It is common in literature classes to write papers about plays, such as the works of famous playwrights like Shakespeare, Ibsen and Sophocles, to name just a few. When writing about plays, as well as all works of literature, it is important to know the guidelines of how to properly write the titles when referring to them in your paper and listing them in the works cited page. Knowing how to write a play is one thing, but knowing how to mention plays in a paper is another. Since papers about literature are typically written in MLA format, you should know the MLA rules for writing play titles.
1. Determine the Length of the Play
Determine the length of the play. The rules for titles of literature depend on the length of the work, and a plays can vary greatly in length. A play that consists of only one act is considered a short play, while a play that has more than one act is considered a long play.
2. Use Quotation Marks
Place the titles of one-act plays in quotation marks. MLA calls for titles of short works, such as articles and short poems, to be put in quotation marks. One-act plays fall in this category.
3. Italicize the Title
Italicize the title of longer plays. MLA calls for the title of longer works, such as books and films, to be italicized. Plays longer than one act are considered long works and should be italicized.
Don't underline the title of longer plays. Underlining used to be an acceptable form of writing titles for longer works, but MLA recently changed this and now allows on italicizing.
David Boyles is a graduate student, teacher and professional writer. He has been teaching writing since 2005, while his own work has been featured in various publications and websites, including "Vegas Seven," "ArtsVegas," "AZ on the Scene Magazine" and the "Las Vegas Review of Books." Boyles holds a master's degree in English literature.