Search for...

How to Cite Two Authors With the Same Last Name in the MLA Style

by Mary Wroblewski, Demand Media

    Students fret about following correct citation style and teachers try to pacify these fears. The best advice of all rightfully deserves a chapter in the 7th edition of the Modern Language Association style book: follow the rules of common sense. If you are citing two authors who share the same last name, common sense dictates that you'll use the authors' first names to distinguish between the two authors in the text as well as on the Works Cited page, where all references appear in an MLA paper.

    Distinguish In-Text Citations

    MLA style calls for the “author-page” citation style for in-text citations. You can accomplish this in one of two ways. First, you can include the author’s name at the beginning of a sentence. For two authors with the same last name, use the author’s first initial, like so: J. Morgan found ample proof of this newspaper readership trend (759). Second, you can include both identifiers at the end of the sentence, being sure to include the first initial, like so: Ample proof of this newspaper trend was discovered by a leading researcher (J. Morgan 759).

    Distinguish Works Cited Page Citations

    On the Works Cited page in an MLA paper, the first line is flush-left and the subsequent lines in an entry are indented five spaces. This allows for the author’s name to “pop” as the reader scans the page for additional information. List authors alphabetically by their last name, followed by their first name. For authors who share the same last name, alphabetize the authors’ first names, too. For example, “Morgan, James.” would appear before “Morgan, Scott.” on the Works Cited page.

    Style Your World With Color

    About the Author

    Mary Wroblewski has been writing professionally since 1994 for publications such as "Woman's Day," "The Chicago Tribune," "The Chicago Sun-Times" and "Crain's Chicago and New York Business." She has a B.S. in mass communication from Illinois State University and a M.A. in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    Watch An Education Video!