• 3-minute read
  • 12th January 2019

Quoting a Poem in APA Referencing

Many style guides have special rules for quoting poetry in an essay. In this post, for example, we will look at how to quote poetry using APA referencing. This will cover:

  1. How to present quoted verse on the page
  2. How to format in-text citations for a poem in APA referencing

If you are quoting poetry, then, make sure to follow the rules below.

Quoting a Poem

The basic rules for quoting one line of poetry are the same as for quoting any other source. This means you should:

  • Place the quoted text within quotation marks.
  • Cite the author’s surname and year of publication in brackets.
  • Include a page number for the quoted passage in brackets (if available).

However, if you’re quoting two lines of poetry, you need to include a forward slash to show where the line break is in the original text. For example:

One classic example of nonsense poetry is ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’, which begins thus: ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea / In a beautiful pea-green boat’ (Lear, 1871/1983, p. 34).

Here, we’re quoting the first two lines of an Edward Lear poem (we include two dates because this is a republished version of the original work). The page numbers in the citation, meanwhile, show us where this poem appears in the book.

Name a more iconic duo.
Name a more iconic duo.

Quoting Three or More Lines of Poetry

If you’re using more than two lines from a poem, present it as a block quote. Ideally, you will recreate the presentation of the lines on the page from the original source:

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The final stanza begins with an interspecies wedding:
                ‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next da
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill. (Lear, 1871/1983, p. 34)

Here, for example, we have indented the second and final lines more than the rest of the quote. This is because the original poem is presented in the same way.

Furthermore, as with any APA block quote, the citation here comes after the final punctuation in the quote, not before it.

Poems in an APA Reference List

Finally, poems cited in your work should also appear in the reference list at the end of your document. The correct reference format to use, however, will depend on how the poem was published:

  • For long poems published by themselves, use the standard book format. You can do this for anthologies with a single author, too, but make sure to name the editor as well as the author of the poems themselves.
  • List poems published in an anthology as chapters from an edited book.
  • List a single poem found online as a web page.

Make sure to provide full publication information for all poems and their container volumes (i.e. the book or website where you found the poem). This will allow your reader to find them if required.

Comments (3)
Karen Szydlik
10th November 2020 at 21:07
I have many poems from other authors throughout my work. How do I write the title of the poem? I have that when referring to a poem by name in the body of the text it should be "Name", but when U put the whole poem in with the name at the top should it also be " "Name of Poem" Line 1 Line 2 Line 3 (Author, year, p.) With thanks Karen
    11th November 2020 at 10:22
    Hi, Karen. If the title is effectively part of the text of the poem, and the multi-line quote is set apart from the main text of your work, then you should not need the quote marks.
16th November 2020 at 12:39
thank you!

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