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Ultimate Guideline Explaining How To Cite A Poem

how to cite a poem

While being a student, one should be ready to prepare dozens of assignments. It is especially true for students of Arts, English, and Literature classes. Writing skills are significant to enjoy success in these disciplines. One such skill is a proper quotation that a young author is expected to use in a variety of papers. Among the most common essays are reflective, argumentative, descriptive, compare & contrast, critical thinking, etc. During working on these types of papers, your skills in citing poems and books will be just perfect. To place a quotation means to mention direct words of the poet in your assignment.

A poem is not only a stunning artwork; it is also a great way to make your research paper, thesis, or any other college assignment more appealing for a target audience. The main challenge you may encounter while using nice lines in your project is a correct citing of the source. The poem can be found in a book, anthology, or online. That’s why you need to know how to cite a poem and save your academic reputation from all possible Plagiarism related issues. There are a few styles that students usually use for their documents formatting. Let’s look at the most common rules that will help you cite the sources correctly.

How to Cite a Poem: Everything That You Need to Know

As with any other artwork, citing poems has particular requirements that differ slightly from ordinary text. Discover them right now:

  • Whenever you are eager to use a phrase or quote from an online or published edition, you need to use citation. Otherwise, you risk being accused of Plagiarism, hence spoiling your academic reputation;
  • Admit that the words that were borrowed are crucial for your overall paper;
  • A poem title goes in quotation marks and must not be underlined;
  • In case you paraphrase a part of the text, you shouldn’t use quotation marks, instead put in-text citation when the idea is finished;
  • It is better to delete the lines that are not important for your content rather than include the entire text and make the readers feel confused;
  • You should follow the rules of one definite style while citing the poem.

How to Cite a Poem in Different Styles?

As has been mentioned above, the way you will cite the poem depends on the chosen style. The most common ones are MLA, Chicago, and APA. Here are the main peculiarities of citing poems in these styles.


Modern Language Association (MLA) requires performing such steps while citing a poem:

  1. Place the poet’s last name at the very beginning. Then put a comma and write the first name. If the author uses some special initials, keep to them. For instance: Davies, W. H.
  2. Use quotation marks for writing a title. You should write the title of the poem in quotation marks, remembering about capitalizing adverbs, nouns, verbs, pronouns. A period must go last. For instance: Elliot, T.S. “Growltiger’s Last Stand.”
  3. A place where you have picked up the poem must come in italics. If the poem was found online, you should type the webpage title. In case it comes from an anthology or book, you need to include the book title. If the editor’s name is mentioned, you should cite it as well. The editor’s name or a book must be followed by a comma. Example from an online source: Ginsberg, Allen. “Howl.” Poetry Foundation.
  4. Include publication information. If you use print publication, then do not forget to add the edition number and then put a comma. Next, the name of the publisher and year goes. The online publication should include a direct URL to the used work and a period. For example, Engle, Margarita.”Drum Dream Girl.” Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/141837/drum-dream-girl.
  5. Add page numbers or the date accessed. You should direct the readers to the page with a used poem if it is published in anthologies or collections. Such abbreviations as “pp.” or “p.” are used. The page number must be followed by a period. In case of citing an online poem, you need to type the “accessed” word and the date that you read the poem for the last time. For example, Engle, Margarita.”Drum Dream Girl.” Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/141837/drum-dream-girl. Accessed 5 Nov.2020.
  6. Mention the author’s name in parenthetical citations throughout the text. According to the MLA style, you need to mention the author’s name and the page number for internal citations. It is allowed to miss a page number and include only the poet’s name if you are citing the poem that is found online. No punctuation inside the parenthetical is allowed. The closing mark must be followed by a period. For example: (Engle 20).


American Psychological Association (APA) also has its own peculiarities when it comes to citing a poem. Mind them if you want to present top-quality paper:

