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How should I style my parenthetical citation the first time I quote lines from a poem if I have not mentioned the author’s name in my prose?

The MLA Handbook explains that if you are citing line numbers instead of page numbers in your parenthetical citation, you should “in your first citation, use the word line or lines” before the line numbers, “and then, having established that the numbers designate lines, give the numbers alone” (121):

According to the narrator of Felicia Hemans’s poem, the emerging prisoners “had learn’d, in cells of secret gloom, / How sunshine is forgotten!” (lines 131-32).

If you do not mention the author’s name in your prose, include it in the parenthetical citation and separate the name from the word line or lines with a comma:

According to the narrator of the poem, . . .

Published 12 June 2019

Can I create a works-cited-list entry for an essay, poem, or story in a collection by one author?

If you are citing more than one essay, poem, or story by the same author and using a single collection of that author’s works—edited or not—then it is generally most efficient to cite the collection as a whole in your works-cited list:

Walter Benjamin notes that in Naples “each private attitude or act is permeated by streams of communal life” whereas in Moscow “Bolshevism has abolished private life. The bureaucracy, political activity, the press are so powerful that no time remains for interests that do not converge with them” (171, 108). 
Work Cited
Benjamin, Walter. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writing, . . .

Published 14 June 2018

How do I cite multiple works by the same author from the same collection?

If you are citing multiple works by the same author from a collection that includes contributions by other authors, create a works-cited-list entry for each work you are citing: 

Works Cited
Milton, John. AreopagiticaThe Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by E. Talbot Donaldson et al., 4th ed., vol. 1, W. W. Norton, 1979, pp. 1399-1409. 
—. Samson Agonistes. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by E. Talbot Donaldson et al., 4th ed., vol. 1, W. W. Norton, 1979, pp. 1540-83. 

You may also provide a main entry for the collection and create cross-references to it:

Works Cited
Donaldson,  . . .

Published 8 May 2018

If I cite sources with the same lead author but different coauthors, do I use et al.?

Yes. In MLA style, when a work has more than two authors or editors, the works-cited-list entry provides the name of the lead author or editor and et al. 
For example, if you are citing the following work—in which Sandy Taylor is the lead author and John Smith and Wendy Johnson are listed as the coauthors—your entry would appear thus:

Taylor, Sandy, et al. “Collaboration in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Collaborative Writing, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, pp. 15-25.

If this same set of authors also wrote another article that you cite, and their names appear in the work in the same order as they do in the first article, . . .

Published 13 April 2018

If the author of a work is given as a division of an organization, do I still omit an author and list only the organization as publisher in my works-cited-list entry?

The MLA Handbook notes, “When a work is published by an organization that is also its author, begin the entry with the title, skipping the author element, and list the organization only as publisher” (25). But when the author of a work is a division or committee of the organization, list the division or committee as the author, and list the organization as the publisher:

Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies. Library Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions. American Library Association, 1992.
MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages. “Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World.” Modern Language Association, . . .

Published 10 April 2018

How do I indicate in my work-cited-list entry that the translator of a work is the same as the author of a work?

If the version of the work you are citing indicates that the author is also the translator of the work, repeat the author’s last name in the “Other contributor” slot:

Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Translated by Beckett, Grove Press, 1954.

If, however, you are citing a work known to be translated by its author but not presented as a translation, do not list the author as the translator:

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Wizard of the Crow. Anchor Books, 2007. 

If it is important for your reader to know that the author is also the translator of the work, . . .

Published 29 March 2018

How do I alphabetize several letters by the same author written to different recipients?

In a works-cited-list, when you list several letters by the same author to different recipients, alphabetize the letters according to the names of the recipients. For an example, see the letters from Thomas Hart Benton to Charles Fremont and Jessie Ann Benton Fremont in our post on citing unpublished letters.
  . . .

Published 8 March 2018

How do I cite a chapter by an individual author in a work with coauthors?

When you cite a chapter by an individual author in a work with coauthors, you must create a separate works-cited-list entry for each chapter:

Althusser, Louis. “Marx’s Critique.” Reading Capital, by Althusser and Étienne Balibar, translated by Ben Brewster, Verso, 2009, pp. 182-200.

Balibar, Étienne. “On Reproduction.” Reading Capital, by Louis Althusser and Balibar, translated by Ben Brewster, Verso, 2009, pp. 285-305.

Published 9 February 2018

How do I cite an author who has transitioned?

When you write about an author who has published works under more than one name and gender identity, we recommend following the guidelines in the MLA Handbook for authors who have published works under different names (2.1.1). The critic Jack (aka J. Jack) Halberstam, for instance, formerly published work as Judith Halberstam. If you are writing an essay in which you discuss both Gaga Feminism (published under J. Jack) and Female Masculinity (published under Judith), cross-reference the entries in the works-cited list as follows:

Halberstam, J. Jack (see also Halberstam, Judith). Gaga Feminism: Sex, . . .

Published 6 February 2018

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