How to format a poem


As in prose, there are rules governing the format of poetry. Poems have the basic format, which must be followed during their creation. If you plan to submit the manuscript to the publisher, or to include a few lines of poetry in an essay, there are specific ways of formatting a poem for these cases.


Basic structure and format


Check out the type of poem


You’ll have a little more freedom, if you write a poem without rhyme, but if you’re trying to write a certain type of poem, you need to check the specific interests such as format requirements before considering anything else.


Haiku must consist of three strings. The first row consists of five sounds, the second has seven, and the third has five. Often, these “sounds” are regarded as the syllables of our language.


Limerick has five strings. The first, second and fifth rhyme with each other and have eight or nine syllables. The third and fourth line rhyme with each other and have five or six syllables.


Sonnet has 14 lines and is usually written in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare’s sonnets follow a rhythmic pattern ABAB / CDCD / EFEF / GG. Sonnets of Petrarch follow the rhythmic pattern ABBA / ABBA / CDE / CDE.


Create strings based on speech patterns and appearance


The length of each string and the method of breaking down the strings will affect the reader’s experience, so you need to format string so that it made sense.


Readers tend to make a short pause at the end of each line, regardless of whether there is any punctuation or not. As such, it makes sense to finish the line the point at which the pause would be natural or can be used to emphasize an important point.


Words are placed in the end of the line, generally appear to be more significant than in the middle.


Short strings seem to be more uneven and rapid, so they can speed up the reader. Long lines are more like prose and can slow down the reader.


Look at the way the strings look like on paper. Verses with easy content should be easy to look, with short lines and plenty of white space. Deep, full meaning of the verses can look more compact.


Experiment with punctuation


Even though the readers are doing the natural pause at the end of the line, a punctuation mark at the end of this line will stimulate delay a long pause.


On the other hand, when there punctuation at the end of line, a pause is minimized, and may even be skipped.


Completing the line in the middle of a sentence can highlight an idea or create tension.


Group the strings in the logical stanza


The stanzas are the same for poetry than prose are paragraphs. The strings are grouped into individual verses, to maintain order and smoothness.


Stanzas are usually used for the organization of ideas, so that one stanza, probably will have a different tone or a slightly different emphasis than the verses before and after it.


Rewrite the poem, to the extent necessary to improve the overall shape


You probably will not find the best combination of rhythm, line and general order in your first draft, so you need to rewrite your poem several times to improve its format.


As a rule, the first time it may be easier to write your ideas instinctively and naturally.


Re-read the poem aloud and make any necessary changes when write it on paper. Note
the appearance and sound.


Manuscript format


Use standard fields and fonts


Use the indent from the edge 1 inch and the font size of 11 or 12.
Left, right and bottom margin should be 1 inch. The top margin may also be 1 inch but you can also make smaller, if the poem looks better.
Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria or Calibri.


Enter your name and contact information at the top


In the upper right corner of the page, enter your full name, and then complete mailing address, phone number, email address and website (if you have one).


Each piece of information should be on a separate line.


Specify this information through a single interval aligned to the right edge.


This format is a standard, but is also acceptable to write the information in the upper left corner of the page, especially if it makes the overall structure of the poem cleaner. Include the same information and save the text single-spaced, but with the left alignment.


Specify the number of rows


On the line immediately after the contact information, specify the number of rows.


This is required only if your contact information is in the upper right corner.


If your contact information is in the upper left corner, put the number of rows in the upper right corner on the same line as the name.


When specifying the number of lines of type “xx strings.” For example: 12 strings.


Write the name of the center in capital letters


Step back down 5-6 lines, and then type the title of your poem with capital letters.


Name is usually written on the center of page. If your contact information is aligned to the right of the page, you can also align the title if desired.


After the title must be followed one empty line.


Align on left edge the stanza


Align each stanza in the left side of the page. The text should be ragged on the right edge, and is not aligned in width.


Each stanza detached single-spaced.


The space between the two stanzas should be double-spaced. In other words, each stanza of the previous and next should separate one empty line.


Include basic information about any additional page


If your poem continues on the second page, you will need to place a header at the top of this page.


The title should include the name, title of poem, and the current page number.


Last name must be listed in the upper left corner, the name of the center and page number – in the upper right corner. All three parts have to be on the same line.


Use this header format for each page, after first page, regardless of whether the second page, third, eleventh, and so forth.


Edit citations


Give a quote


Imagine a quote and turn the text in quotation marks within the rest of the sentence.


Do not make “dry” citations. This refers to the text blocks, which are nothing but a citation without your own input or final words leading. Such a reference to the poem does not provide sufficient conditions for a quote.


Correct example: In “Sonnet 82” Shakespeare compares the beauty of the subject of the poem with his wisdom, saying, “Your mind is exquisite as your features” (line 5).


Wrong example: In “Sonnet 82” Shakespeare compares the beauty of the subject of the poem with his wisdom. “Your mind is exquisite as your features” (line 5).


Enclose three or fewer lines in quotes


When you quote only one, two or three lines from a poem, include a quote in the body of the text by putting it in quotes.


Use a forward slash (/) to indicate a line break. Place a space before and after each character.


Example Poet praises knowledge of the subject and the beauty, saying: “Your mind is exquisite as your features, / Much thinner all my praise” (lines 5-6).


Cite four or more rows with offset to the left


When you cite four lines or more, place a quote on a separate line after your introductory speech.


Use the offset to the left of the ten full indentation from the left margin. Each line of your quotes must begin with this indentation.


Do not use quotation marks or slashes.


Example: Shakespeare opens “Sonnet 82” with the words of his friend on his muse:

Do not engaged you with my muse.
And often forgiving your judgment,
When you poets of the day
Eloquent devote labor. (Lines 1-4)


Cite line number


For each poetic citations in the text must specify the row or rows of numbers that fall on your quote in the poem.


At the conclusion of three or fewer strings in quotation marks, place the line numbers in the parentheses after the closing quotation marks. At the same time, the quote should go to the point.


When citing four or more rows back away from the main text, enter the line number after the final quotation point.


Write “string”, “strings” or “st” to the first citation of this poem to clarify what you are referring to lines, not the pages. But for each additional citation you only need to specify the number.


Example: Shakespeare opens “Sonnet 82” with the words of his friend on his muse:

Do not engaged you with my muse.
And often forgiving your judgment,
When you poets of the day
Eloquent devote labor. (Srtings 1-4)


He later continued, praising the beauty and intelligence of his muse, saying: “Your mind is exquisite as your features, / Much thinner all my praise” (5-6).


format a poem