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How to Cite Beowulf in MLA Format

by Carrie Burns, Demand Media

    Citing Beowulf is not any different than citing any other poem in the Modern Language Association (MLA) format. MLA format is the preferred style for formatting and citations in the liberal arts. While it may seem confusing to cite a poem that is also published as a book as well as in anthologies, and one that is written anonymously at that, follow the guidelines for citing poetry in the MLA handbook.

    Items you will need

    • Current MLA handbook

    Individually Published Translations

    Step 1

    Place Beowulf in your Works Cited list alphabetically under B. MLA citations traditionally begin with the name of the author, but since Beowulf's author is unknown, begin with the title.

    Step 2

    Italicize the title of the poem and put a period after it. Capitalize the first letter of the word. Shorter poems that only appear in anthologies are put inside quotation marks, but epic poems and those published individually as books are italicized instead.

    Step 3

    Follow the title with the translator if you are using an individually published version of Beowulf. Abbreviate "Translated by" and type "Trans." and then the full name of the translator, first name first. (Copy the format without the quotation marks.) Place a period after the translator's last name.

    Step 4

    Abbreviate the title of Editor next with just "Ed." and follow the editor's full name, first name first. Place a period after the editor's last name.

    Step 5

    Input the city of publication followed by a colon, the name of the publishing company and the year published separated by a comma. For example, "New York: Publisher, 2011."

    Step 6

    Finish the citation with writing the medium of the publication. If you are using a physical book, type "Print."

    Anthology Publications

    Step 1

    Place Beowulf in your Works Cited list alphabetically under B. MLA citations traditionally begin with the name of the author, but since Beowulf's author is unknown, begin with the title.

    Step 2

    Italicize the title of the poem and put a period after it. Capitalize the first letter of the word. Shorter poems that only appear in anthologies are put inside quotation marks, but epic poems and those published individually as books are italicized instead.

    Step 3

    Follow the italicized title of the poem with the title of the anthology, also typed in italics and followed by a period. Capitalize all words except articles unless an article is first word in the title.

    Step 4

    Abbreviate the title of editor next with just "Ed." and the editor's full name, first name first. Place a period after the editor's last name.

    Step 5

    Input the city of publication followed by a colon, the name of the publishing company and the year published separated by a comma. For example, "New York: Publisher, 2011."

    Step 6

    List the page numbers in the Anthology where Beowulf is located in Arabic numerals with a hyphen between the first page number and the last. If the first digit(s) in the final page number are the same as in the first page number, write only the digits that differ in the citation, for example "221-76."

    Step 7

    Finish the citation with writing the medium of the publication. If you are using a physical book, type "Print."

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    Tip

    • For an in-line citation in the text of your paper, cite only the title of the work, Beowulf, and the line number(s) you are quoting in an in-line citation with Beowulf typed in italics. Sandwich the in-line citation with parentheses and place the punctuation at the end of the sentence outside the closing parenthesis.

    About the Author

    Based in Austin, Texas, Carrie Burns has been writing professionally since 2004, primarily ghostwriting corporate white papers and reviewing local theater productions. She has also spent time devising new works with cutting-edge theater ensembles. Burns holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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