Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comma + et al in running text?

Someone wrote to ask about the comma used with et al in reference citations.

Haji SA, Ulusoy RE, Patel DA, et al. Am J Cardiol. 2006;98(9):1234-1237.

"Suppose the author name and et al are used in running text," she writes. "In that case, is the comma also used? If so, is it used before or after the et al, or is it used on both sides?"

Answer: The comma is not used in running text:

Haji et al found that childhood obesity is predictive of LV dilatation in young adults.


Kamil said...

et al should be et al.

stephen wilkins said...

Yes, you're right, Kamil, and thanks for the comment!

In AMA reference citations a period is used with "et al."

But in running text, "et al" appears with neither a period nor a comma, as in the following example taken from p45 in the 10th edition:

Doe et al reported on the survey.

Eugene M. said...

A period is needed after al in running text, because al is an abbreviation. This is similar to "etc." See:

I would write "Doe et al. reported on the survey."

wilkins said...

Thanks, Eugene.

Some styles do use periods with abbreviations like 'et al' in running text (per the example I've provided).

AMA style, however, does not. No periods or commas with 'et al' in running text.

In fact, as a general rule, AMA style abandons the use of periods with abbreviations.

Rocky, said...

Stephen is correct about no periods in running text, and thanks for the good discussion here. I usually edit in APA or Chicago, so omitting the period looked strange to me at first, but that does appear to be the AMA guideline!