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ServiceScape Incorporated
2019

Everything You Need to Know About Citing A Poem

Academic study, especially in literature, will likely bring you to a moment when you'll need to cite a poem in an essay. When that happens, don't worry, we have you covered. We're going to look at citing poetry in the two most common citation styles, APA and MLA, including in-text citations and those required for footnotes/endnotes and Reference or Works Cited pages.

Citing poetry can be confusing across different citation styles.
Citing poetry can be confusing across different citation styles. Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

APA style

Although commonly used for citing sources within the field of behavioral and social sciences, APA is the style guide of the American Psychological Association (APA) and can be required for essays citing poetry.

In-text citations

For an in-text citation of a poem, APA requires that you add parentheses to the end of the quote and include the last name of the author, followed by a comma and the year of publication of the source. If you are quoting a poem that is online, you can simply use the date of publication of the poem. If you found the poem in a collection or anthology, the in-text citation should include the page number in the anthology where the poem is printed.

But we loved with a love that was more than love--

I and my Annabel Lee--

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me. (Poe, 1849)

Note that since the above quoted poem is three or more lines, it is formatted within the text like a block quote. Quotation marks are not used and the poem is written exactly as it is in the source. Also note that each line is indented and the section is double spaced, with an in-text citation placed after the final punctuation of the quote.

For poetry quotes that are a single line, this should be treated like any other quote. For example:

In his poem Annabel Lee, Poe writes "But we loved with a love that was more than love--," (1849).

Notice that the in-text citation is placed before the final punctuation and the citation only includes the date since the author (Poe) has already been mentioned.

If the poetry quote contains two lines, treat it like any other quote but include a slash mark (/) where the line breaks in the original source. For example:

The author writes, "But we loved with a love that was more than love--/I and my Annabel Lee--,"(Poe, 1849).

Reference page citation

If you found the poem in an anthology, include the poet's name, anthology publication year, poem title, editors' names, anthology name in italics, page numbers, publishing city and publisher name in the following format:

Eliot, T.S. (1970). Journey of the magi. In A. Allison and H. Barrows (Eds.), The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Third Edition) (pp. 1012-1013). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

If you found the poem on the Web, include the poet's name, year of publication, poem title, retrieval date and web address in the following format:

Poe, E., A. (1849). Annabel Lee. Retrieved, November 30, 2019, from https://poestories.com/read/annabellee

APA format is most commonly used in the social sciences, but might be required for your poetry citation by certain professors.
APA format is most commonly used in the social sciences, but might be required for your poetry citation by certain professors. Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

MLA format

Published by the Modern Language Association (MLA), the MLA style is often used for English studies, modern languages and literatures, literary criticism, and media studies.

In-text citations

For an in-text citation of a poem, MLA requires that you add parentheses to the end of the quote and include the last name of the author. However, this is where the similarity to APA style ends. After stating the name of the author, you'll need to include a comma followed by line numbers of the poem quotes. If there are no line numbers in the text, include the page number where the poem was found. Note that if you go this route, there is no comma in between the author's last name and the page number.

But we loved with a love that was more than love--

I and my Annabel Lee--

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me. (Poe, lines 1-4)

Note that since the above quoted poem is three or more lines, it is formatted within the text like a block quote. Quotation marks are not used and the poem is written exactly as it is in the source. Also note that each line is indented and the section is double spaced, with an in-text citation placed after the final punctuation of the quote.

As with APA style, for poetry quotes that are a single line, this should be treated like any other quote. For example:

In his poem Annabel Lee, Poe writes "But we loved with a love that was more than love--," (line 1).

Notice that the in-text citation is placed before the final punctuation and the citation only includes the line number since the author (Poe) has already been mentioned.

If the poetry quote contains two lines, treat it like any other quote but include a slash mark (/) where the line breaks in the original source. For example:

The author writes, "But we loved with a love that was more than love--/I and my Annabel Lee--,"(Poe, lines 3-4).

Reference page citation

For the reference page or works cited page, include the poet's name, the name of the poem in quotation marks, anthology name, names of editors, publishing company, date of publication, and page number where the poem is found. Here's an example:

Poe, Edgar Allan. "Annabelle Lee." The Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited by A. Allison and H. Barrows, W.W. Norton & Company, 1970, p. 697.

If you found the poem on a website, include the author's last name, author's first name, name of the poem in quotation marks, the name of the website, the website's URL, and the date it was accessed. Here's an example:

Poe, Edgar Allan. "Annabel Lee." Poe Stories, https://poestories.com/read/annabellee. Accessed November 30, 2019.

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