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How to Cite Shakespeare
MLA Format
Shakespeare actually comes with his own set of abbreviations under MLA! These are
listed on page 278 of the handbook. Hamlet is abbreviated as Ham., and A Midsummer
Night’s Dream is abbreviated as MND. Also, when quoting more than one line of poetry,
including Shakespeare, use the forward slash (/) to indicate line breaks and double
forward slashes (//) to indicate stanza breaks.
In your in-text citation, you include the title, act, scene, and lines. Look at these examples
from Hamlet:
Using the play’s title in the lead-in to the quote:
In Ham., Polonius has some advice for his son: “This above all: to thine own self be
true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/thou canst not then be false to any
Using the play’s title as part of the parenthetical reference
Polonius tells Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as
the night the day,/thou canst not then be false to any man”(Ham. 1.3.84-86).
APA Format
The APA Manual contains no information on how to cite Shakespeare specifically.
However, it does have a section on classical works, which I include here for information
purposes only. Please use the MLA format above when formatting assignments for
this class.
3.100 Classical Works
When a work has not date of publication, cite in text the author’s name, followed by a
comma and n.d. for “no date”. When a date of publication is inapplicable, such as for
some very old works, cite the year of the translation you used, preceded by trans., or the
year of the version you used, followed by version (italics added for emphasis; don’t use
italics in your citations). When you know the original date of publication, include this in
the citation.
(Aristotle, trans. 1931)
James (1890/1983)
Reference entries are not required for major classical workds, such as ancient Greek and
Roman works and the Bible; simnpy identify in the first citation in the text the version
you used. Parts of classical works (e.g., books, chapters, verses, lines, cantos) are
numbered systematically across all editions, so use these numbers instead of page
numbers when referring to specific parts of your source:
1 Cor. 13:1 (Revised Standard Version)