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Citing Sources: Shakespeare and MLA

This guide indicates the appropriate form for layout, in-text citations, and bibliography for MLA, APA, and Chicago formatted papers.

General information about MLA and Shakespeare

  • Italicize the titles of the plays – Macbeth (for the play), Macbeth (for the character)

  • You may abbreviate the title of the play in the parenthetical citation (check with your teacher first)

    • Macbeth – Mac.
    • Hamlet – Ham.
  • Do not use page numbers in parenthetical citation – always include (act.scene.lines)
    • Usually use Arabic numbers (1.5.4-5) or (2.1.110-13)
    • Some teachers still prefer Roman numerals (II.iv.4-6)
  • Always mention the author’s name – either in the text or in the parenthetical citation.
    • If author’s name mentioned in the text, only put the page number in parentheses, otherwise (author’s last name #).
    • If there are no different sources between quotes – can use  (#) 

In-text citations - short quotes

Quotes longer than three lines should begin on a new line.

  • if one line, put it in quotation marks within your text:

One Shakespearean protagonist seems resolute at first when he asserts, “Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift” (Hamlet 1.5.35).

  • If two or three lines, include the quote within your text but use the forward slash to indicate the separate verses:

One Shakespearean protagonist seems resolute at first when he asserts, “Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift / As meditation … / May sweep to my revenge” (Hamlet 1.5.35-37).  

(notice the forward slash is separated from the text by spaces. the ellipsis ... is used to indicate that some of the text was not included)

In-text citations - long quotes or dialogue

Direct quotes (long quotes or dialogue) – Quotations four lines or more or dialogue are formatted with  a block quote. Set the quotation off from your text. Indent one inch (2.54 cm.) for left margin. Capitalize the character’s name, followed by a period. Indent all subsequent lines an addition ¼ inch (.64 cm):

POLONIUS. Well be with you, gentlemen!

HAMLET. Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too! At each ear a hearer. That great

baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts. (Ham. 2.2.383-386)

In-text Citation: Citing an Indirect Source (Quoting a Source in a Source)

If there are no page numbers on the electronic source, use only the author name or the first main word of the title. However, you can indicate where the material came from in your text.

There are occasions where you may find a source that quotes another source that you want to use in your paper. Ideally, you would find the original source to ensure you understand the context of the quote. If you do decide to use the quote from the source you are using, however, you must recognize both sources. For example, in the Critical Insights series, we have a popular book of critical analysis called Things for Apart. One of the chapters, written by Amy Sickels, is entitled "The Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart." In her essay, she quotes Keith M. Booker. This is the quote you decide you want to use:

Booker makes the point that the "African novel is always a complex hybrid cultural phenomenon that combines Western and African cultural perspectives" (qtd. in Sickels 43).

The citation in the Works Cited page (remember you need a hanging indent):

Sickels, Amy. “The Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart." Things Fall Apart,  edited by M. Keith Booker, Salem Press, 2011, pp.  33-52.