How to Cite a Poem in Chicago Footnote Referencing
  • 4-minute read
  • 17th March 2020

How to Cite a Poem in Chicago Footnote Referencing

If you’re studying literature, there’s a good chance you’ll write about poetry in your work. But how do you cite a poem? Here, we’ll look at how to format the footnote citation and reference list entry for a poem in Chicago referencing.

Footnote Citations for Poems

Chicago footnote referencing, as set out in the Chicago Manual of Style, uses superscript numbers in text (e.g., 1,  2,  3) that point to a footnote citation. What that footnote citation looks like depends on where you found the poem:

  • For a poem published as a standalone book or in an anthology with a single author, you would use the standard book format.
  • If a poem was published in a periodical, you would use the magazine/newspaper format or the journal article format (for periodicals with volume and issue numbers).
  • For poems published as part of an anthology or collection with several authors, you would cite it as a chapter from an edited book.
  • For poems found online, cite them as a page on a website.

The two most common formats are probably the edited book and website formats. We will look at these in more detail below.

Citing a Poem from an Edited Book

If a poem is from an edited book, such as an anthology, the footnote format is:

n. Author name, “Title of poem,” in Book, ed. Editor(s) name (City: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s).

In practice, then, we would cite a poem from an edited book as follows:

1. Frank O’Hara, “Meditations in an Emergency,” in The Poetry of Crisis, ed. Donald Allen (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 197–198.

And to cite the same poem later in the document, you can use a shortened footnote format (i.e., either just the author’s surname for consecutive citations or the author’s name and the title for non-consecutive citations).

Citing a Poem from a Website

If you found a poem on a website, the footnote citation would look like this:

n. Author name, “Title of poem,” Publishing Organization or Name of Website, publication/last modified/accessed date, URL.

If the website provides a publication or modification date, then use this in the footnote. Otherwise, you can include a date of access instead:

2. Anne Carson, “The Glass Essay,” Poetry Foundation, accessed January 29, 2020. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48636/the-glass-essay.

As above, you can use a shortened footnote format for repeat citations.

Quoting a Poem in Chicago Referencing

When you quote a poem in Chicago referencing, you can also give line or stanza numbers after the page numbers in a citation. For instance, if we quoted lines 14 and 15 of a poem, we would cite it like this:

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3. Frank O’Hara, “Meditations in an Emergency,” in The Poetry of Crisis, ed. Donald Allen (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 197–198, lines 14–15.

To quote whole stanzas, moreover, use “st.” instead of “lines.”

Poems in a Chicago Reference List: Edited Book

When it comes to creating the reference list entry for a poem, the format again depends on where the poem is published. This will be similar to the first footnote citation, except you should give the author’s surname first.

Here, for example, we have the format for a poem from an edited book:

Author Surname, First Name. “Title of Poem.” In Book, edited by Editor(s) name, page number(s). City: Publisher, Year of Publication.

As you can see, we also replace “ed.” with “edited by,” move the page number in front of the publication information, and the punctuation is different.

The bibliography entry for the poem from the anthology cited above would be:

O’Hara, Frank. “Meditations in an Emergency,” in The Poetry of Crisis, edited by Donald Allen, 197–198. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.

Poems in a Chicago Reference List: Online

For a poem published online, the format is as follows:

Author Surname, First Name. “Title of Page.” Publishing Organization or Name of Website. Publication/last modified/accessed date. URL.

The poem from the website above would thus look like this:

Carson, Anne. “The Glass Essay.” Poetry Foundation. Accessed January 29, 2020. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48636/the-glass-essay.

So, whether the poem you’re citing is online or from an anthology, you can now cite it in Chicago footnote referencing. And if you’d like an expert to check your references, why not upload a document for proofreading?

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