Few of Shakespeare's plays can be dated with certainty. The evidence for dating varies with the plays.

In the chronology that follows, the plays have been divided into groups rather than years, to avoid making approximations seem too definitive. While there is no doubt that there is a consistent development in Shakespeare's style and art over his lifetime, it is unwise to argue a development between plays that are in a group.

For example, the three great comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night are usually dated in that order; but there is no clear external evidence that precludes their being written in precisely the opposite order.