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MLA Style Guide


Bibliography: Verse / Drama

If you quote a statement from one character in a play, the rules are the same as with any long direct quote. If the reference is four lines or shorter when you write or type it out, insert it within the text of your paper using quotation marks. If it is longer than four lines, indent it one inch or ten spaces from the left hand margin and do not use quotation marks.

Modern Drama

In modern drama, cite your reference by using the author's last name and the page number or numbers.


In The Glass Menagerie the reader sees Jim, the 'gentleman caller, 'slowly drawing Laura Wingfield out of the cocoon she has built around herself. When he accidentally breaks Laura's favorite glass animal, her response demonstrates Laura's new-found assuredness: "Oh, I don't have favorites - (Pause) much. It's no tragedy. Glass breaks so easily.  No matter how careful you are. The traffic jars the shelves and things fall off them" (Williams 613).

This tells the reader that the author of the play is Tennessee Williams, and that the passage is from page 613.

Classic Drama

In classic drama (Shakespeare, for example) the lines, as in poetry, are separated within your text by a slash (/).  For in-text citation of a classic play do not use page numbers.  Instead, cite by using the title of the play, the act, scene, and line numbers, with periods and one space separating the various numbers. Instructors may prefer the use of Arabic (King Lear 4. 1. 52-53) or Roman numerals (King Lear IV. i.52-53).


Macbeth demonstrates his continued belief in the witches' prophecies when he exclaims: "They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly / But, bearlike, I must fight the course.  What's he / that was not born of woman?  Such a one / Am I to fear, or none" (5. 7. 1-4).

This tells the reader the passage is from Act 5, Scene 7, lines 1-4.

*** - The play title is not mentioned in the in-text citation because the name of the character quoted (Macbeth) is the same as the title of the play itself, and is thus self-explanatory.

If you quote a passage from a play that is a dialogue between two or more characters, set the quotation one inch or ten spaces from the left margin of your text.  Begin each part of dialogue with the appropriate character's name in all capital letters: MACBETH or LAURA. Follow the name with a period and two spaces, then start the quotation.  Indent all remaining lines of that character's speech three more spaces.


Macbeth's doubts begin to surface immediately after he murders Duncan:
MACBETH. This is a sorry sight. [Looking at his hands]
LADY MACBETH. A foolish thought to say a sorry sight.
MACBETH. There's one did laugh in sleep, and one cried “Murder!'
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them;
But they did say their prayers, and addressed them. 
Again to sleep.  (2. 2. 21-26)

This tells the reader that the quotation is from Act 2, Scene 2, lines 21-26.


Even in the following rather simplistic scene between Tom and his mother Amanda, the difference in their personalities is clearly shown:

TOM. All right, I'll guess. You want to know when the gentleman caller's coming - he's coming tomorrow.
AMANDA. Tomorrow? Oh, no, I can't do anything about tomorrow. I can't do anything about tomorrow.
TOM. Why not?
AMANDA. That doesn't give me any time.
TOM. Time for what?
AMANDA. Time for preparations. Oh, you should have phoned me the minute you asked him - the minute he accepted.
TOM. You don't have to make any fuss.
AMANDA. Of course, I have to make a fuss!
TOM. Mother! This boy is no one to make a fuss over.  
(Williams 591)

This tells the reader that Williams is the author and the quote is from page 591.

*** - The line of spaced periods approximately as long as the quoted lines from the play shows that a line or lines have been omitted from the text of the play.

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