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How to Put a Song & Artist in MLA Format


If you need to write in your research paper or essay about a song, cite lyrics, talk about a performer's voice or reference a piece of music in any other way, the Modern Language Association style, which is used mainly in literature and the humanities, allows you to do so. You can cite a single artist, a band or even an orchestra. MLA style also allows you to add information you deem important, such as the recording date, composer or conductor.

Citing a Song

Need to cite a song? No problem. Include the artist's name (or band or group name), the song title, the album title, the label, year of release and medium (such as CD, cassette, LP or MP3). If you want to cite the entire album, just leave the song title out. If you have a digital file but can't determine the type, just write "Digital file" for medium.

Swift, Taylor. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Red (italicized). Big Machine Records, 2012. CD.

Extra Info

While citations are generally listed by artist or band name, you can also begin with the composer (comp.), conductor (cond.) or performer -- or group of performers, such as an orchestra -- (perf.) if this person or group holds greater importance. You can also include such information after the album title, like so: Comp. Ludwig van Beethoven.

If the recording date is relevant to your essay, you can include that information before the label name: Rec. 12 Dec. 2010.

About the Author

Paige Johansen has been writing professionally since 2003. She holds a B.A. in psychology and English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from The University of Virginia. Between degrees, she worked in the fashion industry for two years.

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