How to Cite a Poem in MHRA Referencing
  • 3-minute read
  • 4th August 2021

How to Cite a Poem in MHRA Referencing

If you’re writing an essay and want to cite a poem in MHRA, the process is a little different to referencing other works. In this post, we demonstrate the formats for both footnote citations and bibliography entries of poems in MHRA referencing.

Citing a Poem in MHRA Referencing

In MHRA referencing, you use footnotes to supply information about the source. You signal the footnotes with superscript numbers in the text, which you usually place after the final punctuation:

Place footnotes after final punctuation.1

You then provide the bibliographic information in a footnote.

Here is the format for footnote citations of poems found in edited books:

n. Poet Name(s), ‘Poem Title’, in Collection Title, ed. by Editor Name(s) (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x OR pp. x–xx (p. x), x–xx.

Be sure to provide page and line number(s), as you are quoting the poem. Use the abbreviations ‘p.’ for ‘page’ or ‘pp.’ for ‘pages’ when giving the full page range for the poem, then give the specific line numbers after a comma. For example:

1. Wilfred Owen, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, in Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, ed. by Neil Astley (Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2002), p. 347, 45.

Here, for example, we’re citing line 45 of ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, which appears on page 347 of the collection Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times.

If you cite the same poem more than once in your document, you can use a shortened footnote citation after the first. Typically, this is the poet’s surname and a page number. See our blog post on repeat citations in MHRA for more information.

Citing a Poem Found Online

If you are referencing a poem found online, the footnote format is slightly different:

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n. Poet Name(s), ‘Poem Title’, Website (Year) [accessed day month year].

The year refers to when the web page was last updated. If this information is not available, use ‘[n.d.]’ (meaning ‘no date’) instead.

Here is an example of a footnote citation for an online poem:

2. Sylvia Plath, ‘Blackberrying’, All Poetry [n.d.] <> [accessed 22 July 2021].

As with poems from a collection, you can shorten footnotes for repeat citations.

Poems in an MHRA Bibliography

You should include every source you cite in your text in your bibliography. This should be arranged alphabetically by the authors’ surnames. The format for bibliography entries is identical to footnote citations, except:

  • The poet’s surname is listed first.
  • A hanging indent is used for each line after the first in each entry.
  • No pinpoint citation is needed (although you will still need to provide inclusive page numbers for the poem if it is from a print collection).
  • There are no full stops at the end of entries.

Here’s how you would reference the above poems:

Owen, Wilfred, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, in Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, ed. by Neil Astley (Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2002), p. 347

Plath, Sylvia, ‘Blackberrying’, All Poetry [n.d.] [accessed 22 July 2021]

This guide has set out the basics of citing poems using MHRA referencing. But if you’d like any extra help with referencing, or any element of your academic writing, why not try our expert MHRA proofreading service?

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