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How to Use Et Al. in Every Format—Et Al. Meaning

Written by Scribendi


Have you ever come across "et al." and wondered what it meant? Or how to use it?

If so, you're not alone. This Latin phrase is commonly used in academic writing and can be confused with other Latin phrases like "etc."

Things get even more complex when you realize that the placement of et al. changes depending on what style guide you're using.

Read on for a simplified breakdown of how to use et al. in every format, so you never get stuck.

Et Al. Definition

Et Al. Meaning

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, it helps to first understand the literal definition of et al. That way, you'll know exactly what you're saying when you use the term.

The phrase "et al." is derived from the Latin phrase "et alia," which means "and others." You are likely to encounter et al. in the references, in-text citations, and reference lists of academic texts.

For example, you might see the phrase, "Horowitz et al. (2012) published groundbreaking research," which means that Horowitz and others published the research.

Why Is Et Al. Used?

Et al. is used to simplify citations within your text or reference list. It lets the reader know that other authors have contributed to the work you're citing, without you having to list every author.

Et al. is also used to simplify subsequent references to groups of coauthors that have already been cited in full. For example, if you're citing the same group over and over, using et al. can simplify that citation throughout your paper.

How to Write Et Al.

Where Should I Put the Period?

The period in et al. should go at the end of "al" because "al" is an abbreviation for "alia," meaning "others."

There is no period after "et" because "et" isn't an abbreviation. It's a full word in Latin, meaning "and."

Remember, "et al." is the only correct way to type this phrase.

A trick for remembering to include the period after "al" is to think of another common abbreviation, "etc."

"Etc." abbreviates et cetera, meaning "and the rest," and it always requires a period at the end. So et al., which is similar, always takes a period at the end too.

Here are a few common misspellings of et al.:

  • et. al

  • et. al.

  • et al

  • et all

When you use other punctuation with et al., like a comma, it goes after the period. But if you're ending a sentence with et al., you don't need an additional period.

Should I Italicize Et Al.?

Most major style guides (including APA, MLA, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Harvard) do not require et al. to be italicized. However, some field-specific publications do require the italicization of the phrase, so it's always a good idea to double-check.

Using et al. in a sentence appropriately varies among style guides. Check out the overviews of different style guides below to make sure you're using this tricky phrase correctly.

How to Use Et Al.

How to Use Et Al., with Examples

APA Format

APA format, established by the American Psychological Association, is commonly used for publications, essays, reports, and books in the fields of psychology and social science.

Also called APA style, this format has established specific standards for scientific and scholarly writing. It encourages uniformity and consistency in the way content is organized and references are cited.

APA in-text citations, reference lists, and title pages adhere to formatting requirements that differ from those of other styles.

For example, APA includes the author's surname and publication year in in-text citations, using an ampersand if there are two authors:

(Smith, 2012)

(Smith & Jones, 2012)

Another differentiator between APA and other styles is that APA requires a cover page, called a Title Page, and uses the title "References" above the citation list at the end of papers or manuscripts.

Traditionally, APA format is used for a range of subjects in the social and behavioral sciences, including:

  • Psychology

  • Linguistics

  • Sociology

  • Economics

  • Humanities

  • Healthcare

  • Nursing

When to Use Et Al. in APA

When dealing with a work by three or more authors in APA format (seventh edition), use the first author's last name in the signal phrase or parenthesis, followed by et al.

(McKenzie et al., 2020)

McKenzie et al. (2020)

Keep in mind that et al. wouldn't be needed if you were citing just two authors. If you were citing two authors and you replaced one of their names with et al., meaning "and others," this would be incorrect.

Use et al. in APA in-text citations only if you're citing at least three authors, and remember that et al. is never used in the reference list in APA.

Et Al. Example in APA Format

The use of et al. in APA format differs from other styles when it comes to the References.

Its format requires listing the surnames and first initials of up to 20 authors, placing an ampersand before the final author.

Karloff, J., McMahon, S., Watson, C., Williamson, M., Russell, S., Holden, R., Williams, B., Messier, A., Nesbo, J., Lamott, A., Shaffer, M., Barrows, A., Perry, T., Rooney, K., Cruz, M., Warren, G., Granville, D., Gonzalez, R., Johnson, S., & Galloway, J.

