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How To Cite Poems: The Basic Rules

When it comes to writing assignments in literature, they may require some specific skills, for example, you should know how to cite a poem. It is difficult to imagine writing a paper about a poet without giving examples and quoting some pieces of poetry.

Some referencing formats don’t have specific regulations for poetry citations. However, other styles do have the rules for citing poems. Therefore, we should take a detailed look at them.

Citing poems in MLA

There are two types of poetry quotes in MLA: short (up to three lines) and long (longer than three lines).

Here is what to do when it comes to a short quote:

  1. It doesn’t require a new line.
  2. Quotation marks are a must.
  3. A slash is supposed to indicate line breaks.
  4. Use capital letters for each line.

Here is what to do when it comes to a long quote:

  1. A new line is a must when you start.
  2. Put the citation in a blockquote, recreating line breaks according to the original.
  3. Keep the original punctuation.
  4. Double space the quote.
  5. Skip any slashes or quotation marks.

Citing poems in APA

APA  format also covers the basic rules for poem citations and the recommendations seem to be similar. Pay attention to several rules:

  1. Short quotes (no longer than 40 words) require quotation marks.
  2. Don’t start on a new line, if you are going to use a short citation.
  3. A slash is aimed to identify line breaks.
  4. Long quotes (more than 40 words) require block citations.
  5. A block citation always means a new line, and there is no need to use slashes or quotation marks here.

Citing poems in different formats can be challenging and time-consuming, therefore, always read your course’s guidelines and check the quotes for correct formatting before submitting your writing assignment.


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