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Updated on March 6, 2013


I had intended to send this Hub as a note to HubPages staff, but then I realized that the issues raised here affect every poet on HP, so I decided on a hub to reach as many of you as possible. If this Hub generates the kind of response I anticipate, I'll send the whole package to Hub staff. If they see a strongly united front, we stand a better chance for change.


Hundreds, if not thousands, of poets post their work on many sites in HP. Those who lay out their work in conventional line-lengths from left side of the page to right, probably have no formating difficulties with HP. Since the 1920s, however, format in modern poetry has been decidedly unconventional. Poets now may leave many spaces between words, write in single-space, then double-space, use single-word “paragraphs”, capitalize in a particular way in stanza one, then change the pattern later on. . . . .and so on.

The formatting availabilities on HP are so limited that poets often cannot layout their work the way they wish. I can't even illustrate what I mean, because if I lay out words below in what might seem a “scattered” manner, HP will “correct” them into a format that “it” has decided is the way it shall be ! How infuriating is that? Imagine a music producer changing the notes in a song because it was easier ! How might the composer react?

Let's get specific.


Most poets single-space their work, with a break between stanzas. If the lines are quite long, HP might permit the single-spacing. If, however, the lines are short, or single-word lines, HP will probably “decide” to DOUBLE-space all the lines of the poem. Never mind the impact this arbitrary editing can have on the poet's meaning, focus on the simple fact that that is NOT WHAT THE POET WANTS. She or he is the writer and should be the judge of how their work will be spaced.

We go to ridiculous lengths to get around this problem. Poets compose in Word, then try to copy and paste the whole poem onto HP. Sometimes that works, usually it doesn't. Or you can try composing in notepad, then transferring it in. The simple point is—why should we have to resort to these cunning strategies to circumvent problems created by our own carrier?


Many poets write “free” verse. One line will have three words in conventional order, the next line eight words, the next line four words, followed by ten spaces, then another word on that same line. HP will NOT permit this practice, even though that layout is critical to the poet's intent, hence critical to the way the reader will perceive the poem.

in other words, HP is actually dictating what a poet can and cannot do. I find it hard to believe that HP would be indifferent to this injustice.


This is the cyber-age. Anything technological is possible. Poetry is enjoying a long-overdue resurgence of interest worldwide, readership is up, publishing is up, on-line resources for poets are increasing--so alternatives to HP are increasing. I refuse to believe that correcting these problems is beyond the capabilities of HP technical staff. Poets WANT to stay with HP. It is family. It is also a huge site with millions of readers and participants. We also contribute to HP's advertising base, and we deserve HP's consideration on these simple requests:

  1. Permit single-spacing when the poet wants it
  2. Permit word placement wherever the poet wants it
  3. Pay attention to whatever other formatting requests poets bring to light in their comments on this Hub,

FELLOW POETS – please comment on this Hub. Be specific. Give examples. Be indignant. Let HP staff know that these are serious issues for us, and we demand significant action.

The hottest part of Hell is reserved for the fence-sitters.


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    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks for responding to my question again - I am frustrated that I cannot freely write a poem on hubpages without having to read through all the guff - my creativity takes anose dive everytime I open a new hub and start to write - even with my stories. It has become impossible for me to express myself at all when everytime I log in to hubpages I have to check for missing links and 'non-featured' hubs due to lack of whatever they have decided is todays bug. I am seriously thinking of moving on to pastures new...thanks for writing this hub and reminding me to read it again. I did comment the last time but rereading it and reading all the comments again and once again given me food for thought. Pinned and shared!

    • Canscorpion profile image

      Nimra Aijaz 4 years ago from Steel Town

      Moonfroth Thanks a lot for this hub and such a useful discussion. This subject had always been a cold-war between the poets of HP and the capsules on teh hubs....the irritation felt and the time it takes to get your poetry presented even somehow close to what you wanted it to look like- blows the beauty out of it. I'm glad somebody voice out this issue. This is a voice of all poets at Hubpages!

    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 4 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      My poem called "I Lived a Lie" has one paragraph that needs to be indented, because it doesn't rhyme like the rest, and is meant to "sound" or appear more heartfelt than the rest. But I couldn't indent it, so I used squiggled dashes at the beginning of each line, but that was my second preference.

