Help with retaining "et al" when updating citations


When I add a new in-text citation with 3+ authors, the citation defaults to “Author et al.”, which is what I want. But when I “update citations & bibliography,” all the citations that had been “et al.” convert to “Author 1, Author 2, and Author 3.”

I’ve found that editing the citation to “suppress author” and then un-“suppress author” switches the citation back to “et al” format, but that’s a time-intensive measure for many citations and the next time I update citations, the “et al” citations convert to “Author 1, Author 2, and Author 3” again.

Could you please advise on a fix for this? In addition, when I update citations, I lose any formatting / highlighting that I had added to the original. Is there any way to retain highlighting etc. when updating citations?


The number of authors to include is determined by the Citation Style you select. The citations you are most likely looking at are just placeholders. If you only want one author to show, you can for example choose the Harvard style.

Highlights, font, and font size should be retained for the citation if the text surrounding the citation shares that style. Most types of formatting, however, is lost, because some of these are specified by citation styles.

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Hi Jason,

Just a follow-up question: is there a way that we can manually change the citation style to use “et al.” with 3+ authors in Paperpile?

For example, I am using Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (author-date), but it does not convert to “et al.” when there are 3+ authors by default. I would like to ask if there is a way to change that in Paperpile

Thanks in advance!.

Jeff, we fetch our styles from community-based online repository CSL which has over 8,000 entries. Styles can be modified using their online editing tool available at

If you modify/create your own style, download the CSL file to your computer and upload it to Paperpile via Settings > Citation styles. This will then be available to use in GDocs and Word.