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Video Transcripts

APA Formatting & Style: Shortening Citations With et al.

Last updated 5/6/2020

Video Length: 1:47

Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Using & Crediting Sources” and the video title “Shortening Citations With et al.”

Audio: Guitar music


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Shortening Citations With et al.

  • Used to make citations concise
  • Smith et al. (2019)…
  • (Smith et al., 2019)
  • 1-2 authors: Never
  • 3 or more authors: Always

Audio: APA provides guidance for writers to shorten their citations using the abbreviation “et al.” Et al. is a Latin abbreviation that means “and others,” and so it’s used in APA to limit the number of authors writers need to list within their citations, making citations more concise. Note in particular that when we talk about using et al., we are only talking about citations; et al. is not used in the reference list.

The way we use et al. is by listing the first author of a source, followed directly by “et al.” in regular case. Note the punctuation here, with a period after “a-l”. For narrative citations, the publication year immediately follows; for a parenthetical citation, there’s a comma and the publication year.

APA directs writers to only use et al. when sources have three or more authors. When a source has one or two authors, never use et al. However, for all citations with three or more authors, shorten those citations using et al.


Visual: The following examples are added to the screen:

  • Authors: Kimberly Wiley, Elizabeth A. M. Searing, and Sarah Young (2020)
  • Wiley et al. (2020)  (Wiley et al., 2020)

Audio: Let’s look at an example. In this example, we have three authors: Kimberly Wiley, Elizabeth A.M. Searing, and Sarah Young. Whenever I create a citation for this source, I would always shorten it to Wiley et al., as shown here in these narrative and parenthetical citation examples.

And that’s it! Now you know how to shorten your citations using “et al.”


Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address appears on the screen.