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Expert Guide on How to Cite a Poem: MLA and APA Formatting Quotations - Tips, Structure, Templates, and Examples

05 Oct 2023,5:28 PM

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Citing a poem correctly can be a daunting task, but fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the intricate art of citing poems in both MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) formats. Whether you're a student, a researcher, or simply someone who loves poetry, understanding the nuances of citing poems is essential for academic integrity and effective communication.

At Apax Researchers, we are committed to providing you with expert guidance, valuable insights, and actionable tips for various academic needs. As the go-to destination for online tutoring services, we aim to help students excel in their academic endeavors, and this guide is just one example of our commitment to excellence.

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Why Properly Citing Poems Matters

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of citation styles and formatting, it's crucial to understand why citing poems correctly is so important. Proper citation accomplishes several vital objectives:

 

1. Acknowledgment of Source

Citing a poem gives credit to the original poet, recognizing their creative work. It demonstrates your respect for their intellectual property and contributions to the literary world.

2. Avoiding Plagiarism

Failure to cite a poem correctly can lead to plagiarism, which is a serious academic and ethical offense. Plagiarism can result in severe consequences, including academic penalties and damage to your reputation.

3. Enhancing Credibility

Citations lend credibility to your own work by showing that you have conducted thorough research and have a solid foundation of knowledge in your subject area.

4. Providing Context

Citations provide readers with the necessary information to locate and review the source material, allowing them to better understand the context of your discussion.

Now that we've established the importance of proper citation, let's explore the two most commonly used citation styles for poems: MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).

 

MLA Format for Citing Poems

The MLA style is widely used in the humanities, including literature and language studies. When citing a poem in MLA format, follow these guidelines:

 

1. In-Text Citation

In MLA, you'll typically use parenthetical citations within the text. The basic format is as follows:

(Author's Last Name Line Number(s))

If the poem does not have line numbers, you can use the author's last name alone. Here's an example:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep" (Frost 13).

 

2. Works Cited Page

On your Works Cited page, you should provide a detailed citation for the poem. The format is as follows:

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Title of Book or Anthology. Editor's Name (if applicable). Publisher, Year, Page Range.

For example:

Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Edited by Margaret Ferguson et al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2005, pp. 125-126.

 

3. Specifics for Poems in Anthologies

When citing a poem from an anthology, you should include both the poem's title and the title of the anthology. Here's an example:

Eliot, T.S. "The Waste Land." The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Edited by Jahan Ramazani et al., W. W. Norton & Company, 2003, pp. 140-161.

Remember to italicize the poem's title and use proper punctuation and capitalization.

 

4. Online Sources

For poems found online, include the URL or DOI (Digital Object Identifier) in your citation. Here's an example:

Dickinson, Emily. "Hope Is the Thing with Feathers." Poets.org, www.poets.org/poets/emily-dickinson.

 

5. Long Quotations

For longer quotations (more than four lines), set them apart as a block quotation. Indent the entire block 1 inch from the left margin and do not use quotation marks.

Example:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could (Frost 1-4).

 

6. Short Quotations

For short quotations (fewer than four lines), incorporate them into your text within double quotation marks.

Example:

In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost writes, "Whose woods these are I think I know" (1).

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APA Format for Citing Poems

APA style is commonly used in the social sciences and is known for its strict guidelines. When citing a poem in APA format, follow these rules:

 

1. In-Text Citation

In APA, in-text citations for poetry should include the author's last name, the publication year, and the page number (if available). Here's an example:

(Frost, 1916, p. 13)

If you're citing a poem without page numbers, include the line number instead:

(Dickinson, 1861, line 1)

 

2. Reference List

In your reference list, provide a full citation for the poem. The format is as follows:

Author's Last Name, First Initial. (Year of Publication). Title of Poem. Title of Book or Anthology (italicized). Publisher. DOI or URL

For example:

Frost, R. (1916). Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature (italicized). W. W. Norton & Company.

 

3. Specifics for Poems in Anthologies

When citing a poem from an anthology in APA, include both the poem's title and the title of the anthology:

Eliot, T.S. (1922). The Waste Land. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (italicized). W. W. Norton & Company.

