How to Cite a Poem- The Best Guide Ever

“How to cite a poem?”- This one question takes away the night’s sleep of many students. There are so many types of referencing styles that it becomes too overwhelming for students. Among them, referencing poems is considered as the most confusing one. Seriously what to remember and what not? Need not to be worried as this blog presents the ultimate guide to clear all your doubts on how to cite a poem. Read on to know how you can carry out this job like a pro.

Using quotes about poetry in essays is a common technique applied by everyone to elevate the quality of the content. At first, let’s make it clear that you will not learn how to cite poems in a blink of an eye, but with time and practice, it will as smooth as icing on the cake. So let’s get into it right away.

How to Cite a Poem- The Best Guide Ever

How to cite lines from a poem in different referencing styles?

There are different types of referencing styles. It can be of various kinds, but the major types are as follows:

Let us now see how you should cite the poem in the different referencing styles.

How to cite a poem in MLA?

In-text– At first, you must learn how to quote a poem line. When you take few lines from a poem, you have to use double quotation marks before and after it. Separate each line with a slash(/).

Example: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,/And sorry I could not travel both”

When you quote many lines or a large part of the poem, you must separate it from your text and start with a new paragraph. It must have a two-inch indentation from the left, and there must be double spacing between each line. You should use the lines as exactly as they are in the original text. However, no quotation marks or slashes are required here.

Example:        Then took the other, as just as fair,

                        And having perhaps the better claim,

                        Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

                        Though as for that the passing there

                        Had worn them really about the same,

                        And both that morning equally lay

                        In leaves, no step had trodden black.

In both cases, the lines will have the in-text citation at the end, where you put the last name of the author along with page number. There will not be any comma (,) in between. There are different types of poem formats according to which the content of the citation change like, if it is a verse, you will write the line number instead of the page no.

Example: Of all the things that happened there/ That’s all I remember (Cullen 11-12)

You should also know how to cite in an essay. There are various ways to do this; you can either mention the author’s name in the sentence before quoting the poem lines or you can straight get into the lines as shown above.

Example: In ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, Robert Frost says, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,/ But I have promises to keep,/And miles to go before I sleep.” (13-15).

Apart from this, you can also include the name of the poem in case you are using two poems by the same author or many writers with the same name. To create the in-text citation, use the last name of the author, put a comma (,), the title of the poem or a concise version of it within quotation marks, include a space, followed by the line numbers.

Example: Romanticism is witnessed in many poems of the 18th century, lines like “When all at once I saw a crowd,/A host, of golden daffodils;” (Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” 3-4), and “These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs/With a soft inland murmur.—Once again” (Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey” 3-4) portrays its essence.

Always remember that the punctuation will come before the parenthesis and within the quotes, only the punctuation which is present in the original text will be there. When paraphrasing the lines, you have to provide a citation. You have to use the quotations in a way that it fits the proper essay format and does not look like out of context.

Work cited page- After you have written the content, you need to create the works cited section. For this, you have to start with a new page. Here you will write the full detailed reference of the source. It will go in the following order, Last name of the author, comma (,), First name, full stop (.), the poem’s title with a full stop at end (.) within double quotation marks, the name of the book in italics, place of publication: name of the publisher, year. Page number. Medium of publication.

Example: Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. “How do I love thee?.” The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. London: Wordsworth Editions, 2015. 14. Print.

In case of a poem found on a website, you must use the following format:

Last name of the poet, First name of the poet. “Name of the poem.” Website name, The institution name which is linked to the website, publication date if available, URL (excluding the http:// or https://)


Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

You should also remember that each reference must have a hanging indent.

Citing poems in APA

The APA or American Psychological Association is one of the common referencing styles used in academic writing. You need to follow different formatting rules while citing a poem in this style.

If you are wondering how to quote in an essay, then know that it follows the same rule as MLA.

However, while citing the sources you need to follow a different technique.

In-text- As mentioned above, after the quoted lines the citation come which will include the last name of the author, the publishing year of the book, comma (,) and the page number. Sometimes the page number is omitted in this style, but it is suggested to include the page number/s especially while paraphrasing any lines from a poem.

Example: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways./I love thee to the depth and breadth and height” (Browning, 2015, p.14)

Or you can cite it in the following way:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2015) expressed her love for her husband through the poem, ‘How Do I Love Thee’ which begins like this: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways./
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/ My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight” (p.14).

Reference list– This list will begin from a new page and have the heading, “Reference List”. Here also, the references will have the hanging indent. It will follow the order: author’s last name, initial of the first name. Publishing year within the parentheses. Poem title. Book name (page number). Location: Publisher.


Browning, E.B. (2015). How do I love thee?. The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (pp.14). London: Wordsworth Editions.

In case of an online source, you have to add the words ‘retrieved from’ before the URL.


Frost, R. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation.

Citing Poems in Harvard

In this style also, the lines of the poem will be quoted in the same way as MLA and APA. This style is much similar compared to APA style. The in-text and bibliography are almost same in the case of Harvard.

In-text– Here too, you will include the citation at the end of the quotation, which will include the last name of the author, the publishing year, and the page number/s.

Example- “Some say the world will end in fire.” (Frost, 1969, p.1)


Robert Frost (1969) says in his poem ‘Fire and Ice’, “Some say the world will end in fire.” (p.1).

Bibliography– In the bibliography or reference list, you have to present the book in which the poem has been issued.

You have to follow the same order as APA only that the year will not be within the parentheses.


Browning, E.B., 2015. How do I love thee?. The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (pp.14). London: Wordsworth Editions.

For an online source, use the words, available at before the URL and here, the year will be in within the parentheses.


Frost, R. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation.

So, this is how you can cite lines from a poem or the whole poem. Use this guideline to cite the sources to create perfect, precise citations.

Confused About How to Cite a Poem? Fear Not! is here!

Does making the referencing list always bothered you? You’re not alone, almost every student struggle with citing references and especially if it is a poem. Don’t worry, because we are right here to guide you.

Our experts can help you with every type of referencing style for both creating the in-text, as well as, the reference list. So, if you are wondering how to cite a poem in a specific style, and no matter what style it is, you can get our assistance with that.

Some of the referencing styles with which we have provided our assistance to students are:

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