Answered By: Jessica Maris
Last Updated: May 13, 2015     Views: 125

The way you cite a play in your in-text citation will vary depending on if the play is a prose play (no line numbers) or a verse play (line numbers).

For prose plays, the MLA Handbook says:

"In a reference to a commonly studied prose work, such as a novel or play, that is available in several editions, it is helpful to provide more information than just a page number from the edition used... In such a reference, give the page number first, add a semicolon, and then give other identifying information, using appropriate abbreviations."


In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft recollects many "women who, not led by degrees to proper studies, and not permitted to choose for themselves, have indeed been overgrown children" (185; ch. 13, sec. 2).

For verse plays, the MLA Handbook says:

"In citing commonly studied verse plays and poems, omit page numbers altogether and cite by division (act, scene, canto, book, part) and line, with periods separating the various numbers"

In an example it gives for a citation of Act 5, scene 1, lines 5-12 of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, the in-text citation appears as: (Ant. 5.1.5-12). The handbook states that the titles of famous plays are often abbreviated.

The handbook also specifies that unless otherwise instructed, you should use arabic numerals even if the original play uses roman numerals.  For example, the original play may say "Act VII" but you would still use "7" in your citation.

For the Works Cited page, the citation will vary depending on if the play is in an anthology, a collection of the author's work, or a stand-alone book.

If it is part of an anthology, follow this format:

Playwright last name, playwright first name. Title of play. Title of anthology. Editor of anthology. City of publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Page numbers. Medium of publication.


Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Great Plays of the 20th Century. Ed. Llewellyn Sinclair. Springfield: Random House, 2000. 10-42. Print.

If the play is part of a collection of the author's works, follow the format above but omit the part about an editor.

If the play is a stand-alone volume, cite it as you would a book:

Playwright last name, Playwright first name. Title. City of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. Medium of publication.


Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New American Library, 1990. Print.

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