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MLA Citation Help: Shakespeare

Cite a Shakespeare Play

Did you find the play in an Anthology?:

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida. The Applause First Folio of Shakespeare in Modern Type, edited and annotated by Neil Freeman, 2001, pp. 569-597.

Is it a stand-alone book?

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Yale UP, 2006.

Abbreviate Shakespeare's Works

To avoid awkward or repetitive citation in your paper, you may abbreviate Shakespeare's works.  Use the full title the first time you mention the play, and then use abbreviations after that. Here are some standard abbreviations:

Ado Much Ado about Nothing JC Julius Caesar
Ant. Antony and Cleopatra Jn. King John
AWW All's Well That Ends Well LLL Love's Labour's Lost
AYL As You Like It Mac. Macbeth
Cor. Coriolanus MM Measure for Measure
Cym. Cymbeline MND A Midsummer Night's Dream
Err. The Comedy of Errors MV The Merchant of Venice
F1 First Folio edition (1623) Oth. Othello
F2 Second Folio edition (1632) R2 Richard II
Ham. Hamlet R3 Richard III
1H4 Henry IV, Part 1 Rom. Romeo and Juliet
2H4 Henry IV, Part 2 Shr. The Taming of the Shrew
H5 Henry V Son. Sonnets
1H6 Henry IV, Part 1 TGV The Two Gentlemen of Verona
2H6 Henry VI, Part 2 Tit. Titus Andronicus
3H6 Henry VI, Part 3 Tmp. The Tempest
H8 Henry VIII TN Twelfth Night
Tro. Troilus and Cressida
Wiv. The Merry Wives of Windsor
WT The Winter's Tale

Parenthetical Citation for Shakespeare

1. When you quote from a play, divide lines of verse with slashes the way you would if quoting poetry.

2. Your in-text citation refer to Act, scene, and line numbers -- not page numbers. The period goes after the parenthetical reference.

EXAMPLE:  In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus draws a comparison that: "The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, / Are of imagination all compact" (V. i.7-8).

EXAMPLE:  In Twelfth Night, Feste the clown sums up the play's world view when he says, "Nothing that is so, is so" (IV.1.7).

EXAMPLEEarly in the play, Viola reminds us that Shakespeare's fools often behave the most rationally and give the wisest counsel of any players when she refers to Feste, "This fellow is wise enough to play the fool, / And to do that well craves a kind of wit" (III.1.56-57).

3. Verse quotations of more than three lines in length need to begin on a new line, and the whole block is indented, as in any block quotation. The parenthetical citation, located at the end of the verse quotation and after the end punctuation, will include the initials of the play's name and the line numbers (unless previously mentioned in text).

EXAMPLE:  Duke Orsino, frustrated in his pursuit of Olivia, asks his musicians to overload him with music (the "food of love"), and in so doing, remove his appetite for love the way overeating removes one's appetite for food:

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again, it had a dying fall.
O it came o'er my ear, like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no more,
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before. (TN. I. 1. 1-8)

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