By David Becker
This Valentine’s Day, I would like to give you a simple piece of advice: Never, ever use et al. when addressing the one you love! It’s fine when you’re citing sources for an academic paper, but it doesn’t work as well with a card and a bouquet of flowers.
We have discussed the proper use of et al. in a previous blog post, and you can also find this information in section 6.12 of the Publication Manual (pp. 175–176). Basically, when citing a work by three to five authors in-text, you should list all of their surnames in the first citation. In subsequent citations, you should include only the first author’s surname followed by et al. If you are a citing a work by six or more authors in-text, you should list the first author’s surname followed by et al. in all citations. So unless you want to have an awkward conversation with your significant other about the rest of the significant others in your life, I would avoid using et al. in your Valentine’s Day card.
Speaking of which, if you’re having trouble finding a good Valentine’s Day card this year, or if you’re desperately searching for a last-minute gift, I would recommend sending APA Style's very own Valentine’s Day card to the one you love. You can also send it to your friends, your family, the anxious psychology student in your life, your favorite professor, your least favorite professor, or whoever else you think would appreciate it.
Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at APA Style!