Are Songs Italicized in MLA?

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Are Songs Italicized in MLA?

Are Songs Italicized in MLA?

When writing academic papers or articles in MLA (Modern Language Association) style, it is essential to follow the established formatting guidelines. One common question that arises is whether songs should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks when mentioned in the text. Let’s explore this topic in detail.

Key Takeaways:

  • Songs in MLA style are italicized.
  • Italicize the names of albums and notate the song name in quotation marks.
  • There are some exceptions, such as religious hymns or traditional songs.

Formatting Songs and Music Titles in MLA

In MLA style, songs should be italicized when mentioned in the text and lyrics should be enclosed in quotation marks. This rule applies to both standalone songs and those included in albums.

Album names should be italicized, while song titles should be in quotation marks. It is important to note that specifics may vary depending on the source. For example, if you are citing a song from an online platform or streaming service, follow their formatting guidelines.

Let’s examine a specific example to illustrate the formatting:

Forma’ting Example
Item Formatting in MLA
Song Title “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Album Title A Night at the Opera

As shown in the example, the song title “Bohemian Rhapsody” is enclosed in quotation marks, while the album title A Night at the Opera is italicized.

Exceptions to the Rule

While most songs follow the general guideline of being italicized, there are a few exceptions where the rule may not apply:

  • Religious Hymns: Religious hymns are often not italicized but capitalized instead. Always consult the authoritative source for specific citation guidelines when referencing religious songs in academic writing.
  • Traditional Songs: Traditional songs or folk songs that have become commonplace may not require italicization. Again, consult reliable sources to determine the appropriate formatting.

Tables Highlighting Common Song Formatting

Below are three tables that summarize the formatting guidelines for various situations commonly encountered when citing songs in MLA style:

Formatting a Standalone Song
Element Formatting in MLA
Song Title “Like a Rolling Stone”
Artist(s) Bob Dylan
Year of Release 1965
Formatting a Song from an Album
Element Formatting in MLA
Song Title “Hey Jude”
Album Title The Beatles (White Album)
Artist(s) The Beatles
Year of Release 1968
Formatting a Traditional Folk Song
Element Formatting in MLA
Song Title “Scarborough Fair”
Artist(s) Unknown/Traditional
Year of Origin Unknown


In MLA style, it is important to follow the established guidelines for formatting songs in academic writing. Remember to italicize song titles and enclose lyrics in quotation marks. However, exceptions may exist for religious hymns and traditional songs. Always consult appropriate sources and style guides to ensure accurate and consistent formatting.

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Common Misconceptions

Italicizing Songs in MLA

There is often confusion and misconceptions surrounding whether songs should be italicized or not in MLA style. Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions:

  • Songs should always be italicized in MLA style.
  • Italicizing songs is optional in MLA style.
  • Only the title of the song should be italicized, not the entire song lyrics.

Firstly, the misconception that songs should always be italicized in MLA style is incorrect. According to the MLA Handbook, the title of a standalone song should be enclosed in quotation marks, not italicized. Italicization is reserved for larger containers such as albums or classical music compositions.

  • Songs should be enclosed in quotation marks, not italicized.
  • Italicization is used for larger containers such as albums or classical music compositions.
  • Confusingly, song titles may be italicized in certain referencing styles, but not in MLA.

Secondly, italicizing songs in MLA style is not optional. MLA guidelines clearly state that the title of a standalone song should be enclosed in quotation marks, not italicized. It is important to adhere to the specific rules and guidelines of MLA when formatting your citations and references.

  • Italicizing songs in MLA style is not a matter of personal preference.
  • Following the proper MLA guidelines is crucial for accurate citation formatting.
  • Incorrectly italicizing songs in MLA-style citations may result in a loss of credibility.

Lastly, it is important to distinguish between italicizing the title of a song and italicizing the entire song lyrics. In MLA style, only the title of the song should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks, depending on whether it is a standalone song or part of a larger album or composition. The lyrics themselves should not be italicized.

  • Only the title of a song should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks, not the lyrics.
  • Properly distinguishing between the title and lyrics is important for accurate MLA formatting.
  • Italicizing the entire song lyrics in MLA style is incorrect and goes against the guidelines.
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Are Songs Italicized in MLA?

Are Songs Italicized in MLA?

When it comes to formatting references and citations in academic writing, adhering to the appropriate style guidelines is crucial. For those using the Modern Language Association (MLA) style, it is often a point of confusion as to whether songs should be italicized in their written work. In order to shed some light on this matter, the following tables present various examples and provide insight into the italicization of songs in MLA formatting.

