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MLA Citation Guide (8th Edition): Poetry

This guide shows you how to cite using MLA 8th edition


Note: For your Works Cited list, all citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent.

A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.

Poetry Taken from an Edited Collection

Author of Poem's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Title of Book: Subtitle if Any, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and is not first, Publisher Name often shortened, Year of Publication, pp. Page Numbers of the Poem.

Works Cited List Example  

Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Poetry, edited by Lisa Chalykoff, Neta Gordon, and Paul Lumsden, Broadview Press, 2013, pp. 48-49.

In-Text Citation Example

 (Author of Poem's Last Name line(s) Line Number(s))

 Example: (Donne lines 26-26)

 Note: If your quotation contains more than one line from the poem using forward slashes (/) between each line of the poem. For line breaks that occur between stanzas, use a double forward slash (//). 


Using scientific imagery, Donne describes his connection to his wife, "As stiff compasses are two: /Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show / To move, but both, if th' other do" (lines 26-28).

 Note: If citing more than 3 lines, follow the rules for a long quotation

Learn more: See the MLA Handbook, pp. 78-79, 121-122

In-Text Citation Rules for Poetry

Information included in poem In-Text Citation Example
Poem includes line numbers

 (Author of Poem's Last Name line(s) Line Number(s))

 Example: (Blake lines 6-9)

Poem doesn't include line numbers

 (Author of Poem's Last Name)

 Example: (Chaucer)

Poem includes divisions (acts, scenes, cantos,

books, parts) and line numbers

(Author of Poem's Last Name Division Number. Line Number(s))

Example: (Pope 5.645-646)

Note: 5.645-646 refers to canto 5, lines 645-646 

Learn more: See the MLA Handbook, pp. 121-122