How to Cite Shakespeare

There is perhaps no better-known writer in history than William Shakespeare, the English playwright whose works have been acted and reenacted perhaps millions of times throughout their storied history. So how can you create a reference to one of Shakespeare’s works in your next research paper? Here are some tips for making your citation as accurate as possible.

To cite a play by Shakespeare, you’ll want to locate the following pieces of information:

  • The play’s title
  • Where and when the play was published (a book, anthology, etc.)
  • Where and when the play was performed (if you are citing it as a performance)
  • Any other contributors’ names (the director, actors, editors, authors, etc.)

As an example, let’s take a look at one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet, and how you would go about citing it in some of the most popular citation formats.

We have included examples for citing the play as both a published work in an anthology or book, and as a performance.

Cite as an Anthology

Citing Shakespeare in in MLA format (in an anthology)

Formula:

Shakespeare, William. Play TitleBook/Anthology Title, edited by Editor First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year Published, pp. #-#.

Example:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by Grant Evans, vol. Houghton Mifflin, 1974, pp. 1307-42.

Citing Shakespeare in APA format (in an anthology)

Formula:

Author’s last name, first initial. (Year published). Title. In First Initial. Editor Last Name (Ed.), Title of larger work/collection. Publisher city, state/country: Publisher.

Example:

Shakespeare, W. (1974). Romeo and Juliet. In G. Evans (Ed.), The riverside Shakespeare. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Citing Shakespeare in Harvard* format (in an anthology)

Formula:

Author’s last name, first initial. (Year published). Title. In Editor Last Name, First Initial (ed.) Title of book/anthology. Publisher city, state/country: Publisher, pp. #-#

Example:

Shakespeare, W. (1974) Romeo and Juliet. In Evans, G. (ed.) The riverside Shakespeare. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, pp. 1307-42.

Are you citing several sources in this citation style? Try the Cite This For Me Harvard referencing generator for help!


Cite as a Performance

Citing Shakespeare in MLA format (as a performance)

Formula:

Director Last Name, First Name, director. Play Title. By William Shakespeare. Name of Play Production Company, Date of Performance, Name of Theater, Theater Location.

Example:

Munby, Jonathan, director. Romeo and Juliet. By William Shakespeare. Shakespeare Globe Trust Performers, 1 Oct. 2017, American Airlines Theatre, New York.

Is your teacher asking for annotations? Read this guide about what is an annotated bibliography.

Citing Shakespeare in APA format (as a performance)

Formula:

Playwright Last Name, First Initial (Writer), & Director Last Name, First Initial (Director). (Date Seen). Performance title. Live performance at Theater Name, City, State.

Example:

Shakespeare, W. (Writer), & Munby, J. (Director). (2017, October 1). Romeo and Juliet. Live performance at the American Airlines Theatre, New York, NY.

For those who need it, here is page on how to do in-text citations. An APA example is included.

Citing Shakespeare in Harvard* format (as a performance)

Formula:

Play title by Playwright First Name Last Name (Year of Performance) Directed by Director First Name Last Name [Name of Theater, Location of Theater. Day Month of performance].

Example:

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (2017) Directed by Jonathan Munby [American Airlines Theatre, New York. 1 October].

*These examples adhere to style rules in Harvard Cite Them Right 10th edition