Citing sources is an integral part of academic writing, ensuring the integrity of your work and giving credit to those who have contributed to your ideas. When it comes to citing plays, the rules can be nuanced, and adherence to specific formats is crucial. In this guide, we will explore the importance of citing plays and delve into the intricacies of citing them in three major styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago.

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Citing sources is not only a formality. It’s a practice that upholds the principles of academic honesty. Failure to cite sources can result in unintentional plagiarism, leading to severe consequences. Specifically, when dealing with plays, citing becomes imperative when referencing the words of playwrights, analyzing dramatic scenes, or providing evidence for critical arguments.

For instance, when discussing the timeless tragedy “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, it’s essential to cite the play to acknowledge the author’s contribution and to enable readers to locate the specific scenes or lines under discussion.

Citing a Play in MLA

In MLA format, citing a play involves including the author’s last name, first name, the title of the play, the editor or translator’s name (if applicable), the publisher, the year of publication, and page numbers. For example:

An example of a play ctation in MLA

Ensure that you follow this structure when citing plays in MLA to maintain consistency and clarity in your references.

Citing a Play in APA

APA format follows a different structure for citing plays. Include the author’s last name, first initial, the year of publication, the title of the play, the editor’s name (if applicable), the title of the larger work or collection, and the publisher’s information. Here’s an example:

How to cite a play

Citing a Play in Chicago

Chicago style offers flexibility in citing plays, providing two methods: notes-bibliography and author-date. In the notes-bibliography style:

  • include the author’s name, the title of the play in italics or quotation marks, the editor’s name (if applicable), place of publication, publisher, and the year. For example:
How to cite a play
  • In the author-date style of Chicago citation, citing a play involves providing the author’s name, the publication year, and relevant page numbers within parentheses in the body of the text. Additionally, the full citation details will be included in the reference list at the end of your document. Here’s how to cite a play in the author-date style:
How to cite a play

Ensure consistency within your paper by adopting either the notes-bibliography or author-date style consistently.


Whether you choose MLA, APA, or Chicago style, the fundamental principle of citing remains the same – giving credit where credit is due. The examples provided serve as a guide to help you navigate the pecularities of each citation style, ensuring your work is not only well-researched but also ethically sound. So, the next time you dive into the world of plays and literature, remember the importance of proper citation – a practice that elevates your work and honors the contributions of those who came before you.


What information is required for citing a play?

To cite a play, include the author’s name, the title of the play, the editor or translator (if applicable), publication details (publisher, place, and year), and page numbers. Additional details like act and scene numbers may be required based on the citation style.

Should I include the act and scene numbers?

Including act and scene numbers depends on the citation style. Check the specific guidelines of the citation style you’re using.

How do I cite a live performance of a play?

To cite a live performance, include details like the title, playwright, director, venue, city, and date. For example:

“Author, A. (Playwright), & Director, D. (Director). (Year). Title of Play. City: Venue, Date.”

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