How Do I Quote Song Lyrics In An Essay

Ask the MLAworks-cited list

How do I cite song lyrics?

The way you cite song lyrics will vary depending on how you access them and how much information you include in the body of your essay.

If you cite song lyrics from a CD you listened to, you might simply refer to the song in your essay:

“You say you got a real solution,” the Beatles sing in “Revolution 1.” 

You can then provide a works-cited-list entry for the album that contains the song. Follow the MLA template of core elements: list the name of the performer or band as the author, the name of the album as the title of the source, the publisher, and the date. In the optional-element slot at the end of the entry, list the format:

If you cite song lyrics from a booklet accompanying the CD, list a description in the “Title of source” slot and the name of the album as the title of the container:

The Beatles. Booklet. The Beatles, EMI Records, 1968.

If you cite lyrics from a Web site, provide a description in place of the title. Then provide the name of the Web site, publication information for the site, and the URL:

The Beatles.  Lyrics to “Revolution 1.” Genius, 2017,

Published 11 October 2017

I'm peer-reviewing/editing a paper for a final in my English course and in it, the author has a character singing a song (of the author's creation). The character is singing in dialogue, like so:

"It's time to stand up and be a man/Be the husband that you told her you were gonna be/Forever/But I can't see what's wrong with you/You've got a wife, a hot one too/If you keep this up you won't end up together"

The problem I'm having is I'm not sure if the slash should be in the dialogue. At the same time, I don't know what she could put in that gets across the same meaning. Ellipsis? Commas? Write it in sentence form with correct punctuation and say that the character sang the words?

Also, I don't like that there's no spaces between a word and the slash, but I don't know if that's necessarily something "wrong" or if it's something I just don't like. But to be fair, I don't like the slashes because I think they make the dialogue hard to read. The previous editor removed the punctuation in this part of her writing, but left the slashes in. I'm not sure if this editor also removed the spaces around the slashes or if it was always like that. However, I feel like punctuation would make this altogether way more easy to read.

There is a point in the text where the same song is playing on the radio and the narration has the lyrics, centered and italicized. Like so:

But I can't see what's wrong with you

You've got a wife, a hot one too

If you keep on looking you won't end up together

And I think this works even though nothing ends with punctuation. The author said the previous editor removed the slashes and the punctuation from the narration lyrics. I'm inclined to believe that removing the slashes was the right move (it matches up with the MLA guide for citing poetry) but I'm not particularly sure about leaving the italics or the punctuation removal.

To clarify, we aren't using the MLA format. Even if we were using that format, more than three lines would be made into a block and wouldn't be in one line, in the case of the first example. Also she just flat out made up the song that she's using (I'm not using her lyrics), so it's not like she needs to follow the guidelines for citing poetry. The other editor didn't actually leave notes as to why he or she made the changes they did make, so I'm not sure if they're following some standard I'm not aware of or if they just made stuff up or what.

I want to remove the slashes and make the song into a block in the dialogue and I want to put punctuation in the blocks. But I don't want to "correct" her if she's already correct or if it's just stylistic choice. I tried looking this up, but I don't really get very much information, just stuff on MLA or APA format. Is there a standard for dealing with lyrics in dialogue and narration in creative writing?

The song I used was Is She Not Hot Enough? from American Dad. Sorry, it's just stuck in my head right now.


asked Apr 30 '14 at 19:31

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