For more than 20 authors, you would replace all authors after the 19th with ellipses, followed by the final author's name.

Karloff, J., McMahon, S., Watson, C., Williamson, M., Russell, S., Holden, R., Williams, B., Messier, A., Nesbo, J., Lamott, A., Shaffer, M., Barrows, A., Perry, T., Rooney, K., Cruz, M., Warren, G., Granville, D., Gonzalez, R., Johnson, S., … Galloway, J.

Et Al. in APA In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

When citing three or more authors in text with APA (seventh edition), you can use et al. upon the first and subsequent references to a source.

Before the seventh edition of APA, the names of up to five authors had to be spelled out in the text. Et al. could only be used upon subsequent references.

Luckily, the seventh edition has been simplified. Here is an example of how to use et al. for in-text citations in APA.

Three or more authors:

Parenthetical: (Johnson et al., 2020)

Nonparenthetical: Johnson et al. (2020)

MLA Format

MLA format was developed by the Modern Language Association. It provides specific guidelines for students and researchers writing academically in the fields of language and literature.

Often called MLA style, this format allows for an easy reading experience. It offers a uniform and consistent method of adding citations to books or literature.

Using et al. in MLA is different from APA and other styles in its requirements for the use of et al. MLA has different standards for layout, citations, and abbreviations.

There are also slight differences in the way authors are cited. But the spelling of et al. is always the same, regardless of the style guide being used, with lowercase letters and no punctuation after "et"—the only punctuation is the period after "al."

MLA format is traditionally used by writers and students creating work in the following disciplines:

  • Language and literature

  • Comparative literature

  • Literary criticism

  • Cultural studies

If you're formatting an essay or paper in MLA, the most updated edition is the ninth, published in April 2021.

When to Use Et Al. in MLA

You can use et al. in MLA when referring to multiple authors—three or more, to be exact. And you can add et al. to both your in-text citations and your Works Cited page (the name for the reference list).

Et Al. Example in MLA Format

Let's look at how to cite multiple authors in MLA in your Works Cited page with et al.

See the following two examples for citing a collection of poems and a collection of stories using et al. in MLA.

O'Hara, Frank, et al. The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara. University of California Press, 1995.

Levine, Robert S., et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ninth ed., W.W. Norton &

Company, 2022.

Note that the second line of the citation is indented by half an inch.

Et Al. in MLA In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

Now, we'll review how to cite multiple authors using et al. in MLA in-text citations.

MLA format requires the inclusion of the first author's surname, then et al., and then the page number.

(Lackey et al. 56)

The above is an example of a parenthetical in-text citation with et al. Here is an example of how to incorporate it within your prose:

According to Gilbert et al., "Today, however, we can see more clearly just how complex and multifaceted Woolf's set of women writers really is" (23).

Chicago

The Chicago Manual of Style, often called CMS, CMOS, or Chicago, is a style guide used by authors, editors, indexers, designers, and publishers to prepare manuscripts and to aid in the revision of grammar, punctuation, and usage.

Dubbed the "editor's bible," the Chicago Manual of Style is typically used with material intended for publication. It's the style most often applied to novels, blogs, and creative nonfiction.

A key differentiator of Chicago style is that it offers two systems for source citations: notes and bibliography or author-date.

The notes and bibliography system is used by scholars and writers working in the humanities, and the author-date system is preferred by writers in the fields of science and social science.

That being said, here are a few of the most common fields in which Chicago style is used:

  • Literature

  • History

  • Arts

  • Social science

  • Natural science

The most recent edition is the 17th, which was published in September 2017. Let's look at how to use et al. in Chicago style.

When to Use Et Al. in Chicago Style

In essays adhering to Chicago style, you can use et al. when citing a source with four or more authors.

The format and placement of et al. can vary because, as we mentioned earlier, Chicago uses two systems for source citation: notes and bibliography and author-date. So the placement really depends on which system you're using!

But as a general rule, you can use et al. in your in-text citations, in your footnotes and endnotes, and in your reference list at the end of your document.

