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How to Format Quotes From "Hamlet" in MLA Format

by Amy Adkins , Demand Media

    William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays over his lifetime. "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" -- or simply "Hamlet" -- is among the most recognizable of all his plays. Numerous studies of "Hamlet" have been conducted by students and scholars. Modern Language Association style provides guidance on the writing and documentation of research related to the humanities, literature and language. The "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" (7th edition) prescribes how plays like "Hamlet" should be quoted and referenced within the paper.

    Short Quotes

    Step 1

    Introduce short quotes with a reference to the character or play. Short quotes are those that are three or fewer lines of verse when typed out.

    Step 2

    Enclose short quotes in quotation marks and separate the verses with slash marks (/). Leave one space on either side of the slash. Include any punctuation that is originally in the verse. For example: Horatio says of the ghost: "And then it started like a guilty thing / Upon a fearful summons"

    Step 3

    Follow the quote with a reference to the act, scene and lines from which it was taken. Enclose the information in parentheses. Insert a period after the act and scene, with no spaces between. Include a period after the citation. For example: Horatio says of the ghost: "And then it started like a guilty thing / Upon a fearful summons" (1.1.148).

    Long Quotes

    Step 1

    Indent verse longer than three lines 1 inch from the left margin. Lead in or introduce the long quote.

    Step 2

    Include any punctuation that is originally in the verse.

    Step 3

    Reference the act, scene and lines following the quote. Enclose the information in parentheses. Insert a period after the act and scene, with no space between. Do not include a period after the citation. For example: Polonius and the King speak of Hamlet's state of mind: Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege, I hold my duty, as I hold my soul, Both to my God and to my gracious king: And I do think, or else this brain of mine Hunts not the trail of policy so sure As it hath used to do, that I have found The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy. (2.2.43-49)

    Dialogue

    Step 1

    Indent dialogue between two characters 1 inch from the left margin. Type the character's name in capital letters, followed by a period. For example: HAMLET. CLAUDIUS.

    Step 2

    Insert one space after the period and add the dialogue. Include any punctuation contained in the original dialogue -- for example: HAMLET. A little more than kin, and less than kind. CLAUDIUS. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

    Step 3

    End the dialogue by referencing the act, scene and lines. Enclose each in parentheses. Insert a period after the act and scene, with no space between. Do not include a period after the citation. For example: HAMLET. A little more than kin, and less than kind. CLAUDIUS. How is it that the clouds still hang on you? (1.2.65-66)

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    About the Author

    Based in Omaha, Neb., Amy Adkins has been a professional writer and editor since 2001. She writes primarily on the topic of health and health care and has experience in marketing communications, public relations, corporate communication and technical writing. She received her Master of Arts degree in communication from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

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