      Even non-poets can use an advanced formatting program: In my article called "Create Your Own 3-D Images," I tried to make a simple "Magic Eye" pattern with letters and words, but couldn't do it unless I used periods to regulate my spacing. Further along, I made two patches of periods, one of them having additional spaces between the periods. That was impossible, so I used a word processor and did a paste.

      How can we give additional incentives to get that program made? Perhaps writing a poem about the programmer who does it?

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      I write poetry also. I new formatting option for poets is need on HP. Thank you for speaking up in all of our behaves.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, yes and yes! I agree with what you have written here. Although poetry is not my main writing, I enjoy it and I like my lines placed in particular order, with particular spacing, etc. that unfortunately, I can't achieve at Hubpages. Glad you brought it up. I'm sharing so that it gets passed on.

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      THANK YOU! That's supportive comments from TEN fellow poets in a span of a few hours. Wonderful! Please keep the responses coming. I will find the best Hub staffer to approach with all this outrage,

    • profile image

      Denizee 4 years ago

      I've read most of this Hub and agree that it can be daunting to a poet to have to sit and reformat a poem but I've used a few good poetry sites on-line and format is always my job rather the website programmers. I'm happy just to have Hubpages as access to post my writing and get it out to the public. I completely understand the issue and if the owners of this site find an easier way to format poetry I can tell a lot of writers here would be very happy.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 4 years ago

      I couldn't agree with you more! Glad you are speaking out, and I hope you get the kind of response from HP staff we all deserve.

      Best wishes!

    • Trepid Odyssey profile image

      Trepid Odyssey 4 years ago from the beginning

      I couldn't read through all the comments, but I'd like to change the discourse a little bit. I don't think HubPages is "penalizing" poets, as you put it. Instead, I think they've merely written a program that is not designed with poets in mind. Why wouldn't they? We're undoubtedly a small part of this huge machine. What you're asking them to do is, to them, spend precious resources (personnel time spent making the changes) in order to provide for a small, niche market.

      Instead, I would like to suggest to HubPages that by making the changes we would like to see on formatting, they can increase their total traffic. I've decided not to put some of my poems on here because of formatting issues, and every poem I don't put on here is less potential business for HubPages. That's logic I think any business could understand.

    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      I am on this Boat of dissent with you,

      and I want my freedom back.

      God know we Poets get only fleeting viewers attention


      We should be allowed our accenting idiosyncrasies.


    • Theater girl profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Sometimes when my poems are reformatted....all my lines are off....thanks for addressing this problem!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      moonfroth - Thank you for addressing a major ongoing problem for poets which should neverhave been a problem at all. About half my work is poetry and I support your efforts 110%. Thanks for fighting the good fight on our behalf. Bless you! Theresa


    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 4 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      Hey, here's a thought...let's form our own poetry collective and do it our way :-)

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      moonfroth, I agree with you. When a poem is written, the formatting is of huge importance to the poet. It is critical to a poet that readers can grasp the meaning (often deep) and mood of the poem. Therefore, if the poets chosen format is changed -- meaning and mood can be lost and the impact of the poem is no loner there.

      Excellent and much need hub here, moonfroth. I thank you kindly, for I write many poems and always hope to be able to fully impart to my readers what my poem is about.

      I came to the decision to remove all my poetry from HP, for I am NOT happy with the scoring/not featured system at all. Before I remove them all, however, I am revising one poem a day to see if that makes any beneficial changes. So far it has, but, still, I want the option to format my poems the way I feel they will make the best presentation and impact. Yes, Sir!

      Voted Up Useful Awesome Interesting and Supportive. Yes, I know there is no Supportive button, but in my mind there is -- I think that is what the 'Useful' button means. haha!

    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 4 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      I have also Tweeted this Hub as I feel very strongly about it.

      I must echo the laments of Moonfroth and others. I have become quite disenchanted with the creative clot which Hubpages's format restrictions inflict upon my work.

