What Does “Et Al” Mean?
Et al. is a latin phrase meaning “and others.” It follows a list of authors names, often used in educational references. For example, Smith, Jones, Carpenter, et al. or Brown, et al.
The easiest way to remember et al. is to compare it to etc. Etc. follows a list of things to imply there are more, et al. follows a list of people to imply there are more. Some books or reference materials will have a large number of contributors, so et al. is used to let readers know there were multiple contributors without having to fit all of the names on the cover. The list of contributors will be listed elsewhere in the book.
How to Use Et Al
Et al. must always have a period after it because it is an abbreviation. It will go at the end of a shortened list of names to indicate there were more contributors.
The exact details of how to cite works using et al. will depend on the type of citation you are using. In most cases, you will only use et al. if there are more than 3 contributors. You will name the first author and then use et al. Often, if there are only 3 authors, then you will name all of the authors the first time you reference the work and then use et al. for all other references to the same work.