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How to Format Poems in APA


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is used for many types of academic writing. The guide includes instructions for formatting a wide variety of works, including poetry. The type of formatting depends upon the number of lines used in the quotation. All quotes are to be cited within the text of your paper and on the reference page at the end.

Single Line

In APA style, one line of poetry is treated the same as any other quote. The line is included within double quotation marks. Any punctuation from the original source is included inside the quotes.

Two Lines

If two lines of poetry are quoted, they are placed within the text. The lines are inside quotation marks, including any original punctuation. A slash mark ("/") is used to indicate where the two lines are separated. This mark does not affect the quotation marks.

Three or More Lines

When including poetry that is three or more lines long, it is formatted like a block quote. No quotation marks are used. The lines of poetry should be written exactly as they are in the source, including punctuation. The first line is indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, which is the same as for a new paragraph. This becomes the new margin, and each subsequent line is indented 1/2 inch from this. The entire section is double-spaced. The in-text citation comes after the final punctuation.

In-Text Citation

Regardless on the length of the poetry, all work must be cited in the text. The citation is done with the author's last name within the text followed by the publication year within parentheses. At the end of the quote list "p." and the page number inside parentheses; for example, "Frost (1987) wrote... (p.118)." Another option is to put all that information together inside parentheses after the quote, such as "... (Frost, 1987, p. 118)."

Reference Page

All poems that are quoted in the text must also be cited on the reference page at the end. Poems are often found in anthologies, so the reference begins with the poet's last name, a comma, the poet's initial and a period. The publication date is inside parentheses, followed by a period. Next is the title of the poem in sentence case, a period, "In", the editor's initial and last name, "(Ed.)", a comma and the italicized title of the book in sentence case. Then, in parentheses, are "p." for page and the page number. There's a period, the publication location, a colon and the publisher, followed by a period.

About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.

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