How to Cite Songs in APA Format

The American Psychological Association (APA) writing style is frequently followed in social sciences. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Sixth Ed.) lays out specific rules for citations, including references to music and songs. Original papers should always include proper citation of outside sources to avoid allegations of plagiarism.

In-Text Citation

In-text citations parenthetically identify the song composer's last name and publication year. For example, an in-text citation would look like this:

(Kakish, 2013).

If a song is co-authored, both last names are cited.

For example: (Simms & Roberts, 2010).

Alternatively, you can include the citation information in the context of the sentence, like this:

Kakish (2013) told us never to quit in his popular song.

Reference List Citation

APA song citations begin with the composer's last name and initial. Copyright dates and song titles follow. If a song's recording artist is different from its composer, her first and last name should be placed in brackets after the song title, preceded by the words "Recorded by" (without the quotation marks). This is followed by the album title, preceded by the word "On," and then the recording medium in brackets. Next comes the record label's company location and label name, and if the recording date is different from the copyright date, it is placed at the end of the citation.

Citation Example

APA song citations capitalize only the first word in the song and album titles. Album names are italicized, which is noted parenthetically in the following example.

Kakish, R. (2013). Never say quit [Recorded by Bobby Blackstone]. On Big people live fast (italics) [CD]. London, England: Happy Dog Music Company.

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