Tips on How to Cite a Poem Correctly

Some of your college assignments may require citing poems. You must correctly format the quotation and in-text citations to direct your readers to the correct sources in the bibliography. 

The first thing you need to know is that citing poems is different from citing a research paper. Thus, you should master how to cite poetry to succeed in your poetry assignments. This post shares insights on how to cite a poem. Keep reading to discover more and sharpen your poem citation skills.   

When Should You Use Poem Quotes?

Before delving into the details of poem citation, it’s critical to understand when it’s appropriate to cite such a source. Often, liberal arts, language, and literature students cite poems because it’s impossible to write about a particular poet without referencing their works.

Moreover, poem citation may apply to other forms of writing like reflective, argumentative, and descriptive essays. Citing a poem in your assignments also simplifies your writing and explains something to readers more clearly. We don’t have stringent rules regulating where you must cite poems, but several academic conventions determine how to cite poems in MLA and other styles. 

Citing Poem Quotes in MLA Style

It’s critical to understand how to cite a poem in MLA. This section shares the rules to follow in the process of mastering how to cite a poem in MLA.

In MLA poetry citation, quoting a single poem line or a part of a line requires you to put the citation in quotation marks. When quoting several lines, follow particular formatting requirements, as elaborated below. 

  • Citing 2–3 Lines

Use a forward slash to mark line breaks when quoting two or three lines. Put a space before and after the forward slash. Use the same styling, punctuation, and capitalization in the original poem. 

  • Quoting 4+ Lines

When citing four or more lines, always set them off as a block quote. Utilize the first sentence that ends with a colon before starting the citation on a new line, indented half an inch to the left margin, but without quotation marks. 

  • Block Quoting 

When citing a poem as a block, include every line break in the quotation and keep the formatting closest to the original. If the original poem has strange spacing, replicate it in your block quote. 

  • In-text Citations 

In your quotations, the poet’s last name should be stated clearly so the reader can find the source in your cited works. When citing several poems by the same author, mention each quoted poem’s time. Name the poet and title in the main text while introducing the quote to avoid ambiguity. 

Some poems are published with line numbers in the margins. In such cases, use the line numbers in your in-text citation to locate the quote more accurately. Use the word “line” or “lines” after a comma in the first quotation. However, use numbers only in the following quotations. Below is an example.

 “What causes fighting among friends, why do we fight / Just to gratify our selfish desires? (Ayayah, lines 21–22).

If the source doesn’t display any lines, avoid counting them manually. If the poems are published over several pages, use their page numbers. Below is a sample.

 “Today they kiss and hold you / In their arms and chests / Tomorrow they stub you in the back” (Amadoyah 111).

How to Cite a Poem in APA Style?

Citing a poem here requires you to follow APA rules. Below are some of the rules on how to cite a poem.

  • For a poem citation up to 40 words (short), use quotation marks.
  • Don’t begin short quotes from new lines.
  • Mark all line breaks in short quotes using slashes.
  • Use block citations for quotes longer than 40 words.
  • Always begin block citations from new lines.
  • Don’t use quotation marks for block citations.
  • Indent all block quotations 1.3 cm from the left margin, all double-spaced.

When citing poems from books, reference the sources in your cited works in this format:

Poet’s last name, first initial. (Year). Poem title. Look at this sample.

Amadoyah, V. (2025). A book. A. Eyre (Ed.), Ayayah Vuruyah: Selected Poems (pp.44-46). Mombasa, Kenya.: Vuguyah Press.

Follow the following format for citing websites: Poet’s last name, first initial. (year, month, day). Poem title. Retrieved from Below is an example.

Amadoyah, E. (2025, November 22). I am highly loved! What about you? Retrieved from

How to Cite a Poem in Harvard Referencing Style

Citing a poem in Harvard style resembles other citation formats. Below are rules on how to cite a poem in Harvard.

In-text Citation

Include the poet’s last name, publication year (if available), and the page number when quoting directly. For online poems, include the title, stanza, or line number instead of the page number. Below is an example.

As Amadoyah (2025) stated, “I am a greatly loved and treasured man / That’s why I love all” (p. 4).

For unnumbered poems, only use line numbers exemplified below.

 (Amadoyah, 2025, lines 1-2)

When paraphrasing, you may only mention the poet’s name and the publication year, as the example shows.

Amadoyah’s (2025) poetry usually explores love and other virtues.

Reference List Entry

The list must include the poet’s name, the poem title, the publication year, the book title or anthology (where necessary), the editor’s name (where necessary), the publisher, and the page numbers (where necessary). 

Example: Amadoyah, V. (2025). The Beauty of Love. In Goshen City. Vuguyah and Company.

Always italicize the poem’s title and the book or anthology title. In online poem citation, include the URL and the access date. 

Tips on How to Cite a Poem in Different Types of Tone in Writing 

Below are poem citation tips and rules to follow, irrespective of your formatting style and academic level.

  • Read the entire poem to understand the citation’s meaning and the author’s message correctly before choosing to cite it.
  • Don’t over-cite your work. 
  • Avoid or reduce quoting by paraphrasing. 
  • Don’t cite the whole poem if you need a few lines to start or finish.
  • Use embedded citations. 
  • Always edit and proofread your quotes for appropriate usage and correct formatting.

Samples of Citing a Poem

Below are short and long examples of how to cite a poem correctly.

  • Short Citation 

In “I Am Loved”, Amadoyah wrote, “I am loved, and I am lovely, / That’s why I love all.”

  • Long Citation 

Amadoyah Vuruyah wrote:
I am a man greatly beloved,
Love flows towards me as a river,
From my bowels flows love,
I am greatly loved.

Closing Remarks

Here is everything you need to master how to cite a poem in various formatting styles. We hope these insights will boost your citation skills. Don’t hesitate to contact us for essay writing service if you need to complete a well-researched poem analysis.  

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