Note that bibliographies go with the notes and bibliography system, and reference lists go with the author-date system.

Et Al. Example in Chicago Style

You will use et al. in bibliographic form in Chicago Style for sources with more than 10 authors. In such cases, you'll list the first seven authors, followed by et al.

The citation format in your bibliography will change depending on whether you're using the notes and bibliography system or the author-date system, but the placement and format of et al. are the same.

Notes and bibliography system:

Jackson, Tiffany D., Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon,

Natasha Schrader, et al. Blackout. New York, NY: Quill Tree Books, an imprint of

HarperCollins Publishers, 2021.

Author-date system:

Jackson, Tiffany D., Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon,

Natasha Schrader, et al. 2021. Blackout. New York, NY: Quill Tree Books, an imprint of

HarperCollins Publishers.

Et Al. in Chicago Style In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

When using et al. in an in-text citation of four or more authors, et al. can be formatted in a few different ways, depending on which source citation system you're using. Take a look at the examples below.

In the author-date system, et al. goes after the first author's surname in an in-text citation.

(Johnson et al. 2021, 465)

In the notes and bibliography system, et al. can go in a short or long footnote. Here's how the format breaks down for each type:

Short footnote: Johnson et al.

Long footnote: David Johnson et al.

Turabian

Turabian style is similar to Chicago style when it comes to how to write et al. Published by Kate L. Turabian in 1937, this style was created for researchers and students. Its official title is A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

You can think of it as a student's version of Chicago style. Turabian style places greater emphasis on student needs regarding the formatting of papers and citations, and this is its biggest differentiator.

This manual is also shorter and contains fewer instructions than others. Another differentiator of Turabian is that it covers a wide spectrum of disciplines, including:

  • Music

  • History

  • Psychology

  • Sociology

  • Art history

  • Social studies

  • Global studies

  • Religious studies

If you're looking for the latest edition, be sure to use the ninth, published in 2018.

When to Use Et Al. in Turabian Style

As in Chicago style, you can use et al. in a sentence in Turabian when citing four or more authors.

You can also use et al. when citing sources in both the main text and the bibliography, and this is true of both the notes and bibliography and the author-date citation systems.

Where you should put et al. and how you should format it will vary depending on which citation system you use. Just keep in mind that you can use et al. in Turabian style whenever you have four or more authors to cite.

Et Al. Example in Turabian Style

The great thing about using Turabian style is that if you understand how to use et al. in Chicago style, using it in Turabian will be a breeze.

Below are some examples of how to write et al. in either your bibliography (notes and bibliography system) or reference list (author-date system) in Turabian style.

Notes and bibliography system (book):

Using the Turabian citation system, you'll follow the same format for et al. Only the placement of the publication date changes. See the examples below.

Kitamura, Katie, Allen Johnson, Birk Meyer, Alex Fritas, Joan Bigsby, Becca Thomas, Greg 

Lewis, et al. A Separation. New York: Riverhead Books. 2017. 

Author-date citation system (book):

For more than 10 authors, list the first seven authors and follow them up with et al.

Kitamura, Katie, Allen Johnson, Birk Meyer, Alex Fritas, Joan Bigsby, Becca Thomas, Greg Lewis,       

et al. 2017. A Separation. New York: Riverhead Books. 

Et Al. in Turabian In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

Using et al. in your in-text citations is the same in Turabian as it is in Chicago style. You'll put et al. in your footnotes (short and long) and within your text. Below are examples of each.

In the author-date system, et al. goes after the first author's surname in an in-text citation.

(Johnson et al. 2017, 45)

In the notes and bibliography system, et al. could go in a short or long footnote. Here's how the format breaks down for each type of footnote.

Short footnote: Weber et al.

Long footnote: Jesse N. Weber et al.

Harvard

Harvard style is a popular formatting style across many universities. It's been known to go by a couple of different names, including the Harvard Referencing System and Author-Date Referencing.

There's no official connection between Harvard style and Harvard University. This style is simply another way for students to cite their sources and format their papers uniformly.

