How do you format a poem inside of a novel? I am not sure how to go about it. What are some popular ways of introducing a poem inside a novel.

Let's say that the character reads a poem from a small sheet of paper. He reads it and then you end the paragraph and then just dump the whole poem after that paragraph. Is there a proper way to format the poem?

I am guessing you have to center it, but I am not sure if you should use a different font, and how to introduce it. Should you use a generic phrase like: "The poem read as follows:"?

  • 1
    "Mechanical" style issues such as this depend on the place you want to publish. Check how others have done it for the same publisher or editor. Or teacher or prof if it is a homework assignment. See if they have an official style guide.
    – BillOnne
    Dec 16, 2022 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


Poems in a novel are generally formatted in a narrower column, either centered (the column, not text in it) or indented, aligned left, and for some reason usually in italics. (Personally I'd prefer keeping the font regular, but such is the custom.)

Whether you say something like "and here it is" in the narration or just go like the this:

Our hero sprung on the table and started to sing.

          "Row, row, row your boat,

          gently down the stream..."

...is up to you and what works.

One example of a novel that contains a lot of poems is the Lord of the Rings. Open it, or any other novel with poems in it that you know, and you're likely to see how it's usually done.


I wouldn't centre it but I would double indent it and then set it out like a poem with line breaks where you expect. You might introduce it by having the character say, 'I'm now going to read you the most beautiful poem in the world from the most beautiful girl in the world' or something equally as cliched, if that is what the character would say.

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