How to Cite a Play From a Textbook

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An ability to think critically is one of the major qualities educators try to instill in students. A student who can gather information, analyze it intelligently and draw useful conclusions has gained a powerful life skill. Part of this process is learning how to organize the information you've gathered and marshal it in support of your analysis. This means citing the works you've drawn information from, so other scholars can review the source material and assess how well it supports your conclusions. Unless a different style is specified, use the Modern Language Association's MLA Handbook.

  • Begin with the surname of the play's author, then the given name. If the play is "Macbeth," for example, you would start the citation with "Shakespeare, William." Add a period after the name. Leave out the quotation marks -- in this and all examples that follow.

  • Quote the title of the play as the second element in the citation -- for example, "Shakespeare, William. Macbeth." Add another period at the end and italicize the title.

  • List the title of the textbook it's drawn from. This will also be italicized, and have a period at the end. The example citation so far reads: "Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The eHow Guide to Elizabethan Theater."

  • Add the name of the editor or editors, but in this case give the first name first. If there are more than one editor of the textbook, give the full name of the first author and then follow it with the phrase "et al," which means "and others." The citation so far reads: "Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. The eHow Guide to Elizabethan Theater. Ima Doolittle, et al."

  • Start a second line for the citation, indented one tab stop farther than the first. This line is for the publisher information, including the publisher's name, their location and the date of publication. Our example now reads:

    "Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. A Fictional Guide to Elizabethan Theater. Ima Doolittle, et al.

     Boston: Mythical Publications, 2011."
  • Finish the citation by providing the page numbers where this play can be found. The completed citation now reads:

    "Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. A Fictional Guide to Elizabethan Theater. Ima Doolittle, et al.

     Boston: Mythical Publications, 2011. 727-778." 

    Remember that the title of the play and the textbook should be italicized, and the second line should be indented.

Tips & Warnings

  • If there are multiple editions of the textbook, include the edition information between the title of the textbook and its editor, without italicizing it.
  • Many online guides provide additional examples of this and similar types of citations.

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References

  • Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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