Common disciplines that use this style include the following:

  • Humanities

  • Behavioral sciences

  • Philosophy

The thing to remember about Harvard style is that it isn't as cut-and-dried as other styles—different schools have different requirements. This means that using et al. in Harvard style can change depending on what school you go to.

Be sure to refer to your professor's instructions before using et al. in your papers.

For the purposes of this post, we'll be talking about how to use et al. following Harvard Business School's Citation Guide.

When to Use Et Al. in Harvard Style

While some aspects of Harvard style can vary across institutions, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that et al. should be used to cite four or more authors.

So you should use et al. when you're citing four or more authors in both your footnotes and in your bibliography. You can also use the term in both parenthetical statements and as a signal phrase.

Et Al. Example in Harvard Style

In the bibliography section of your paper, you can use et al. for academic citations of sources with four or more authors.

Unlike Chicago, you don't have to list a certain number of authors before you list et al.—you can simply use et al. after the first author's name.

Here are two examples, one for a book citation and one for a web citation:

Book:

Christensen, C. Roland, et al. Business Policy: Text and Cases. 5th ed. Homewood, IL: Richard 

D. Irwin, Inc., 1982.

Web:

Enright, Michael J., et al. "Daewoo and the Korean Chaebol." University of Hong Kong case no. 

HKU143 (University of Hong Kong, August 2001). Harvard Business Publishing. 

http://hbsp.harvard.edu/, accessed March 2007.

Et Al. in Harvard Style In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

When it comes to using et al. in Harvard style in-text citations, you can use it in your footnotes, parenthetical phrases, and signal phrases.

See examples of each below.

Footnote:

³C. Roland Christensen et al., Business Policy: Text and Cases, 5th ed. (Homewood, IL:

Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1982), p. 101.

Parenthetical phrase:

(Johnson et al. 2007)

Signal phrase:

Johnson et al. (2007)

Again, keep in mind that Harvard style gives your instructor leeway in their guidelines for how to format et al., so be sure to follow their instructions.

Vancouver

An additional way to cite references is to use Vancouver style. This style was developed in Vancouver in 1978 by medical journal editors. It is most commonly used in medicine and science.

The biggest difference between Vancouver and other styles is its use of numbers. Often called the Numbering System, Vancouver cites sources by placing numbers within parentheses or superscripts in the main text.

These citation numbers are tied to entries in your reference list. Like in other styles, your reference list in Vancouver style will have all of the sources you've cited within your text.

Some common fields that use Vancouver are as follows:

  • Medicine

  • Biomedicine

  • Natural science

As in Harvard style, keep in mind that some universities and organizations have their own specific formatting requirements when it comes to citing work with et al. in Vancouver style.

When to Use Et Al. in Vancouver Style

With Vancouver style, you can use et al. for both in-text citations and within the reference list.

You should use et al. in your reference list when citing more than six authors. If you're citing just six authors, you'll need to spell out each author's surname and first initial, separating each author with a comma.

You should use et al. within the main text when citing multiple authors. Some universities differ in terms of how many authors, so it's best to check with your institution to confirm its preferences for this style.

Et Al. Example in Vancouver Style

Let's start our et al. examples for Vancouver with those in bibliographic form.

In Vancouver style, the bibliography is called a reference list. You'll add et al. to reference entries only if you're listing more than six authors. List the first six authors, then add et al.

Here's an example of a book citation with et al. in the reference list:

Doornbos MM, Groenhout ER, Hotz GK, Brandsen C, Cusveller B, Flikkema M, et al. 

Transforming care: a Christian vision of nursing practice. Grand Rapids, Michigan: 

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2005.

Note that the authors' surnames are followed by their first and (in many cases) middle initials, without punctuation.

Here's an example for an electronic journal article:

Aho M, Irshad B, Ackerman SJ, Lewis M, Leddy R, Pope T, et al. Correlation of sonographic

features of invasive ductal mammary carcinoma with age, tumor grade, and 

hormone-receptor status. J Clin Ultrasound [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2015 Apr 

27];41(1):10-7. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcu.21990/full 

DOI: 10.1002/jcu.21990

Et Al. in Vancouver Style In-Text Citations with Multiple Authors

As far as in-text citations go in Vancouver style, you can use et al. directly in the text, followed by a reference number.