Song Titles and Italics in MLA

Example Song Title Italicized?
1 Stairway to Heaven Yes
2 Hey Jude Yes
3 Bohemian Rhapsody Yes
4 Like a Rolling Stone Yes

According to MLA guidelines, song titles should be italicized when referred to in written documents. As evidenced in Table 1, notable songs such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “Hey Jude,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” are always italicized when mentioned in academic writing using MLA style.

Top 5 Italicized Songs in MLA

Rank Song Title Artist
1 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
2 Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin
3 Hey Jude The Beatles
4 Hotel California Eagles
5 Imagine John Lennon

Among the vast catalog of music, certain songs hold a significant place in popular culture and are consistently referenced in academic works. Table 2 presents the top five iconic songs that necessitate italicization in MLA style. The timeless compositions of artists such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Eagles, and John Lennon make up this illustrious list.

Italicized Song Genres in MLA

Genre Examples
Rock Hotel California, Stairway to Heaven
Pop Hey Jude, Like a Rolling Stone
Classical Moonlight Sonata, Symphony No. 9
R&B I Will Always Love You, What’s Going On
Hip Hop Lose Yourself, Juicy

The world of music encompasses various genres, each with its distinctive sound and style. When discussing different musical genres in an MLA formatted document, the titles of songs belonging to these genres should be italicized. The examples listed in Table 3 provide a glimpse into the vast array of genres, from rock and pop to classical, R&B, and hip hop.

Popular Artists and Their Italicized Hits

Artist Italicized Song Title
Michael Jackson Thriller
Madonna Like a Prayer
Bob Marley No Woman, No Cry
Elton John Your Song
David Bowie Space Oddity

Influential artists have produced numerous songs that have become permanent fixtures in our musical landscape. The chart-topping hits created by legendary figures such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bob Marley, Elton John, and David Bowie are just a few examples of works that require italicization in accordance with MLA guidelines.

Prevalence of Italics in Chart-Topping Songs

Year Billboard Top 100 Song Italicized?
2019 Old Town Road – Lil Nas X Yes
2018 God’s Plan – Drake Yes
2017 Shape of You – Ed Sheeran Yes
2016 Love Yourself – Justin Bieber Yes
2015 Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars Yes

Each year, the music industry produces chart-topping hits that captivate listeners worldwide. In Table 5, we observe that even contemporary songs like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, “God’s Plan” by Drake, “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars are subjected to the convention of italicization as per MLA standards.

Foreign Language Songs and Italics

Song Title Language
La Vie en Rose French
O Sole Mio Italian
Cielito Lindo Spanish
Konnichiwa Japanese
Auld Lang Syne Scots

Music transcends language barriers and has the power to touch our souls regardless of linguistic differences. When referring to foreign language songs in written work following MLA guidelines, titles like “La Vie en Rose” (French), “O Sole Mio” (Italian), “Cielito Lindo” (Spanish), “Konnichiwa” (Japanese), and “Auld Lang Syne” (Scots) should be italicized to signify their artistic nature.

Movie Soundtracks and Italicization

Movie Title Italicized Song Title
The Lion King Circle of Life
Titanic My Heart Will Go On
Dirty Dancing (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life
Pulp Fiction Misirlou
Top Gun Take My Breath Away

Movies often utilize the power of music through their soundtracks, creating lasting impressions on their audiences. Table 7 showcases examples from notable films such as “The Lion King,” “Titanic,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “Top Gun.” These movie soundtracks contain songs like “Circle of Life,” “My Heart Will Go On,” “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “Misirlou,” and “Take My Breath Away,” which should be presented in italics.

Italicized Songs in Broadway Musicals

Musical Italicized Song Title
Hamilton My Shot
The Phantom of the Opera The Music of the Night
Les Misérables I Dreamed a Dream
Cats Memory
Wicked Defying Gravity

Broadway musicals transport audiences to mesmerizing worlds through the magical combination of music, storytelling, and theatrics. Highlighting the finest compositions from musicals such as “Hamilton,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “Cats,” and “Wicked,” Table 8 underlines the requirement to italicize song titles to pay proper homage to these theatrical masterpieces.

Famous Opera Songs Requiring Italics in MLA

Opera Italicized Song Title
Carmen Habanera

Are Songs Italicized in MLA? – FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Are songs italicized in MLA?

Do I need to italicize the song title in an MLA essay?

How should I format song titles in my MLA citations?

Is there a difference in how I should format popular songs versus classical music titles?

Do I need to italicize songs in other citation styles like APA or Chicago?

Are lyrics included in MLA citations?

What about songs that are part of a larger musical work like a concept album or a symphony?

Is there a different formatting rule for instrumental songs without lyrics?

Should I italicize songs in MLA presentations or slideshows?

Are there instances where song titles should not be italicized?