How to Quote Song Lyrics in An Essay: Doing It Correctly

How to Quote Song Lyrics in an Essay: Enhancing Your Essay by Adding Lyrics

Your essay should be informative and evoke emotions. Using song lyrics is among the ways to achieve this. Also, if coming up with ideas is difficult, citing music lyrics can give you a head start and bearing to find relevant arguments and issues of discussion. 

Song lyrics also play a significant role in helping one create an interesting read. If you are looking forward to keeping your lecture glued and curious about the essay, incorporate musical lyrics aside from other writing elements. Using song lyrics accurately in an essay is a sign of creativity, making your essay enjoyable to read. So let’s review how to properly do quotations and citations of songs in any sound recording medium. 

Quoting Lyrics and In-Text Citations 

The first essential point to note when using song lyrics in your in-text citations is that you have to place the lyrics inside quotation marks. For example, a statement can take this form: In the song “Happiest year,” Jaymes Young sings, “Wake me up when they build that time machine.” After quoting the music lyrics, the in-text citations fall immediately after the quoted lyrics. 

If you intend to insert longer lyrics, you should utilize the block quote, whereby the indentation applies to the whole quotation. When using Modern Language Association format citation for your essay writing, note that the artist’s name should be included in the main text, and it’ll appear as: (Jaymes Young). For APA in-text citation, you’ll highlight the artist’s name, publication date, and track number, and your citation will appear as (Jaymes Young, 2017, track 3). Remember to include the comma separating the elements in the bracket. 

Right Way to Quote Songs in Academic Essays

The downside of incorporating song lyrics in academic papers is copyright infringement. It’s why sometimes one has to purchase an essay writing service to be sure that the essay will be handled properly and to boost their essay writing skills. Once you’ve sharpened your writing skills and been informed about all the writing styles, it’ll be much easier to quote any supporting evidence from a song.  

In an essay, you should give accolades to the original song owner through citations to avoid plagiarism. Placing the lyrics inside quotation marks is a way to achieve that. Once you incorporate the lyrics, the essay will be more interesting to read. In line with this, experts recommend finding songs that haven’t been used before since some are often quoted and may not help you support the argument as much as you would want. 

Also, only cite a specific section of the music lyrics that directly applies to the subject matter. Highlighting a big part of the song may lead to plagiarism. Therefore, if you have to use other sections of the music lyrics, try and paraphrase the lyrics, then add quotations to the parts that specifically relate to your essay. 

If you intend to quote song lyrics, they should evoke the reader’s emotions. Therefore, think through the music lyrics and determine if they’ll achieve the intended purpose before including them in your essay. Lastly, adhere to the various writing format, such as the MLA style. 

Quoting Lyrics in References

 Adding the song lyrics quotation to the in-text citations is not enough since you should include it in your reference list to void copyright infringement. Therefore, adhering to the MLA style or the instructed format is essential. Furthermore, you’ll assume ownership of the song without crediting the artists when citing music lyrics, resulting in plagiarism. Therefore, note the right procedure for indicating song lyrics in the reference list to avoid such. The details to be included in the reference list include the following:

  • Song title in full
  • Album name (if available)
  • Record label
  • Song’s publication date 

Once you have all these details, your citation in MLA style will appear as follows: Jaymes Young. “Happiest Year.” Feel Something (italicized). Atlantic Records 2017, for Modern Language Association format, while APA will follow this pattern: Jaymes Young. (2017). Happiest Year. Feel Something (italicize the album name) Atlantic Records (Recorded 2017). Whichever format your essay writing takes, ensure the details about the song are well arranged to avoid plagiarism. These reference ng styles might be confusing, but you can go through the educibly review to find out how you get assistance with your essay.

Should You Use Quotation Marks or Italics?

Quotation marks and italics are often interchanged when citing music lyrics, irrespective of whether you are using Modern Language Association format or any other style. Such slight mistakes can cause plagiarism. However, if one is meticulous, avoiding minor errors that jeopardize efforts of crafting an essay from scratch will be quite easy. 

Thankfully, it’s easy to master the rules of citing song lyrics seeing as they are straightforward. From stating the song title correctly to indicating the album name in italics, you’ll create the right citation in a few minutes without perusing several books for guidelines. 

When citing music lyrics, be sure to place the lyrics inside quotation marks. Also, acknowledge the significance of including any punctuation marks on the song title. They should all fall under quotation marks, whether an exclamation or a question mark. A missing punctuation mark alters the song title. However, if the title lacks quotation marks or extra signs, everything else should be written after the quotation marks. 

How Many Song Lyrics Can Be Used Without the Owner’s Permission? 

When citing someone else’s work, regardless of the sound recording medium where it’s stored, you risk facing plagiarism, especially if certain rules are not followed. For example, the fair use doctrine of the United States allows individuals only to use a section of another person’s original work for scholarly reports and criticisms. 

Whether a personal use qualifies as fair use will depend on the circumstances under which it has been used. Therefore, when you finally decide to apply the lyrics, ensure you pick out only a portion of the work to avoid copyright infringement. Also, the right citations will align you with the fair use doctrine. If you intend to insert a huge chunk of the lyrics, paraphrase it to ensure only a section of the work falls under the quotation marks.   

Singing Off 

When quoting the song titles and other music details, it is essential to stick to the required layouts; the sound recording medium used doesn’t matter. Often, students are instructed on what format to apply. For example, the lyrics can be inserted using the Modern Language Association or APA format, depending on the instructions. If the format is adhered to, quoting song lyrics can add up as good supporting evidence. Also, it speaks volumes about one’s creativity. 

The preferred lyrics should integrate with the subject of discussion to make an impact. Finding ways of integrating the lyrics into the subject will make the quotation more relevant. The fair use doctrine allows one to utilize a section of music lyrics; however, there is no specification on the number of words that can be extracted from the song. Therefore, you can choose only the relevant section suitable for the essay. Use the above tips to achieve the right in-text citations and references to make your essay memorable.


Writing has always been a big part of who I am. I love expressing my opinions in the form of written words and even though I may not be an expert in certain topics, I believe that I can form my words in ways that make the topic understandable to others. Conatct:

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