How to Cite a Play in APA, MLA, or Chicago

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You can cite a play as either a live performance or script.

Citing a Live Performance

EasyBib has a form to cite a performance that has been viewed live. For instructions on how to cite a live performance, visit this guide on citing Hamilton the musical in MLA, APA, and Chicago.

Citing a Play Script

If you are citing a play found as an entire source, cite it as a book (and use our book citation form).

MLA Format (9th edition)



(Playwright last name page#)

Works Cited:

Playwright last name, First name. Play Title. Publisher, edition (if applicable), publication year.


(Hwang 22)

Hwang, David Henry. M Butterfly. Plume, 1989.

APA 7 Format

If you’re merely paraphrasing or discussing a play in general terms, you’re not required to use a page number or other locator. But if you directly quote a play script, you must include a location for the relevant passage. For plays, this often means including a page number(s).

However, some plays use books, chapters, verses, lines, or cantos to distinguish specific parts of a play. The examples below include citations for both a modern play script with a page number and a play by Shakespeare with an act, scene, and line number.

(Since Shakespeare’s works appear in republications, there are two years in the source citations: the original publication year/the republication year).



(Playwright last name, year, p. page#)

           (Playwright last name, year, Act#.Scene#.Line#)


Playwright last name, First initials. (Year published). Play Title. Publisher.

           Playwright last name, First initial. (Year of republished play). Classic Play Title. (First initials. Last Name, Ed.). Publisher. (Original work published Year)


(Hwang, 1989, p. 22)

Hwang, D. H. (1989). M butterfly. Plume.

          (Shakespeare, 1603/2008, 1.4.5)

Shakespeare, W. (2008). Hamlet (S. Greenblatt, Ed.). W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (Original work published 1603)

Chicago Format


Author-Date Format In-text:

(Playwright Last Name Publication Year, page#)

         (Playwright Last Name Publication Year, Act#.Scene#.Line#)

Author-Date Format Reference:

Playwright Last Name, First Name. Publication Year. Play Title. City: Publisher.

Playwright last name, First Name. Publication Year. Classic Play Title, edited by First Name Last Name. City: Publisher.

Note Format:

  1. Playwright First Name Last Name, Play Title (City: Publisher, Year), page #.
  2. Classic Play Title, ed. Editor First Name Last Name. (City: Publisher, Year), Act#.Scene#.Line#. References are to act, scene, and line.

Bibliography Format:

Playwright Last Name, First name. Play Title. City: Publisher, Year.

          Classic Play Title. Edited by First Name Last Name. Edition Details. City: Publisher, Year.



(Hwang 1989, 22)

           (Shakespeare 1603, 1.4.5)

Hwang, David Henry. 1989. M Butterfly. New York: Plume.

           Shakespeare, William. 2004. Hamlet, edited by Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House.


  1. David Henry Hwang, M Butterfly (New York: Plume, 1989), 22.
  2. Hamlet, ed. Harold Bloom. (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004), 1.4.5. References are to act, scene, and line.


Hwang, David Henry. M Butterfly. New York: Plume, 1989.

         Hamlet. Edited by Harold Bloom. Major Literary Characters, 1st ser. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004.


Updated July 10, 2022.


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