In an in-text citation, how do I shorten a title that appears in quotation marks when it starts with a title in quotation marks?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

If you need to shorten a title within quotation marks that begins with a title in quotation marks, use the title within the title as the short form and retain the single quotation marks within double quotation marks:

Karen Ford argues that Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is “replete with contradictions” (“‘Yellow Wallpaper’” 311).

Works Cited

Ford, Karen. Gender and the Poetics of Excess: Moments of Brocade. UP of Mississippi, 1997.

—. “‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and Women’s Discourse.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 4, no. 2, 1985, pp. 309-14.

In the example above, note that you still omit the introductory article, just as you would with any shortened title in an in-text citation.

A similar issue occurs when shortening titles that begin with quotations. See our post for examples.