In academic writing, proper citation practices are essential to acknowledge the intellectual contributions of authors and to uphold the integrity of scholarly discourse. For scholars, students, and writers engaged in the study of drama and theater, understanding how to cite a play in MLA format is important. This guide delves into the intricacies of citing plays in MLA, providing a step-by-step elucidation of the citation process for various play types, including classic and contemporary works.
Definition: How to cite a play in MLA
An MLA parenthetical citation for a play with numbered lines should include the play’s title, author, act number, scene number, and line numbers. Without line numbers, refer to the page the text appears on. Capitalize, punctuate, and indent dialogue as necessary.
How to cite a play in MLA: In-text citations
An MLA in-text citation includes the author’s last name and page number:
Replace the page number with the act, scene, and line numbers, separated by periods if they’re included in the play:
If the text only employs lines, clarify what the numbers represent by including “lines” before the author’s name or title in the first citation of that piece. Subsequent references to the same play may omit “lines.”
Multiple plays by the same author
In articles focusing on many works by a single playwright, italicize the play title instead of the writer’s name in each reference.
The MLA style manual suggests using abbreviations after the initial reference to avoid repeating play titles throughout your dissertation. If your study is on Shakespeare, you can utilize commonly accepted acronyms for play titles.
When quoting several dialogue lines from a play or film:
- Place the quotation on a new line with a half-inch left margin indent.
- The discourse should begin with the character’s name in capital letters and a period.
- If a character’s discourse extends beyond one line, indent the subsequent lines by a half inch.
- Add the citation following the punctuation mark.
How to cite a play in MLA: Works Cited list
The Works Cited section contains the citation information used in the text. The citation format depends on whether it was published as a book, an anthology, or a live performance.
If the play is published as a book, the citation format is identical to the standard MLA format.
Collection or anthology
Put a period after the play’s title if published in a collection or anthology, and then give the complete details of the sourcebook.
If there is no editor listed, simply remove this section and proceed as illustrated above.
To reference a live performance of a play, provide the date and location of the performance. Include the theater company as well.
MLA style ensures that your reader knows the play being cited. Italicize the work’s title with the page number or scene, act , and lines and only use the full title in the initial citation.
Quotes longer than four prose lines or three verse lines should be placed in a separate block of text without quotation marks. Begin the quotation on a new line, double-spacing throughout and indenting it by 1/2 inch from the left margin.