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How to Cite a Poem in a Textbook


Whenever you use an outside source, such as a poem, article or short story in an essay, you'll be expected to provide a proper citation in an attached bibliography or works cited page. While the format set forth by the Modern Language Association (MLA) tends to be more common, some professors may require the style used by the American Psychological Association (APA). Citing a small piece of work from a larger anthology, like a poem in a literature textbook, is simple in both formats.

Using MLA Style

Type the poet's last and first name, separated by a comma.

Enter the title of the poem, enclosed in quotation marks. Place a period inside the ending quotation mark.

Type the name of the textbook in italicized font. List the name of the textbook editor using the appropriate abbreviation. Your entry should resemble this: "Ed. John Smith."

List the place of publication followed by a colon and a single space. Enter the name of the publishing company and the year of publication, separated by a comma.

Type the page numbers where the poem can be found. If it is on a single page, list a single number. If it spans several pages, separate the beginning and ending page number with a hyphen.

Specify the medium of the work. If you read the poem from a printed textbook, write "Print."

Check your citation for accuracy. Yours should resemble this: Espada, Martin. "The Sign In My Father's Hands." Legacies. Eds. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt and Carley Rees Bogarad. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. 494-495. Print.

Using APA Style

List the poem's author, using the last name and first initial, separated by a comma.

Follow with the date of publication in parentheses. Enter the title of the poem without quotations.

Type the name of the textbook's editor and follow with "Ed." in parentheses.

List the name of the textbook in italicized font and include the page where the poem can be found in parentheses. Close with a period.

Type the place of publication followed by a colon. Enter the name of the publishing company. Your entry should resemble this: Espada, M. (2006). The sign in my father's hands. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt and Carley Rees Bogarad (Eds.) Legacies (494-495). Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.

Tips
  • You do not need to use title-case when listing the name of the poem in APA style.
  • Introduce the title of the poem when referencing it in the body of your essay.
  • Your works cited or bibliography page should have a hanging indent, meaning that the second line of text in an entry should be indented below the first. Visit the Format tab in your word processor program to adjust this setting.
Warning
  • Failure to cite your sources can result in serious academic consequences.
About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.

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