      To that I would add the lack of sensitivity on the part of HP towards what poetry can be (such as the notice I received recently that a graphic poem I had posted could not be featured because it didn't meet their quality standards...meaning it wasn't formatted like a taco recipe and loaded with third party content). I ended up removing it from HP and posted it to my own site instead.

      Truth be told, I have begun to remove all of my poetry from HP to my own site where I don't have to deal with that sort of nonsense and format restrictions. It's something I regret and it's a slow process but right now I am just too disappointed to continue posting poetry here. :-(

    • Sunny River profile image

      Sunny River 4 years ago from A Place Without A Name which resides somewhere between Fantasy and Belief, just north of Reality

      This is true! I've actually avoided putting certain poems up on HP because they required a scattered format and I knew HP wouldn't let me do it that way. Its very disappointing. Something needs to be done about it and I hope for once they'll listen to us.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      I would love to be able to post more intense poetry here--yes, the occasional swear word or adult theme would really be nice--in addition to better formatting---

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      Thanks Leni. I was hoping for a FLOOD of response, all of which I could forward triumphantly to HP staff. Uh-Huh!

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 4 years ago from UK

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting - definitely have some very significant points there...

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I totally agree with all you've said. The sound, the feel of a poem can be changed dramatically on the way it is laid out. It is not only the spacing but some poems call for being centrered and that is just not possible on HP.

      The have catagories for poetry so why not cater for them professionally and do a proper job.

      If you do as others suggest and write your poem into an image then you are penalised for not enough content. It is a no win situation

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      I'm inclined to agree. I'll write you privately with some further thoughts. But i must say I've found some excellent poets and benefitted from some excellent feedback by having my stuff on HubPages and LinkedIn poetry sites.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Oh, I've been a member of Insomniacs International ever since I worked a 32 hour shift on the weekends to put myself through college. Now I take mild sedatives to get a full night's rest.

      I recently removed all of my poetry from HP and I think I will self-publish a book of poems on CreateSpace (an Amazon company). I plan to stick to prose here.

      I encourage all to put their poetry in a book. It's really more enjoyable that way, don't you think? No ads, you can illustrate it however you want. Books aren't dead just yet. They just need to be more user friendly.

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      Austin --thanks for the photoshop suggestion. Actually, Daisy (a few posts above), made a similar suggestion. You are quite correct, that Hubpqages is not designed for poetry, but since THOUSANDS of poets do indeed publish stuff on a wide range of Hub threads, why don't they accommodate the? Since other sites do so. why not here.

      And probably the only way you'd notice i'm up at 4:30 is if you were too. Welcome to Insomniacs International. You and I are the first two members!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Although I love poetry and have written many poems, HubPages is really not designed for poetry.

      That being said, there are a few tricks. You can type the poem into a photoshop type program using their font/text tool. Saved as a .jpg image, the formatting will be exactly as you like. However, it will be inserted as a 'photo', not text. No words will be counted for the hub.

      The other way is to use the 'code' capsule. This one is very difficult to learn and doesn't work all that well in my opinion.

      And what are you doing up at 4:30 a.m.? Moonfroth?

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      thanks Daisy--I will indeed read that Hub, tho not at the moment (4:29 AM)

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Clark (moonfroth),

      If you get a chance, please go back to my HP profile and access my article "Poetry Forms." In that Hub, you'll see examples of my haiga, tanka, Fibonacci, and trilinea poetry.

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      thanks Bob. If HP refuses to do something, to hell with them-- won't post any more poetry--and we both know how much THAT would upset them don't we!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Clark. I tried some of my poems that use space as well as verbiage, if I can put it like that, but gave up. I just send a few simple construction verses now and use Notepad (or Wordpad) to avoid being double-spaced by HP's mindless machinery.

      Worth noting that I am sure Hubpages dislikes poetry, too, as "it doesn't sell," read Google doesn't like it for its advertisers.


      Heroic effort mate.

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 4 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      You SEE what I've been talking about; and have thankfully put it into words. Yes, a separate format for poets should be allowed, AS WELL AS SWEAR WORDS when appropriate. Let's let them put that in their pipe and smoke it!!!! Oh, I adore you!

