Students and researchers use the MLA writing style in academic writing to format their publications. Poetry is often used as a research source in various disciplines.
You can use the MLA citation, to highlight the poems used in your research.
Definition: MLA poem citation
MLA poem citation refers to the format of citing poetry sources within an MLA-formatted academic paper. Use a slash (/) to separate individual lines when quoting a poem and mention the poet’s name within the text or after the quote within parentheses. Where specified, use line or page numbers to show the location of the quote.1
The Works Cited section should show a detailed description of your sources, including poetry. To cite a poem in the Works Cited area, mention the source of the poem, such as a website blog or a book.2
How to cite a poem in MLA
Use quotation marks if you’re citing one line or part of a single line. When you’re quoting more than one line, MLA poem citation provides the following formats:
|How to cite a poem in MLA when quoting 2 to 3 lines|
|MLA poem citation for quoting two or more lines, show line breaks with a forward slash. Add a space on either side of the slash and ensure you are consistent with the capitalization and punctuation for both the quotation and the main text.3|
|How to cite a poem in MLA when quoting 4 or more lines|
|Introduce a block quote with a sentence marked off with a colon and begin your quotation on an indented new line, without quotation marks from the left margin with a half-inch indent.
Maintain the original formatting as much as possible, and keep the line breaks as formatted.4
How to cite a poem in MLA – In-text citation
When generating MLA poem citation within the text, state the writer’s last name in line with the Works Cited page. Clearly indicate the title of each poem by the same author.5
|Line numbers and page numbers in MLA in-text citations|
|For poems that have line numbers, maintain the numbering as you write your in-text citation to make it easier to find the quote. Add a coma and include the word 'line' for the first citation.|
|How to cite a poem in MLA with no line numbers|
|Where a source doesn't have numbers to show lines, state the page number rather than counting the lines manually.|
|How to cite a poem in MLA with no page numbers|
|Poems from sources such as websites may not have page numbers; in such a case, just mention the poet's name.6|
|Consecutive citations of the same poem|
|Include the author's name in the first citation alone. You can illustrate later citations with page numbers if available so long as the context is maintained in line with the poem.|
How to cite a poem in MLA – Works Cited entry
For poetry sources, use quotation marks to state the poem’s title preceded by the name of the poet. Use the various formats as follows:
Poem in a book
|Last name of the Author, First Name. "Title of Poem." Book's Title, Publisher, Year of Publish, Page numbers(s)|
|MLA Works Cited Entry:|
|Paulson, Allen. "Rainbow." Rainbow: Poetry 1986-1997, J. G. Mason, 2006, p.43.|
|MLA In-text citation:|
Poem in an anthology
How to cite a poem in MLA where a poem is included in an edited series:
Use the format above but include the editors’ names.
|Last name of the Author, First Name. "Title of Poem." Book's Title, edited by First name of Editor, Last name, Year of Publish, Page numbers(s).|
|MLA Works Cited Entry|
|Fincher, David. "The Golden Hawk." The Book of Modern Poems, edited by Peter Drury and Simon Stein, Kiwi Books, 1976, pp. 145-167.|
|MLA in-text citation:|
Poem on a website
For poems sourced from websites, state the website’s name and URL. Include the date of publishing if it is known, or use the date of access if you can’t find the publishing date.
|Last name of author, First name. "Title of Poem." Original year of publication. Name of Website, Day Month Year, URL.|
|MLA Works Cited entry:|
|Fincher, David. "A Nightmare in The Sea." 1964. Voices of Poetry, www.voicesofpoetry,org/catalogue/45657/a-nightmare-in-the-sea. Accessed 12 April 2012.|
|MLA in-text citation:|
Poems are cited in MLA style by including details such as the poet’s name, publication date, and the source’s name. There are several rules when citing poems from books, websites, and other sources.
A block quote is a quotation of more than 4 lines in a poetry source. It is introduced by a sentence and is usually indented from the margin.
Line numbers should be written for in-text poem citations. Use the introductory word “line” to illustrate the line number.
You should not count the lines manually where lines don’t have numbering. State the page numbers instead.
1 Purdue Writing Lab.”MLA Formatting Quotations.” Purdue University. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_quotations.html.
2 Turney, Grace. “How to Cite a Poem in MLA.” EasyBib. May 18, 2021. https://www.easybib.com/guides/citation-guides/how-do-i-cite-a/poem/.
3 Betts, Jennifer. “Tips on Citing a Poem in MLA Style.” Bibliography.com. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.bibliography.com/how-to/tips-on-citing-a-poem-in-mla-style/.
4 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “Citing Poetry In MLA Style.” September 15, 2022. https://irsc.libguides.com/mla/citingpoetry.
5 Columbia College. “MLA Citation Guide (9th Edition): Poetry.” December 12, 2022. https://columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/MLA9/poetry.
6 MLA Style Center. “How do I cite an online poem with no line numbers?” December 15, 2020. https://style.mla.org/web-site-poem-no-line-numbers/.
7 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “MLA Style.” August 18, 2021. https://libguides.uww.edu/mla/intext.
8 Spirko, Jennifer. “How to Cite Poems Found Online in MLA Style.” Pen & the Pad. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://penandthepad.com/cite-poems-found-online-mla-style-2115.html.