Because Vancouver references sources within parentheses or superscripts, here are examples using et al. in-text with both systems:

Harrison et al. (5) agree that only one solution is viable.

Harrison et al.5 agree that only one solution is viable.

Et Al.

Et Alibi, Et Alii, and Others

Sometimes, et al. can be confused with other Latin phrases like et alibi and et alii. This is understandable because the terms all begin with the same letters!

Don't worry. Over the next few sections, we'll break down what each of these phrases means. That way, if you need to use them in your next paper or article, you won't use them incorrectly.

Et Alia

Et alia is the Latin phrase for "and others," and the phrase "et al." is its abbreviated form.

Et alia is meant to be used when a list contains too many people or things to name. In academic writing, it is used when citing sources with multiple authors.

However, the full phrase "et alia" isn't typically spelled out in academic writing. In papers, journals, and manuscripts, the abbreviated form "et al." is used, with a period after "al."

Et Alibi

Et alibi means "and elsewhere" in Latin. It's used in academic writing to show that the information you're citing is mentioned in other parts of a text, too.

For example, if you're citing a passage from the Bible that can also be found in other locations of the text, that would be a perfect instance for using et alibi.

Keep in mind that "et al." is the abbreviated form of both et alibi and et alia.

Et Aliae

Et aliae also means "and others" but in the feminine plural form. This means that et aliae refers specifically to a group of women or girls.

However, you won't need to differentiate between feminine or masculine forms when using et al. in your writing. You would simply use "et al."—the abbreviated form of both.

Et Alii

The Latin phrase et alii means "and others" in the masculine plural form. It’s used to refer to a group of men or boys.

But the abbreviated form, "et al.," is still what you would use to cite multiple authors.

As long as you can remember how to write the abbreviation et al. in your papers, you're good to go!

Difference between Et Al. and Etc.

Do you ever confuse et al. with etc.? You're not alone. The two are very similar.

While et al. means "and others" in Latin, etc. is short for the Latin et cetera and means "and the rest."

Both phrases indicate that something has been omitted from the text, and both are abbreviations. However, there are key differences to keep in mind to avoid using them incorrectly in your paper.

You use etc. to shorten a list. Its use lets the reader know that there are more items or examples you could list but that the shortened list allows the reader to get the idea.

For example, if you were to write, "The event is at the beach, so bring your swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, sandals, etc.," readers know they need to bring all beach items, not just the ones mentioned.

Similarly, you use et al. to shorten a list of authors or collaborators.

Et Al. Meaning

Common Mistakes

Spelling and formatting Latin phrases is no walk in the parkespecially when you need to get them right to earn a passing grade.

It also doesn't help that each style guide has its own formatting or that many Latin phrases can sound the same. It's enough to make your head spin!

Below, we'll cover common mistakes made when using et al. and why using it is so important for clear and concise academic writing.

Spelling

Spelling Latin phrases can be tricky, but abbreviating them correctly can be even trickier.

When using et al. in your papers, be sure to abbreviate it correctly and to use the right punctuation.

Et al. is always spelled as two separate words—"et" and "al"—with a period after "al."

The best way to remember how to punctuate and spell it is to remember that it's an abbreviation.

Here are a few common misspellings of et al. so you know to avoid them:

  • et all

  • et. al.

  • et. al

  • et-al

Using the Incorrect Style

Spelling et al. correctly is only half the battle. You'll also need to be sure you're using et al. in the style required by your university, institution, or professor.

As we mentioned earlier, there are many style guides to choose from, including MLA, Chicago, APA, and Turabian.

Each style has its own specific format for et al., so be sure to study its guidelines carefully before adding et al. to your references.

You'll especially want to take note of how et al. is used in both in-text and reference list citations and how many authors necessitate its use.

Not Using Et Al.

Using et al. is a clear and concise way of communicating your source information to readers without overwhelming them or taking away from your work.

It lets readers know that multiple authors or collaborators contributed to the source without having to list them all. Also, when referencing a source with several authors or collaborators multiple times, the use of et al. keeps the writing neat and tidy.