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      MARIE --

      Thank you for that link! If you can enjoy that kind of formal freedom on that site, why not on on HP? If you don't mind, I'll use your open layout on the coffee site as an example of what we need on HP.

    • MarieAlana1 profile image

      Marie Alana 4 years ago from Ohio

      If there is anymore confusion about what a poet would want to have their formatting like, you can compare my poems on HP with my poems at:

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      DAISY --

      Hi again Daisy, and thank you for the follow-up comment. I just took a quick tour of your site, trying to account for your use of the word "article" in the last sentence of your comment immediately above. I quickly scanned about thirty of your pieces and they were ALL articles in prose, so of course you have had no formatting difficulties with HP. Formatting prose is not the issue. Formatting poetry is the issue, noted (so far) by myself and 6 other HP poets.

      And just in passing--if I need a mechanical form of emphasis (capitals, italics, underlining, etc.), CAPITALS IS THE ONLY FORM AVAILABLE IN HP. STRIDENT AND UGLY, AIN'T IT?

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Clark (moonfroth),

      There are other software tools available which accomplish the same text formatting as Photoshop, some of which are free.

      I don't know anyone who has ever paid full retail for Photoshop. I certainly didn't. There are many companies selling Photoshop legally at deep discounts. Plus, there are "cloud" options for using Photoshop on a monthly fee basis.

      I have never experienced a "functional annoyance" regarding HubPages publishing any of my articles, so I can't address that point in your comment.

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      DAISY --

      Thank you for the tip about photoshop. I'll check out its relevance as a tech resource for poets. Not all of us, however, can loosen up the cash for this expensive program:


      the least expensive version of Photoshop is Photoshop Elements which costs $100 -……

      Photoshop Lightroom - $300

      Photoshop - $700

      Photoshop Extended - $1,000.


      That's a lot of money, Daisy--and by what logic should poets be penalized financially in addition to the functional annoyance they already put up with at HP?

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Clark (moonfroth),

      I understand that you're upset, but shouting (using all uppercase text) isn't going to help.

      Do you know how to use Photoshop? I've placed the words in my poems exactly where I want them by using Photoshop.

      If you go to my HP profile page, and click on the first article I've spotlighted, you'll see examples of a Fibonacci, haiku / haiga, trilinea, and tanka in which the text isn't all left-justified and the line spacing is varied.

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

      Great idea, Moonfroth!

      I would love see the kind of formatting freedom you are talking about.

      Voted "useful" and shared.

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      That's five strongly supportive votes from five fellow poets! I esp. like Chef-du-Jour's suggestion of some sort of "poetry" capsule HP could create that would function exactly like a COMPLETELY BLANK page. Then the poet could tab here and there and do exactly what they wanted. I'm no techie, but how hard can that be?

      Please tell all your friends to respond to this hub. Once I've got a gazillion responses, I'll see to it that it all gets to the right places at HP.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Bravo to you, moonfroth, for courageously taking this on. I do recall feeling powerless when I wrote my poems in a capsule as a newbie 6 months ago. I couldn't get it to look like I wanted it to look. And just when I got it as close as I could, I clicked save and preview, and the words were't where I put them! Arrrgh! I thought it was me, not knowing how to manipulate that formatting tool with all those confusing "headings" and "1, 2, 3s" that I still don't understand. Thanks for writing this hub. Voted up!

    • MarieAlana1 profile image

      Marie Alana 4 years ago from Ohio

      I have tried so many times to have my poems in the middle of the page, but it always goes to the left. The only thing I can do is to have my italicized, but that doesn't help much with the poem. Also, I have not found a way where I can just post a poem to a hub and have it be my entire hub. It never gets featured. It always comes up like it is substandard. It is so frustrating. So, I agree with you that there needs to be something done with this problem.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      Awesome , Yes , let me put the words where I will . !

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Amen! Amen! Amen! What we can do is so limited by the formatting allowed! Even a Tab spacing would help---Thank you for bring this is--and I will share with everyone!

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      I fully back what you're saying. Poetry form shouldn't be ruled by a limiting capsule on HP. If HP created a separate POEM capsule this would be ideal and allow poets the freedom to experiment with the form a poem needs, to be successful.

      Voted and shared.