How to Cite a Poem Title in MLA Format

Students commonly use the seventh edition of the Modern Language Association (MLA) guide to cite sources in the humanities, particularly for literature. When citing poetry, remember that, because epic poems tend to be book length, their titles are italicized like book titles; all other poem titles are put in quotation marks.

In-Text Citation

If you are writing about more than one poem by the same person, or you have previously mentioned the poet's name in the text, either put the poem's title in the sentence immediately preceding your quotation (in italics if it's an epic poem and in quotation marks if it's not) or include the first significant word of the poem's title in quotation marks (or italics, if it's an epic poem) followed by the line number(s) within parentheses at the end of your quotation.

For example, you might write: Sylvia Plath's "Morning Song" begins with the line, "Love set you going like a fat gold watch" (1).

Or, if you are working with an epic poem, you might write:

Milton wrote "I thence invoke thy aid to my adventurous song/…instruct me, for Thou know'st" (Paradise Lost [italicized] 1.13-19).

Works Cited Page

When including the poem in your Works Cited page, remember that epic poems tend to be published singly, so they are treated as books. Other poems tend to be published in anthologies or collections of works. A typical poem would be cited as follows:

Last name, First name. "Poem Title." Anthology Title or Collection Title (in italics). Ed. Editor Name (if there is one). City of Publication: Publisher, year of publication. Page number(s) where the poem is found. Medium (Print or Web).

If you're citing an epic poem, you'd treat it as a book, as follows:

Last name, First name. Poem title (italicized). City of Publication: Publisher, year of publication. Medium (Print or Web).

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