How to Show a Line Break in a Poem Using MLA Format

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If you are writing an essay that analyzes or discusses a poem, you will most often need to use Modern Language Association format for quoting the poem. The type of formatting for the quotation and line breaks, however, depends on the amount of text you use. These guidelines, found in the 7th edition of the MLA handbook, contain all the information you need to format line breaks in a poem.

Fewer than Three Lines

If a poem quotation contains less than three lines, type the text directly into the essay. For more than one line, mark the line breaks by putting a slash between each line, with a space both before and after the slash. For example, the lines "The window square / Whitens and swallows its dull stars" are from Sylvia Plath's "Morning Song."

Three Lines or More

Quotations of three lines or more should be put into block quotation format, separated from your essay by a hard return, indented one inch from the left margin and double-spaced. The line breaks in this quotation should be kept just like those in the original, or as close to their format as possible.


About the Author

Gale Marie Thompson's work has been published in "Denver Quarterly," "Los Angeles Review" and "Best New Poets 2012." Thompson holds a BA in English and creative writing from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is working on a PhD at the University of Georgia.

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