How do I distinguish works by an author that have the same title?
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.
The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook recommends brevity and clarity in an in-text citation (116)—brevity so that a reference won’t obstruct the flow of reading and clarity so that the reader can easily find the corresponding entry in the works-cited list. If you cite two works by the same author, you must provide a short title in your in-text citation, and if two or more works by an author have the same title, additional information is needed so that the reference, if not quite as brief, will be clear.
You should usually include the first unique piece of information. Insert the information in square brackets:
The documentation gave him a “dull but persistent headache” (Curse [3rd ed.] 45).
In reply, Fustian remarked, “Excuse me?” (“Could” [Portland Gazette] 5).
He repeated, over and over, “Jag förstår inte” (Förbannelsen [translated by Flint] 899).
“Sometimes you just have to . . . spell it out” (Selected Works [edited by Prolix et al.] 278).
In some specialized works, however, where a particular piece of information is especially relevant to your discussion, you might decide to use that information instead. For example, in an essay on how editions of Othello have changed over time, the year of publication might be the clearest and most important information to give.
Fustian, Sebastian. “Could You Make That a Little Clearer?” Gallimaufry, 7 June 1994, www.gallimaufry.com.
———. “Could You Make That a Little Clearer?” Portland Gazette, vol. 10, no. 3, 1994, pp. 5–6.
———. The Curse of Uncertainty. 2nd ed., U of Florida P, 2015.
———. The Curse of Uncertainty. 3rd ed., Gotham Press, 2016. Critical Mess 7.
———. Förbannelsen av Osäkerhet. Translated by Gerulphus Flint, Röra Books, 2014.
———. Förbannelsen av Osäkerhet. Translated by Sandra Scramble, U of Stockholm, 2012.
———. Selected Works of Fustian. Edited by Rosalind Word Bloat and Jeremy Arcane, Important Press, 2015.
———. Selected Works of Fustian. Edited by Edmund Prolix et al., Recondite UP, 2011.
Van Der Konzeiss, Vladimir, and Phineas Succinct. “Why We Cannot Stand Fustian.” The Old City Times, 15 Jan. 2015, pp. 8–12.
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.