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How to Quote a Song in MLA Format

by Harrison Pennybaker, Demand Media

    Song lyrics have a deep meaning that can resonate with your beliefs and experiences. On occasion, you may even find it appropriate to quote from or to cite a song in a paper. Luckily, the Modern Language Association (MLA) style for citations has a format for citing just about everything -- including songs.

    Step 1

    Determine the exact name of the song and the artist(s) that you are citing. Songs or artists, especially those listed on the Internet, may not be properly named. Go to the original source -- such as the CD -- or find a reliable site for determining the song and artist name -- such as iTunes.

    Step 2

    List the name of the performer(s) or composer(s), starting with the last name of the artist or artists, followed by a period. If you're listing the song "Changes," by David Bowie, you would write: Bowie, David. If the artist is a band, list only the band name as it appears on the track -- for example: Talking Heads.

    Step 3

    Follow the artist's name with the name of the song in quotation marks. Staying with the prior example, you would write: "Changes." Follow the song name with a period.

    Step 4

    Add the album name, in italics. The name of the album on which the example song "Changes" is found is Hunky Dory. So, Hunky Dory would follow "Changes," in italics. Also follow this with a period placed within the quotation marks.

    Step 5

    List the recording label that produced the track along with the date of release, separated by a comma, and followed with a period. For example: RCA, 1971.

    Step 6

    List the format in which you have found the song. Formats include cassette, compact disc, MP3 and others. Finish with a period.

    Step 7

    Double-check that you've listed the information properly and in proper format. Your citation should look similar to this complete example: Bowie, David. "Changes." Hunky Dory (in italics). RCA, 1971. MP3.

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    About the Author

    Harrison Pennybaker began writing in 2004. He has written as a student and a journalist, specializing in travel, arts and culture, and current affairs. He holds a Master of Arts in political science from the University of Ottawa and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in political science at the University of Washington.

    Photo Credits

    • music book. manuscript. music score image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

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