MLA which is an acronym for The Modern Language Association of America. MLA citation style is one of many different citation styles in academic writing, especially in humanities. MLA Citation styles are standardized systems for mentioning and acknowledging sources you have used for your research paper or assignment.

Since there are many different citation styles, your program or degree will require you to use a specific citation style. There are over 100 citation style and it is essential to follow the required style and not be tempted to follow another style to avoid inconsistency. On this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about MLA in-text citation of a Poem.

What is MLA in-text citation for a poem?
MLA In-text citation, usually parenthetical or in brackets, is an act of mentioning a Poem within the body of research work or paper while providing a full reference (Work cited) at the end of the page of the research work. It is called “in-text” because another source had been cited within the body of research work.

What usually follows after MLA in-text citation is the Works Cited List. While the In-text citation is used to cite a text or resources from another source by including only the author’s, name, the former provides full information about the source cited by including the Poem title, title of the page, date, URL, last accessed etc…

MLA In-text citation format for Poem.
Citing a Poem is not as easy as MLA citation for a book. In-text citation for a Poem means mentioning the content a Poem on your research work or assignment usually in parentheses. Unlike other sources, citing a Poem should be done with caution. Students of English, Literature or Arts are usually the major when it comes to citing Poem.

Before I show you various examples of in MLA In-text citation for Poem. Let’s consider what must be included In-text citation.
The following must be included when citing a Poem using MLA style

  • The author’s surname (last name) appears in the in-text citation
  • If a source has no author or editor, use the title in quotation


How to evaluate a Poem to be used for MLA in-text citation of a research work

  • Is the author well known and frequently published?
  • Are there any reviews available for the author’s work?
  • How easy is it to find contact information for the author within the Poem?
  • When the Poem was originally published?
  • When it was last edited?
  • Are you citing the latest update?
  • What is the intended audience of the Poem?
  • What is the purpose of the Poem?
  • To entertain or inform?
  • What is the author’s tone of voice?
  • Are there larger, more popular Poems on the topic than this one?


What is the purpose of MLA In-text citation of a Poem?

  • The main purpose of MLA In-text citation of a Poem is to indicate within your assignment the sources of the information you have used to write your research work or assignment and in turn, demonstrate support for your ideas, arguments and views.
  • Another main purpose of MLA In-text citation of a Poem is plagiarism. If you make use of someone else’s online article and fail to acknowledge them, you may be accused of plagiarism and infringing copyright if noticed.
  • Another main purpose of MLA In-text citation is to direct your readers to your sources through your Works Cited list at the end of your academic work.
  • Professionally, In-text citation is a required parameter for any research work or assignment. For any research work to be fully approved, MLA In-text citation is a requirement. A research work without citation is more or less literature.

One last thing to note before I show you MLA In-text citation format examples for Poems, let me tell the things you must remember. When creating MLIA in-text citation, the following are fundamental to help you create a great Work Cited List at the end of your research work.

  • Who – wrote /edited it – author or editor
  • When was it written – that is, the date
  • What is it – the title of Poem, the title of the article
  • Where was it published (Poems)
  • Where was the article located within the Poem?
  • Where you located it (Internet sources) – URL – web address.

In-text citation format for Poem (in print); Short quotation
Frost expresses a desire to roam, stating: “I should not be withheld but that someday / into their vastness I should steal away, / Fearless of ever finding open land” (5-7).


In “Into My Own,” Frost expresses a desire to roam, stating: “I should not be withheld but that someday / into their vastness I should steal away, / Fearless of ever finding open land” (5-7).

In-text citation format for Poem (in print); long quotation
In “Revelation,” Robert Frost illustrates the way in which we see the world:
We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated hear
Till someone really find us out. (1-4)

Check out more examples of in-text direct and indirect quote here

Things to note in the above in-text citation format for a poem

  • Please avoid using paraphrase for a poem. Use direct short quotation or long quotation.
  • Include the author’s name, the title(s) of the poem(s), and the line number(s) in the text (for better source integration) or within a parenthetical citation
  • If the passage you are quoting ends with a period, you may omit it because the period ending your sentence will serve in its place. However, if the passage you are quoting ends with a question mark, an exclamation point, or a dash, leave that punctuation mark, and then later use a period to end your sentence.  If the passage you are quoting ends with a colon, semicolon, or comma, delete that punctuation mark, add ellipses, and later use a period to end your sentence.
  • Keep the quotation WITHIN YOUR text. Indicate the end of one line and the beginning of the next line with a forward slash spaced separately from the text
  • Unlike sentences containing shorter quotations, which typically end with a period, block quotations end with the citation


MLA Works Cited List entry format of a Poem

Remember Reference encompasses citation. While citation only points to a building and landlord, Reference points to the building, rooms, landlord and possibly the children. In essence, the reference (Works Cited List) includes details of the sources cited in your paper.  It starts on a separate page at the end of your assignment paper and is titled Works Cited. Each item cited in the Works Cited list must have been cited in your paper.

All sources appearing in the Works Cited list must be ordered alphabetically by surname because the Works Cited list provides all the details necessary for the person reading and/or marking the assignment to locate and retrieve any information source cited.  An accurate and properly constructed Works Cited list provides credibility to the written work it accompanies and helps readers find the particular sources you have used.
The following are Core Element of MLA citation for Poems (however, you should ignore any element not found on the source you cited) Check out the core element for website
Core Elements are important criteria when citing a Poem using MLA. You should note that not every Poem will provide all of the Core Element. However, you should gather as much of the following information as possible both for your citations and for your research notes:

  • Author’s name; last names first.
  • Edited by before editor’s name. Editor’s name.
  • “Poem title in quotation marks.”
  • Italicize the titles of the book that contains the poems. (Anthology)
  • Any version numbers available, including editions (ed.), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol.), or issue numbers (no.).
  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  • Take note of any page numbers (p. or pp.) or paragraph numbers (par. or pars.).
  • URL (without the https://) DOI or permalink.
  • The date you accessed the material (Date Accessed) — while not required, it is highly recommended, especially when dealing with pages that change frequently or do not have a visible copyright date.


Use the following format Poem (in print):

Poet’s Name. “Title of Work.” Title of Anthology, edited by before editor’s name. Editor’s name, Edition. (If available), Publisher, Year, pp. Page number(s).

Work Cited
Frost, James.  “Strawberries in a Field.” Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, edited by Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Heinle, 2002,  pp.  142-144.

Use the following format Poem (online):

Poet’s Name. “Title of Work.” Title of site, Name of institution associated with site, date of publication (if available), URL (without http:// or https://).

Work Cited
Henley, William E. “Invictus.”  Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation.

How to Format Poem in Works Cited in MLA

  • Start the Works Cited list on a new page at the end of your assignment, including only sources cited within your writing.
  • The title Works Cited, or Work Cited if there is only one source, should be centred and at the top of the page.
  • Double-space the entire Works Cited list, including the title line. Do not add an extra blank line after the title.
  • Put the first line of each new entry to the left margin (left justified). Use a hanging indent (standard half-inch tab) for all subsequent lines of the entry. Tip: In MS Word, highlight all lines of the entry and press Ctrl + t
  • Organize the list alphabetically according to the first letter of each entry. Ignore “A,” “An,” and “The” when alphabetizing.

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