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How to Cite Quotes From the Play "Romeo & Juliet" in MLA Format


A well written paper does not guarantee a good grade if the original text is not cited properly. A strong essay about Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" requires thoughtful analysis of the text and citing the source material to establish your argument is often necessary. The Modern Language Association, or the MLA, has very specific standards for citing Shakespearean verse in academic papers. Quotes that are not properly cited could be mistaken for plagiarism, and it's important to learn how to reference the quotes properly.

In-Text Citations

Write the title of the work and the location of the quotation in parentheses after each quote. If none of this information is given in the text before the quote, then this information should be formatted: (Play. Act number. Scene number. Verse numbers). For example, if you are using text from Act 3, Scene 1 of Romeo & Juliet, this information should be formatted: (Romeo & Juliet. 3.1.22-23).

Omit the title from the parenthetical citation if the name of the work is already known to the reader or can be inferred from context. For example if you are using text from Act 3, Scene 1 and have established that you are writing about Romeo & Juliet, this information can be formatted: (3.1.22-23)

Use only the verse numbers in parenthetical citations if your paper goes into detail about a specific section of the text. For example, if you establish that Mercutio has a long speech at the beginning of the first scene of Act 3 and you pull a quotation from that speech, the parenthetical citation can be formatted: (22-23).

Formatting Quotes

Place the quote within the text of the paragraph when using less than three lines from the play. If you are quoting more than one line from "Romeo & Juliet," indicate the line breaks with a slash, leaving a space on each side. The in-text citation should appear before the end punctuation of the sentence.

Use block quotations for quotes that are four lines or longer. Format block quotations by beginning a new line and indenting one tab to the right for each verse and maintaining the original formatting from the text. Do not use quotation marks, and precede the block quotation with a colon. In-text citations for block quotations should appear after the end punctuation of the quote.

Indent dialogue quotations to the right and adhere to the original text formatting. Indicate speech by writing the character name in all capital letters, followed by a period. The character's line follows. If the character's speech goes beyond one line, indent the next lines by another one-quarter inch.

Works Cited Page Format

Start a new page for the Works Cited. Remember that this page is part of your complete essay and should be formatted like the rest of your paper. Include page numbers, name and any other information you use to number the rest of the pages in your essay.

Title the page Works Cited in plain font. Center the title, leaving an inch-long margin at the top of the page.

Format the citation as follows if you are using a copy of Romeo & Juliet in book form:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo & Juliet (italicized). Location of publisher: Publishing company name, year of publication.

If the citation entry is longer than one line, subsequent lines should be indented and double-spaced.

Format the citation as follows if you referenced an anthology version of Romeo & Juliet:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo & Juliet (italicized). Name of anthology. Editor of anthology. Location of publisher: Publishing company name, year of publication. Page numbers of referenced material.

Note that the editor's name in the citation should be preceded by "Ed." to signify that he is the editor of the volume.

About the Author

Sorah Lee has been a freelance writer since 2005. She began her career as a copywriter for a digital media agency in Los Angeles. In 2005 Lee was nominated for the James Kirkwood Literary Prize for her short fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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