How to cite a play in APA

APA play citation

To cite a play in a reference entry in APA style 6th edition include the following elements:

  1. Author(s) of the play: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to seven authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For eight or more authors include the first six names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
  2. Year of publication: Give the year in brackets followed by a full stop.
  3. Title of the play: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  4. Place of publication: List the city and the US state using the two-letter abbreviation. Spell out country names if outside of the UK or the USA.
  5. Publisher: Give the name of the publisher but omit terms, such as Publishers, Co., and Inc. Retain the words Books and Press.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a play in APA style 6th edition:

Author(s) of the play. (Year of publication). Title of the play. Place of publication: Publisher.

APA reference list examples

Take a look at our reference list examples that demonstrate the APA style guidelines for a play citation in action:


A play with one author

Williams, T. (2009). Cat on a hot tin roof. London, England: Penguin Classics.

A play with two authors

Manoussi, J., & Timmory, G. (1902). Un beau marriage. Paris, France:Librairie Théâtrale.

APA in-text citations

APA-style in-text citations for plays follow the standard author-date format used for other mediums like books.

In practice, using one of the examples of plays from above, an in-text citation will look like this:

Similar to his other works, Cat on a hot tin roof explores the theme of the broken man (Williams, 2009).

When citing plays, you can expand on the in-text citation by adding the act, scene, and line number at the end of the citation. Take a look at this example:


In-text citation of a play including act, scene and line numbers

This passage of Hamlet is essential to establishing the resolve in Gertrude's character (Shakespeare, trans. 1992, 1.2.70-72).

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This citation style guide is based on the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition).

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