How to Include the Name of a Poem in MLA

Papers about literary analysis often use format set down by the Modern Language Association. Following format protocol enhances your integrity as a writer and creates consistency among MLA papers. When you refer to poems in an MLA style paper, format the title appropriately depending upon the placement of the title in the essay.


According to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition), the title of a poem in the text of your document should follow general capitalization and formatting rules. Capitalize the first word, the last word and all words in between except "to," prepositions, articles and coordinate conjunctions such as "and" or "but." Italicize the title of a long poem, one that is a book by itself. Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter poems, such as those included within an anthology.

Citations and Works Cited

For in-text citations, use the author's last name if you have one. For poems without an author, use the title of the poem in the citation and as the start of the entry on the Works Cited. Format the poem's title on the Works Cited just as you would within the body of the paper, using italics for longer works and quotation marks for shorter works. For poems originally written in a foreign language, include "trans." (without the quotation marks) and the translator's name in place of the author.

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