Questions frequently arise on citation format when there are two or
more works by the same author(s). This page gives examples for both
in-text citations and the Works Cited listings to which such citations
Principles of In-text Citations for Two or More Works by the Same
The principles for in-text citations when there are two or more works by
the same author [or two or more works with an unknown author but with the
same title, etc.] are the same as for other citations: the format used
The MLA method of citing two or more works by the same author using
in-text citations is to refer to the author name plus an unambiguous
key word or words from the title(s) of the different works(s) by
the author (cf. MLA Handbook, 5th edition, section 5.4.6., page
218). However, in certain circumstances [see the Interview
citations below] the year or date of publication may also used,
when it would be the equivalent of the title "key word" or better satisfy
requirements #2 and #3 above than a regular word from the title.
- Explictly refer to the specific Works Cited
listing in question;
- Be as concise as possible, while still unambiguous, to not be
intrusive to the paper's readability;
- Highlight the most relevant detail of the particular citation.
Usually this will be the same as #1 above, but there are sometimes
circumstances in which it may differ (see below).
Examples of the Citations
The following paragraphs (adapted from the Rainbow Passage) gives examples.
(Note also different ways an in-text citation can be attributed in
MLA-modern format; one does not always have to just put the author
name and page number at the end of the paragraph!)
When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act as a prism and
form a rainbow (Able, Atmospherics 55). The rainbow is a division
of white light into many beautiful colors. These take the shape of a long
round arch, with its path high above, and its two ends apparently beyond
the horizon. Able further reports in Golden Expectations (97) that
there is, according to legend, a boiling pot of gold at one end. People
look, but no one ever finds it. In Biblical Beliefs Bobby Baker
expands on this by claiming that "when a man looks for something
beyond his reach, his friends say he is looking for the pot of gold at the
end of the rainbow" (137). The prominent British linguist David Crystal
observed in his 1995 Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
(255) that the "pot of gold" folksaying is common throughout world
Throughout the centuries people have explained the rainbow in various
ways. Some have accepted it as a miracle without physical explanation. To
the Hebrews it was a token that there would be no more universal floods
(Baker, Biblical 12). The Greeks used to imagine that it
was a sign from the gods to foretell war or heavy rain. The Norsemen
considered the rainbow as a bridge over which the gods passed from earth
to their home in the sky (Baker, Nuances 35).
Others have tried to explain the phenomenon physically. Two years ago,
physicist Chuck Charley said that Aristotle thought the rainbow was caused
by a reflection of the sun's rays by the rain (Interview, 2001).
Since then, however, he has found that it is not reflection, but
refraction by the raindrops which causes the rainbows (Interview,
2002). David Crystal, in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language
(49), suggests that language professionals should pay particular attention
to such terminological distinctions as that of "reflection" vs.
Additional Explanation for the 'Charley' and 'Crystal' Citations
In the last paragraph above, only (2002) would also work for the reference
to the second interview with Chuck Charley, since in the same paragraph
there has been a previous reference to Charley, and there are only two
listings for him in the Works Cited, both of which begin with
With the two sources by David Crystal, the best solution for in-text
citations would probably be direct reference to the titles of each work,
as shown in the example above. Otherwise, due to the length and
similarity of the two titles, using 'key words' may be awkward.
Both of Crystal's works begin "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of
...," with the 1995 book then followed by "the English Language" and
the 1997 book by simply "Language". But the titles are so similar that it
may be confusing to take only a distinct key word from the title alone,
as this would have to be "English" for the 1995 publication (e.g.
"Crystal, Cambridge" vs "Crystal, English"). Thus other
solutions may be more practical, if one does not want to refer repeatedly
in the text to the full titles of the books. Such solutions are not
covered explicitly in current MLA Citation guidelines, but follow the
logic of similar cases.
For example, two key words could be used: "Crystal, Cambridge
English" vs. "Crystal, Cambridge Language." Or, the year of
publication could be used to distinguish between the two, if this would be
felt more clear: for example (Crystal, Cambridge 1995 page#) vs
(Crystal, Cambridge 1997 page#), or else, shorter yet, simply
(Crystal, 1995 page#) vs (Crystal, 1997 page#).
The problem with the latter solution, however, would be confusion
between the two numbers ending the in-text citation (the 'key word'
year-of-publication and the page number), as one would have, for example,
(Crystal, 1995 17). The year of publication is not part of the title of
Crystal's work, so it cannot be put by itself in boldface. It might,
however, be put in boldface if included with a key word from the title as
a means of distinguishing one of Crystal's titles from the other.
In short, for special citation cases such as the two similarly-titled
works by David Crystal, direct reference to the full title in the body of
the paper would be the easiest solution, particularly for first references
in the paper. For subsequent references, either the form (Crystal,
Cambridge 17) vs (Crystal, Cambridge English 17) or else
(Crystal, Cambridge 1995 17) vs (Crystal, Cambridge 1997
17), with the year of publication added to the same key word for both of
his works, would be the shortest form that would also provide easiest
Incorporation of the year into the in-text citation in this case would
appear to be similar to APA style, but in MLA style the year would have a
different function from what it would have had in APA style.
Procedure for Listing Names of Authors With Two or More Works in
the Works Cited
In the Works Cited listing, when there are multiple works by the same
author give the author's name only in the first listing. In subsequent
listing for the same author, type three hyphens followed by a period and
then the title. Works listed under the same name are alphabetized by the
title of the work.
If the person named was an editor, translator or compiler rather than a
"sole author," use the appropriate abbreviation (ed., trans, or comp.)
before the title. If the author is unknown (mainly with web references)
and the title is the same (see the Interviews below), the listing
order would be determined by the date [or other unambiguous logical
Note that while three hyphens should be used to indicate the same
author as in the previous work(s) cited, this form may only be used with
human names (such as Adam Able and Bobby Baker) or with 'institutional' or
'corporate' authors (for example the Federal Reserve Board of Directors,
etc.), but not with 'titles' such as the Interview with Chuck
Charley. In cases of multiple references like this where there is no
"author," but the title of the source begins the Works Cited entry, the
title should be repeated.
- Able, Adam. Atmospherics and Mythology. Paradise: Utopia
- - - - . Golden Expectations. Paradise: Utopia Press, 2000.
- Baker, Bobby. Biblical Beliefs. Paradise: Utopia Press, 1999.
- - - - . Numerous Nordic Nautical Nuances. Paradise: Utopia
- Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English
Language. Cambridge [U.K.]: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
- - - - . The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. 2nd Edition.
Cambridge [U.K.]: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Interview with Chuck Charley. Rain Refractions Annual
Online, 2001. Viewed 01 April 2010.
- Interview with Chuck Charley. Rain Refractions Annual
Online, 2002. Viewed 01 April 2010.
[assume in the two Interviews that no interviewer or 'author'
name was listed, and there were no page numbers]