How to use Et Cetera in Academic Writing

How to use Et Cetera in Academic Writing

The phrase et cetera or what or normally abbreviated as etc is one of the most commonly used phrases. It is good to note that this word is in Latin. When translated to English”et” becomes and while “cetera” becomes “the rest”. It then follows that etc in English means the rest.  If you really know how to use et cetera in academic writing then you will agree that it is used when writing an incomplete list of similar items. Notably, etc shows that there are other items that have been omitted in a certain list. There are a number of key things that you should keep in mind when using et cetera in academic writing.

To begin with, you should use et cetera when the item being omitted is obvious. If it so happens that you have included etc so that you can omit some items that are unclear to the reader then that amounts to academic dishonesty or laziness. It is good to note that students who do not really understand the best way to use et cetera include it when they are unable to come up with a complete list or sufficient examples. In other words, they think that they do not have to trouble themselves by thinking about sufficient number of examples or items as all they have to do is to include “etc” after listing one or two examples or items.

Secondly, you ought to use et cetera when listing all the items of the same kind is not important. For instance, when listing different types of emotions you can write “anger, joy, fear etc”. In this example it is not necessary to include a full list and it is clear what the other omitted items are. When using et cetera in academic writing you should be sure that it is not important to include the omitted items.

Notably, etc is not the same as et al. Some students think that using etc in academic writing to include a list of omitted people for instance when listing the authors of a given book is correct. Notably, et al should be used to show that you have omitted a number of people whereas etc demonstrates that you have omitted a list of things. Moreover, you expected not to write “and etc” this is because this is a form of redundancy as “et” translates into and. Our writers who understand how to use etc in academic writing can help you in correcting using this phrase.


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