If I cite sources with the same lead author but different coauthors, do I use et al.?

Yes. In MLA style, when a work has more than two authors or editors, the works-cited-list entry provides the name of the lead author or editor and et al. 

For example, if you are citing the following work—in which Sandy Taylor is the lead author and John Smith and Wendy Johnson are listed as the coauthors—your entry would appear thus:

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Collaboration in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Collaborative Writing, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 15-25.

If this same set of authors also wrote another article that you cite, and their names appear in the work in the same order as they do in the first article, three hyphens are used to indicate this fact to your reader:

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Collaboration in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Collaborative Writing, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 15-25.

---. “Writing Together.” Studies in Joint Scholarship, vol. 10, no. 2, 2017, pp. 75-85.

But if the works-cited list contains works by the same lead author and different coauthors (as in the first two entries below) or works by the same set of coauthors in a different order (as in the first and third entries below), the names cannot be replaced with three hyphens in listings after the first since the authorship is different or differently configured. Each entry must list the lead author’s name and et al.:

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Collaboration in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Collaborative Writing, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 15-25.

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Cowriting Papers.” Sharing Ideas, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017,  pp. 26-35.

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Groups at Work.” Crowdsourcing Studies, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 36-45.

Parenthetical Citations

In parenthetical citations, distinguish the entries by including a short form of the title after “Taylor et al.”:

(Taylor et al., “Collaboration”)

(Taylor et al., “Cowriting”)

(Taylor et al., “Groups”)

(Taylor et al., “Writing”)

Author Names in a Signal Phrase in Your Prose

If you refer to the collaborators in your prose rather than in a parenthetical citation, you may list all the names or provide the name of the first collaborator followed by “and others” or “and colleagues,” but you must also mention the title of the work in your prose or in a parenthetical citation so that your reader will know which source in the works-cited list you are discussing. 

Although the repetition of “Taylor et al.” in the works-cited-list entries above indicates that the authorship of the essays is not exactly the same, mentioning the coauthors’ names in your prose or in an endnote might be useful if you wish to make the authorship clearer or to give credit to the collaborators.

 

 

 

Published 13 April 2018

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