In an in-text citation, how do I shorten a title enclosed in quotation marks if the title begins with a quotation?

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 enclosed in quotation marks that begins with a quotation, use the title within the title as the short form and retain the single quotation marks within double quotation marks:

As Barry Menikoff shows, Stevenson’s novels were influenced by his relation to the South Seas (“‘These Problematic Shores’”).

Works Cited

Menikoff, Barry. Narrating Scotland: The Imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson. U of South Carolina P, 2005.

—. “‘These Problematic Shores’: Robert Louis Stevenson in the South Seas.” The Ends of the Earth, 1876-1918, edited by Simon Gatrell, Ashfield Press, 1992, pp. 141-46.

When the introductory quotation is extremely long, truncate it:

Although Pamela is accepted into Mr. B.’s family, Charlotte Sussman argues that this outcome is tempered by the “precarious nature of Pamela’s ‘happiness,’” which is “hemmed in by the threat of physical punishment” as depicted in the narrative references to Sally Godfrey (“‘I Wonder’” 97). 

Works Cited

Sussman, Charlotte. “Epic, Exile, and the Global: Felicia Hemans’s The Forest Sanctuary.” Nineteenth-Century Literature, vol. 65, no. 4, 2011, pp. 481-512.

—.“‘I Wonder Whether Poor Miss Sally Godfrey Be Living or Dead’: The Married Woman and the Rise of the Novel.” Diacritics, vol. 20, no. 1, 1990, pp. 88-102.

A similar issue occurs when shortening a title within quotation marks that begins with a title in quotation marks. See our post for examples.