 

4. Online Sources

For online poems, include the URL or DOI in your citation:

Dickinson, E. (1861). Hope Is the Thing with Feathers. [URL]

 

 

5. Short Quotations

For short quotations (fewer than 40 words), integrate them into your text within double quotation marks.

Example:

In the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost (2016) wrote, "Whose woods these are I think I know" (p. 837).

 

Long Quotations

For longer quotations (more than 40 words), set them apart as a block quotation, indenting the entire block 1/2 inch from the left margin, without using quotation marks.

Example:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could (Frost, 2016, pp. 837-838).

 

Practical Tips for Citing Poems

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to cite poems in MLA and APA formats, here are some practical tips to help you navigate the process smoothly:

 

1. Use Reliable Sources

Ensure that you are citing poems from reputable sources. Avoid personal blogs, forums, or unverified websites. Stick to established literary journals, anthologies, or official poetry websites.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to citations. Choose one citation style (MLA or APA) and stick with it throughout your paper. This ensures a polished and professional appearance.

3. Pay Attention to Formatting

Both MLA and APA have specific formatting rules for citations. Double-check your citations for proper punctuation, italics, and capitalization. Inaccurate formatting can lead to confusion and errors.

4. Include All Necessary Information

Make sure your citations include all the required elements, such as the author's name, poem title, anthology title, publication year, and page numbers (if applicable). Incomplete citations can undermine your work's credibility.

5. Use Online Citation Generators

If you find it challenging to format your citations manually, consider using online citation generators. These tools can help you create accurate citations in MLA or APA style quickly.

6. Consult Style Guides

Refer to official style guides for MLA and APA (e.g., "MLA Handbook" or "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association") for comprehensive guidance on citing various sources, including poems.

7. Seek Assistance

If you're unsure about how to cite a specific poem or encounter a unique situation, don't hesitate to seek assistance from your instructor, a librarian, or a writing center. Getting expert guidance can save you time and ensure accuracy.

 

Example Citations

Let's examine some example citations in both MLA and APA formats to solidify our understanding:

 

Example 1: Citing a Poem in an Anthology (MLA)

Poet: Emily Dickinson

Poem Title: "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"

Anthology Title: The Norton Anthology of American Literature

Publication Year: 2007

Page Range: 112-113

Citation:

Dickinson, Emily. "Because I Could Not Stop for Death." The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 7th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 112-113.

 

Example 2: Citing an Online Poem (APA)

Poet: Langston Hughes

Poem Title: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

Website Title: Poetry Foundation

URL: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47558/the-negro-speaks-of-rivers

Citation:

Hughes, L. (1921). The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47558/the-negro-speaks-of-rivers

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Templates for MLA and APA Citations

 

6.1 MLA Template

To make citing poems in MLA format easier, here's a template you can follow:

Author's Last Name, Author's First Name. "Title of the Poem." Title of the Anthology, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Publisher, Publication Year, pp. Page Numbers.

6.2 APA Template

For APA format, here's a template to help you cite poems:

Author's Last Name, Author's Initial. (Publication Year). Title of the Poem. In Editor's Initial Last Name (Ed.), Title of the Anthology (pp. Page Numbers). Publisher.

 

Conclusion

Citing poems in MLA and APA formats may initially appear daunting, but with the right knowledge and attention to detail, it becomes a manageable task. Remember that proper citation not only reflects your academic integrity but also enhances the credibility of your work.

In this comprehensive guide, we've covered the fundamental principles of citing poems, from in-text citations to formatting on Works Cited or reference pages. We've also shared practical tips to help you navigate the process with ease and accuracy.

For students and researchers seeking guidance on citing poems, apaxresearchers.com offers a wealth of resources and expert tutoring services. Our team of experienced educators can provide personalized assistance to ensure your citations meet the highest standards of accuracy and professionalism.

Don't let the intricacies of citation styles deter you from producing outstanding academic and professional work. Mastering the art of citing poems is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your academic and professional journey. Remember that when you cite with precision and care, you contribute to the academic community's ongoing conversation and ensure that the voices of poets are heard and respected.

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