How to reference a poem

  • Key things to remember when referencing a poem in MHRA

    • The bibliography needs to be arranged alphabetically by author or editor surname, so always reverse the name in the bibliography. 
    • Put poem title in single quotation marks and anthology or collection title in italics. In the bibliography you need only cite the anthology or collection title as you are referencing the whole book.
    • Include page number(s) and line numbers (if available) in footnote references only, as you are citing a specific section of the book. Use the form ‘p.’ for ‘page’ or ‘pp.’ for ‘pages’ and/or ‘l.’ for ‘line’ or ‘ll.’ for ‘lines’. In the bibliography you are referencing the whole book.
    • Include edition if not the first, in the form ‘2nd edn’, ‘rev. edn’ etc, preceded by a comma.
    • Put a full stop at the end of footnote references, but not at the end of bibliography references.

    Referencing a poem from a collection

    Use this format when you are referencing a poem from a collection by a single poet.

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, ‘Poem Title’, in Collection Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x
    OR pp. x-xx (p. x), ll. x-xx.  

    For example:

    Sylvia Plath, ‘Daddy’, in Collected Poems, ed. by Ted Hughes (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), pp. 222-24 (p. 222), ll. 2-4.


    Bibliography format: Lastname, Firstname, Collection Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname (Place of publication: Publisher, Year)  

    For example:

    Plath, Sylvia, Collected Poems, ed. by Ted Hughes (London: Faber and Faber, 1981)

    Referencing a poem from an anthology

    Use this format when you are referencing a poem from an anthology or collection of works by several poets

    Footnote format: Firstname Lastname, ‘Poem Title’, in Anthology Title, ed. by Firstname Lastname, edition (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), p. x OR pp. x-xx (p. x), ll. x-xx.  

    For example:

    Sylvia Plath, ‘Daddy’, in The Norton Anthology of Poetry, ed. by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy, 5th edn (London: W. W. Norton, 2005), pp. 1840-42, ll. 2-4.


    Bibliography format: Editor Lastname, Firstname, and Editor Firstname Lastname, eds, Anthology Title, edition (Place of publication: Publisher, Year) 

    For example: 

    Ferguson, Margaret, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy, eds., The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th edn (London: W. W. Norton, 2005)