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How to Cite Stage Directions

Updated February 21, 2017

Stage directions can be found in published plays. These directions dictate the movements of actors on the stage and are written by the play's author, although a play's director can also guide actor movements on the stage. When writing a scholarly paper about a play, you might want to include a reference to the stage directions in that play. If you reference a stage direction in your paper, you need to properly cite the reference to meet academic citation guidelines.

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  1. Select a style to follow for your formatting. There are two common styles that can be followed when providing a citation for a stage direction in your paper: The Modern Language Association (MLA) format and the American Psychological Association (APA) format. The styles are similar in the type of information presented in the citation.

  2. Create your in-text reference. Within the text of the paper, your reference to the stage directions needs an attribution. For example, if your sentence refers to a stage direction sending actors offstage left, you would end the sentence with parentheses in which the author's last name is listed. For MLA style, the page number is added. For APA style, the year of publication is listed. Examples of these references are: (Author 72) and (Author 1941).

  3. Add an entry to the paper's Works Cited page, which lists works alphabetically by the author's last name. An MLA entry lists the author's last name, first initial, year of publication, title of work, city of publication and the year of publication. An APA example of a play entry in a Works Cited page is: Irving, W. (1953) A Play's New Dawn. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Note that the play's title would be underlined. For the MLA style, the year of publication goes at the end of the entry. The MLA entry for the play would be: Irving, W. A Play's New Dawn. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1953.

  4. Tip

    Keep a list of references and add to it as you conduct your research so that you have the information available when you create your Works Cited page.


    Plagiarism is taken very seriously in academic circles, and your status as a student might be in jeopardy if it is shown that you have plagiarised.

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About the Author

Doug Hewitt has been writing for over 20 years and has a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He authored the book "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," which includes health and fitness hints for parents. He and his wife, Robin, are coauthors of the "Free College Resource Book."

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