Chat with a Librarian
Skip to Main Content
ask a librarian email questions

MLA Guide

This guide contains information to help you cite your sources in MLA format.

Citing a Poem: In-Text Citation

  • Use "line" or "lines" in your in-text if the source lists line numbers rather than page numbers.
  • For the first citation include the word  "line" or "lines" before the numbers
  • After the first in-text citation establishing that you will be using lines for that partacular source, you no longer need to use the word line or lines.
  • There should be a comma between the author or title and word "line" or "lines"
    • (Frost, lines 145-48)
  • There is no comma when you just list the line numbers. 
    • (Frost 145-48).
  • Note: If you are citing only one source for your entire paper/project, then you do not need to repeat the author's last name/title in the in-text citations as long as it's clear that you're referencing the outside source. This means your first in-text citation could look like (Frost, lines 145-48), but later in that paragraph if your next citation could just be the line number, like this (152). 

Quoting a single line of poetry

Format: (Poet Last Name line number(s))

*Note: Only include the line numbers if they are already included in the poem you are citing. You do not need to count line numbers if they are not already included. If you find the poem in a book, you can use the page number(s) for the poem. If you found the poem online and there are no page numbers or line numbers, you only need to include the poet's last name.

Example: "So better by far for me if you were stone" (Duffy, line 17).

Quoting 2-3 lines of poetry

When quoting 2-3 lines of poetry, use a forward slash ( / ) to mark the line breaks. If there is a stanza break between the lines you are quoting, use a double slash ( // ). Be sure to put a space before and after the slash. 

Use the exact punctuation, capitalization, and styling as used in the original text.

Format: (Poet Last Name line number(s))

Example: "Wasn't I beautiful? / Wasn't I fragrant and young? // Look at me now" (Duffy 40-42).

Quoting 4+ lines of poetry

When quoting 4 or more lines of poetry, use a block quote. Be sure to keep the spacing, punctuation, and capitalization the same as it is in the poem.

Example: In the poem "Medusa," Medusa discusses why she wants to turn the man she loves into stone:

Be terrified.

It's you I love,

perfect man, Greek God, my own;

but I know you'll go, betray me, stray

from home.

So better by far for me if you were stone. (Duffy, lines 12-17)

Citing a Poem: Works Cited

Poem in a Book

Format: Author(s). "Title of Part." Title of Book in Italics, edited by Editor, edition, vol. #, Publisher, Year, page number(s). Database Name in Italics (if electronic), URL.

Example: Lazarus, Emma. "The New Colossus." The Norton Introduction to Literature, edited by Kelly J. Mays, shorter 14th ed., W.W. Norton, 2022, p. 752. 

Poem from a Website

Format: Author(s). “Poem Title.” Original publication year. Title of Website in Italics, Website Publisher (if different than title), Date of publication, URL. Access Date.

Example: Angelou, Maya. "Still I Rise." 1978. Poetry Foundation, Accessed 21 Sep. 2022.