  1. Start a full reference entry with a poet’s name. You need to place the poet’s last name at the very beginning and then put a comma. After, the first initial of the author’s name goes. It is required to use the poet’s name even if there is an editor’s name. For example, Elliot, T.
  2. Mention a year of the publication in the parentheses. The author’s name must be followed by a year of publication. Next, the period goes—for example, Elliot, T. (1971). In case you are citing an online poem, and there is no year when it was published, you need to write the abbreviation “n.d.”. For instance: Engle, M. (n.d.).
  3. A single-author collection must be italicized. In case you are citing the poem that is published in the collection written by the same author, you should cite the entire book rather than a single work. You should capitalize the first word in the title and other proper nouns. The last editor’s name must be also included. The citation ends with a period. For example, Elliot, T.(1905). A Fable for Feasters (A.Butt, Ed.).
  4. Add the poem’s title if it is in an anthology. In case the poem that you are citing is included in the book with poems of other poets, then you should type its title in a sentence-case. The title ends with a period. After, put “in”, first initial, and editor’s last name. Put a comma, type the anthology title in italics, and mention a page number. A closing parentheses mark is followed by a period. For example, Cleverland, J. (1972). To the state of love. In H. Gardner (Ed.), The metaphysical poets (pp.218-220).
  5. The title of online poems must come in italics. The title of work that is found online should go along with the date of publication. It must be typed in a sentence-case, with the first capitalized word and other proper nouns. The title is finished with a period. For example, Engle, M. (n.d.) The Life of a Digger.
  6. Add publication data to the source. It is required to mention the place and name of the publisher for print sources. A period comes at the end. In case you are citing a poem that is found online, you should write “Retrieved from” with a direct URL. Avoid placing a poem at the URL end. For example, Engle, M. (n.d.) The Life of a Digger. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/141839/the-life-of-a-digger.
  7. Include the author’s name and date. Parenthetical citation in-text must contain a poet’s name as well as the date of publication. Usually, the title or quotation is followed by the citation. Avoid mentioning the author’s name in case it is stated in the text already. For example: In Praise Song for the Day (Alexander, 2009), the poet writes a poem for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. In case there is no date, but the abbreviation “n.d.”. For example, Counting (Engle, n.d.), the poet is talking about urban life.


Chicago is another popular style that comes with its own citing requirements. Check them out here:

  1. Mention the poet’s last name as first in the bibliography. You should type the last name of the poet in the bibliography and then put the comma. After, a full name with a period is typed. In case the writer is widely-known exactly with the initials, then they also must be mentioned in the entry. For example Robert, Engle.
  2. Use quotation marks for writing the title. Remember to capitalize most words avoiding “the” “a” until they are not the first in the title. A period must finish the title within the closing quotation marks. For example, Engle, Margarita. “Meeting Point.”
  3. Add data about the volume. Mention the title of the collection or anthology in italics, where the discussed poem is found. Put a comma after the title, and mention a page number. Next, the period goes. For example, Frost, Robert “Tuft of Flowers” In A Boy’s Will of Robert Frost, 100. Pay attention that the Chicago Manual doesn’t include any instructions on how to cite a poem that is found online. Hence, you are recommended to ask your teacher for the preference on citing online poems.
  4. Publication information goes last. The publisher’s location, followed by the colon and publishing company name, is listed next. After, you are expected to mention the publishing year. Do not forget to place a period after the page. For example, Frost, Robert. “A Servant to Servants” In North of Boston of Robert Frost, edited by David Nutt, 223-224. New York: Holt, 1914.
  5. Formatting in-text footnotes. You should begin with the first and the last name of the poet. Commas are used instead of periods, and the citation is finished with a page number. The information about the publication is placed in parentheses—mind to put a period at the end of the footnote. For example, Robert Frost, “Home Burial” In North of Boston of Robert Frost (New York: Holt, Nutt, 1914), 101.

Top Tips on How to Cite a Poem

Look at some nice tricks and tips on how to cite a poem correctly. They will be helpful despite your experience in poem citing, as well as used formatting style:

  1. Read the whole poem a few times to make sure that you’ve got the author’s message correctly. Afterward, you need to decide what line you want to use in your own paper.
  2. Put down a few words, mentioning why you want to use exactly this line, what message it delivers and how it is connected with your paper.
  3. It is not obligatory to use the whole poem in your project. You can cite the beginning and the end, omitting middle lines. Also, you are free to write two quotations.
  4. Do not use too many quotations in the essay. Consider rephrasing for sharing other viewpoints. Additionally, it is your work, so you should not completely rely on the words of other people.
  5. Together with editing and reviewing the entire document, you should pay special attention to correct formatting and appropriate citing usage.
  6. Consider embedded quotes. In this case, you can use them as part of your own sentences in different paper paragraphs.


Now you know how to cite a poem in different styles and avoid possible plagiarism–related issues. As with any other skill, you need to practice a lot before you can cite easily and correctly. This guide will help you achieve the best result. It includes essential tips and main rules on how to cite a poem. 

Choose the set of rules of a definite formatting style depending on your teacher’s requirements, and study them carefully. Devote some time to practice and gain new skills. 

But if you have some uncertainties or doubts, you can approach a professional writing company and ask for help. Until you become an expert in citing poems, experienced writers will assist you with your paper’s correct formatting. In simpler words, you do not have to check numerous examples and websites to get the highest grade. 

Once you place an order, you can breathe with relief and be sure about overall success. Placing a quotation will make your paper look more professional, but only if you do it correctly! That’s why it is better not to waste time and cooperate with the experts at once.