How to Cite a Poem in MHRA Referencing | Proofed’s Writing Tips

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 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), ll. x–xx.

Be sure to provide page and line number(s), as you are quoting a defined section of the book. Use “p.” for “page” or “pp.” for “pages,” and/or “l.” for “line” or “ll.” for “lines.” 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.
  2. Tony Harrison, “Lines to my Grandfathers,” in Tony Harrison: Selected Poems, ed. by Tony Harrison, 2nd edn (London: Penguin Books, 1987), pp. 177-178 (p. 177), ll. 3-5.

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, the poem’s title and a page number. See our blog post on repeat citations in MHRA for more information.

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

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

The year refers to when the web page was last updated. If this information is not available, use “[n.d.]” (“no date”) instead. You should only give line numbers if they are fixed and stable using the above formula. 

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

  1. Sylvia Plath, “Blackberrying,” All Poetry [n.d.] <https://allpoetry.com/Blackberrying> [accessed July 22 2021].

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:

  • Put the poet’s surname first.
  • Use a hanging indent for each line after the first in each entry.
  • Page and line numbers are unnecessary.
  • Don’t place 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)

Harrison, Tony, “Lines to my Grandfathers,” in Tony Harrison: Selected Poems, ed. by Tony Harrison, 2nd edn (London: Penguin Books, 1987)

And for online poems:

Plath, Sylvia, “Blackberrying,” All Poetry [n.d.] [accessed July 22 2021]

Hopefully, this guide has helped you to reference a poem using MHRA. But if you’d like any extra help with referencing, why not try our expert MHRA proofreading service?

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