How to Cite Shakespeare in APA Format

The American Psychological Association established APA format for papers to create consistency among publications and documents and to create easier reading. Writers must properly indicate the source of borrowed words and ideas to avoid plagiarism and lend credibility to their work. Although papers with topics in language and literature often use a different style, writers may want to reference Shakespeare in an APA paper for an essay in psychology, social science, criminal justice, business or nursing.


The in-text citation indicates the author of the quote or idea and the date of publication. According to The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), you should use the translation date for Shakespeare's works. APA quotes typically also give a page number to help the reader find the original source. Quotes from plays should instead use the act, scene and line or lines instead of page numbers, so a citation from Act I, Scene 2, lines 4 and 5 might look like this: (Shakespeare, trans. 1996, 1.2.4-5). A quote from one of his poems would look similar since poetry citations give line numbers rather than pages: (Shakespeare, trans. 1996, 33-35). Place the end punctuation after the parentheses.


The References page at the end of the paper lists all the sources you cited in the essay. Put the Shakespeare entry alphabetically among any other entries. The entry begins with the author's last name followed by first initial and then the translation date in parentheses. Give the title of the play, italicized, or the name of the poem, in quotation marks. List the editor or editors of the particular piece you used next, using only first initials, followed by "Ed." or "Eds." (without the quotation marks) to indicate this is an editor. Type the city of publication, a colon and then the publishing company with a period at the end of the entry. (See Reference 2)

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