, L. Williams, and M. Thompson (2023). “Global Economy Insights.” Falcon Press, Canada.
Is et al. Italicized in MLA?
MLA’s treatment of “et al.” mirrors Chicago’s. It recommends using terms like “and others” for narrative citations instead of “et al.”
- Clean energy is deemed vital for the future (Anderson et al., 2023). As suggested by Anderson and colleagues (2023), sustainable practices are essential.
- Thompson, M., Williams, L., and Anderson, R. (2023). Emerging Energy Solutions. Falcon Press, Canada.
Read more: How to cite MLA style
Is et al. Italicized in Harvard?
In Harvard style, “et al.” should be italicized both in in-text citations and in the final reference list.
- Green technologies are the way forward, according to Anderson et al. (2023). Green energy sources are invaluable, says Anderson, R., et al. (2023). Clean Energy Pathways. Falcon Press, Canada.
Italicizing et al. in Academic Writing: A Summary
|Style||Is et al. italicized?||Example|
|For two authors: “Taylor & Miller (2025) discuss digital health advancements.”
For three or more: (Taylor et al., 2025) or Taylor et al. (2025). “Tech in Health.” MedBooks, USA.
In-article citations: No
|“Emerging tech trends were analyzed by Peterson et al.“|
|“Space exploration’s future looks promising, according to Peterson et al.”
A. Peterson, B. Clark, & C. Davis (2025). “Stellar Journeys.” Galaxy Press, USA.
|Revolutionizing space travel is the key (Peterson et al., 2025).
According to Peterson and team (2025).
Clark, B., Davis, C., & Peterson, A. (2025). “Beyond Earth.” Galaxy Press, USA.
|Deep space missions are essential, as highlighted by Peterson et al. (2025).
Peterson, A., et al. (2025). “Interstellar Adventures.” Lunar Publishing, UK.
“Et al.” is a staple in academic writing to represent multiple authors. When discussing the term itself, both APA and Harvard styles recommend italicizing “et al.”. For citations, however, only Harvard maintains this emphasis.