If the quotation contains line breaks, use a forward slash with a space on either side. To indicate a stanza break, use two slashes. If the quotation is longer than three lines, use an MLA block quote to separate it from the main text. Recreate the original's line breaks, punctuation, and formatting.
To quote poetry in MLA format, begin the quote with a period and use quotation marks as you would for any other source quotation.
Examples: "Doubt thou the stars are fire; / Doubt that the sun doth move; / But think not man was made to mourn; / Thou shalt know ere long." (William Shakespeare) "Lines written at different times, but intended for one poem." (William Wordsworth) "A: Hello, B: I didn't get your name., A: Oh, sorry about that. I tend to forget people's names when I write them down." (Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
For additional information on formatting poetry quotations, see our How to Format Poetry in an Academic Paper guide.
When quoting a single line (or part of a line) from a poem, just place it in quotation marks like you would any other quote. When quoting two or three lines, use a forward slash to indicate line breaks. Before and after the slash, add a space. These lines are examples of proper punctuation for a poem:
Lines need to be separated by spaces, not by periods or commas. This is because poems are composed of words, and words can be divided into lines just like sentences can. Punctuating poems with periods or commas would be like punctuating a sentence with em dashes or en dashes-it wouldn't make much sense!
Here's an example of a simple poem with one line of text: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." You can read this poem out loud like any other piece of writing with no problem. When quoted correctly, each line of the poem should be separated by a space.
Now let's say we wanted to include another quote within this poem. We could do this by first printing the original poem without a quote, then adding the second quote at the beginning of a new paragraph and finally ending the first paragraph with a colon followed by a blank line.
MLA block quote formatting should be used when quoting more than three lines from a source. In MLA, format a block quotation as follows:
When quoting four or more lines, start the quote on a new line, indented one inch from the left margin, and duplicate each line of the poem as it appears in your source, double-spacing and indented one inch. There is no need for quote marks at the beginning and conclusion of sentences, as well as slashes to denote line breaks.
Place quotes longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse in a free-standing block of text and avoid quotation marks. Begin the quotation on a new line, with the full quotation indented 1/2 inch from the left margin and double spaced. End the quotation on its own line, with the period used as a punctuation mark.
End the quotation on its own line, but keep the indentation.
Begin the quotation on a new line, with the full quotation indented an inch from the left margin and double spaced. End the quotation with another full stop followed by a blank line.