How to Use Lyrics in Essay Writing

How to Use Lyrics in Essay Writing
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Lyrics are an effective tool that can help you make your writing more emotional and better express some ideas. For example, if some song perfectly illustrates your point, you can cite its lyrics if the type of your essay allows you to do so. Learn more about using lyrics in writing with College Writers.

Sometimes, you may not have enough fresh ideas, brainstorming on some topic over and over again, but suddenly you hear a song that expresses your thoughts clearly, in a concise way. If this situation looks familiar to you, it means that you may try to use such a song in your essay. In addition, it’s a great way to make your academic text less boring.

However, using songs in writing may turn out to be not an easy task because of copyright issues. Fortunately, there is no law that would determine the number of words you’re allowed to use in your texts. The main thing is to use in-text citations and to write a proper reference page so that you won’t need to worry about plagiarism.

How to Quote Songs

There are many different citation formats, such as APA, MLA, Harvard, etc. Every citation style has its requirements that you should follow. What these styles have in common is that you should use both in-text citations in parentheses and a references list. The way you should write citations for lyrics may vary.

For example, when quoting lyrics in MLA style, you should provide the artist’s name after the quote, in parentheses. When writing citations according to Harvard or APA format, you should also include the year and the number of the track on the album.

When citing songs, you should always use quotation marks. However, if your quote is several lines long, you should use a block quote, indenting the citation from the paragraph.

How to Quote Lyrics in References

You should also make notes in the references list, providing the name of the album that contains the song. For instance, when writing references according to MLA style, you should include an artist’s name first, followed by the name of the album, the recording studio, and the date. You might also specify the format:

The Artist. The Album. Studio, 1995. CD.

If you’ve used a website instead of a physical copy, you should provide the URL, after the year.

When writing references in Harvard or APA format, they should look like this:

The Artist. (1995). The Album. [CD]. City: Recording Studio (Recorded 1994).

Quotation Marks vs. Italics

When citing songs, many students cannot figure out whether they should use quotation marks or italics. Fortunately, there are simple rules: write the title of a song in quotation marks, and italicize the names of albums and CDs.

Keep in mind that if the title of the song ends with an exclamation point or question mark, they must stay within quotation marks. However, the punctuation may also go beyond the quotation marks if it’s not a part of the title.

Final Thoughts

We recommend that you keep in mind the following tips when citing songs in your essays.

  • Avoid clichés. Some songs are too popular and some lyrics are cited too often so they won’t help you support a specific point.
  • Don’t try to include as many lyrics as you can. If you want to cite a big fragment of a song, the best way to do it is to paraphrase. Select a few lines that are directly related to your argument and cite them.
  • Think of what your readers will imagine. Songs are poetic so they evoke certain images in your readers’ minds. If you’ve selected lyrics that don’t serve this purpose, we recommend that you try to describe your thoughts in another way.

Using lyrics when writing academic essays is a good idea. However, we recommend that you check out our tips and make sure that you know how to do it properly so that your paper will look professional.

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