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How To Cite Song Lyrics In Different Formats



Music is a form of art that can be used as a reference source for any type of academic work. Just like a poem or painting that you may mention in your college papers, you can refer to a song in your assignments, especially if you study music theory or something like that. Therefore, it’s important to know how to cite lyrics in the right way in order to avoid potential troubles that can lower your grades. Before we move to citation instructions, let’s find out why one needs to follow them.

First of all, proper citation acknowledges the authors of the content you’ve used in your paper; it gives them credit for the work they’ve done. Also, it allows your readers to find the sources you’ve used and learn more about the ideas you’ve mentioned in your writing. Note that if you can cite your sources accurately, you are more likely to build your credibility as a scientist.

You probably know that high-quality research requires much attention to detail, which is a skill that can be developed. You can work on it by creating source citations as they entail a lot of components that must be thoroughly checked. While you are forming a bibliography, you are training your ability to become more detail-oriented. This way, you are becoming a better academic writer.

However, if you don’t even know how to start and are not acquainted with the standards of citation, you can always find help on the web. Today, there are numerous online tools that you can use in order to get your citation done. One of them is uk.edubirdie, which is a program that generates citations almost instantly. If you want to make an accurate bibliography with no mistakes, you can ease this process with the help of the mentioned tool offered by EduBirdie. What’s more, by using it, you can save time for research or other priorities.

Different citation formats have different requirements for adding song lyrics. There is no need to worry about the right citation, as you can easily do it with the help of study apps and our recommendations given below. 

MLA 8 Format

If your paper is written in MLA format, you have to add the artist’s name and the section cited. When it comes to songs, you need to identify the duration of time that contains the quoted lyrics. In this format, you can use both parenthetical and narrative citations that must be given in rounded brackets at the end of a sentence. The details must be separated using a space bar like this  ‘(Name Time)’. An example of this kind of citation could be (Miles Davis 1:50-2:05). If you want to use a narrative in-text citation for song lyrics, you have to add the same details but in a modified way. Namely, you have to write ‘According to Miles Davis, … (1:50-2:05)’

To add a bibliographic entry for song lyrics in MLA format, you need to start with writing an artist’s surname, then add the song’s title inside double quotation marks, and make the album’s entry italicized. The last details you must include are the recording manufacturer and the release date. Here is an example: Miles Davis. “Give It Up.” Rubberband, Rhino Records. 1985,

APA 7 Format

According to the APA style rules, you can also use both parenthetical or narrative in-text citations for songs. APA style citation scheme is different from MLA as it includes the artist’s last name and production date which must be placed in rounded brackets. A parenthetical citation could look like this ‘(Miles Davis 1985)’, while a narrative one like this – ‘Miles Davis (1985) sang about …’

Bibliographic entries in APA 7 must be added to the last page of your paper. They must consist of the following details: the artist’s surname, song’s name in italics, medium in square brackets, producer, and a URL link if possible. As an example, you can use the following citation: Davis (1985). Give It Up [CD]. Rhino Records.


If you want to support the arguments with the help of lyrics in your paper written in Chicago/Turabian format, you have to use only parenthetical citations. They consist of the artist’s surname and production date separated with space and given inside of rounded brackets at the end of a sentence, like in APA format – (Davis 1985).

 A credible bibliography entry in Chicago/Turabian requires the name of a composer or performer, the song’s title in italics, date of recording, producers, medium, and a link if applicable. You can use the following citation as a model: Miles Davis. Give It Up. 1985. Rhino Records, CD.

Author’s BIO

Joshua Robinson is a popular expert in academic writing. He works as a writer and editor at an online essay service for students and helps young people complete their assignments. Joshua believes that great academic achievements are possible only if one gets consistent assistance and support.

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