Not using et al. would make academic writing awkwardly long and arduous within the main text while extending bibliographies and reference lists unnecessarily.

Et al. helps academic writers and authors reference their sources in a clean-cut way.

How to Cite a Tweet

Nowadays, it's not uncommon for students or researchers to turn to social platforms like Twitter for their research.

Because of this, styles like MLA, APA, and Chicago have stayed current by offering standards for formatting citations of Tweets in research papers and scholarly articles.

Each style has its own formatting requirements for citing a Tweet, and these can vary among different editions of the same style.

Below are instructions for citing Tweets in each of the three major styles.

MLA

To cite a Tweet in MLA (ninth edition), you'll cite the first name and surname of the account holder (or the name of the organization) in addition to the Twitter handle.

Here is the basic structure:

Surname, First name [Username]. "Tweet message." Twitter, date posted, URL.

Here's an example:

Swift, Taylor [@taylorswift13]. "I'm so proud of this song and the memories I have with you guys 

because of it." Twitter, 22 November 2021, 

twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1462908809542787072.

To cite a Tweet from an organization in MLA, you'll use this structure:

Organization or Account Name [Username]. "Tweet message". Twitter, date posted, URL.

Here's an example:

The Wall Street Journal [@WSJ]. "Activist hedge fund Trian has acquired a stake in Unilever, 

people familiar with the matter say, adding pressure on the consumer-goods company." 

Twitter, 23 January 2022, twitter.com/WSJ/status/1485356694972551171.

APA

To cite a Tweet in APA style (seventh edition), you'll do things a little differently from MLA. APA requires only the author's full surname with the first name initialized.

You'll also include only the first 20 words of the Tweet in your reference.

Here is the basic structure:

Surname, Initials [@username]. (Year, Month Day). Text of Tweet [Tweet]. Twitter. URL

Here's an example:

Gates, B. [@BillGates]. (2019, September 7). Today, it's difficult for researchers to diagnose 

#Alzheimers patients early enough to intervene. A reliable, easy and accurate diagnostic 

would [Thumbnail with link attached] [Tweet]. Twitter. 

https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/1170305718425137152

Chicago

To cite a Tweet in Chicago style, you'll include many of the same elements as Tweet citations in other styles, but you'll also add a timestamp.

The general structure is as follows:

First name Surname (@TwitterHandle), "Text of Tweet," Twitter, Month Day, Year, 00:00 

a.m., link to Tweet.

Here's an example from the Chicago Manual of Style:

Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien), "In honor of Earth Day, I'm recycling my Tweets," Twitter, April 

22, 2015, 11:10 a.m., https://twitter.com/ConanOBrien/status/590940792967016448.

If you'd like to cite a Tweet within your text, here's an example using the above Tweet:

Conan O'Brien's Tweet was characteristically deadpan: "In honor of Earth Day, I'm recycling my Tweets" (@ConanOBrien, April 22, 2015).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Et Al. Mean in a Citation?

In a citation, et al. indicates that multiple authors are being cited within a reference in an academic work but that not all of their names are listed.

It's not uncommon for some sources to have 10 or even 20 authors, given the collaborative nature of research in the fields of medicine and science. Using et al. is a way of ensuring that all authors are referenced without crowding the content.

When Should Et Al. Be Used in APA Style?

Use et al. in APA in-text citations with multiple authors, as well as in the References. Specifically, use it when dealing with a work by three to five authors. You'll use the first author's surname in the signal phrase, parenthetical statement, or bibliographic entry, followed by et al.

Keep in mind that you should use et al. only for three or more authors, not two. Since et al. is an abbreviation for "and others," it must stand in for more than one person. If you were trying to cite two authors and you used et al. after the first one, et al. would represent one person as opposed to several "others," which would be incorrect.

What Is Et Al. in MLA?

In MLA style, et al. is an abbreviated Latin phrase meaning "and others." It indicates that multiple authors contributed to the source being cited but that not all of them are listed.

MLA recommends using et al. for sources with three or more authors. Et al. can be used both within the main text and on the Works Cited page. It's punctuated in the same way as in other styles, with a period after "al" only.

Here is a citation example using et al. in MLA:

(Gubar et al. 56)


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