How you cite a song depends on how you accessed it. If you listened to the song on physical media like a vinyl album or CD, follow the MLA format template. List the performer or band as the author and then the title of the song. List the name of the album as the title of the container and then provide the publication details for the album. In the optional-element slot at the end of the entry, indicate the format:
If you listened to the song through a music streaming service, provide the name of the platform as the title of the container, the publisher of the site (if any), and the URL:
To learn how to document a song that you downloaded from an app like iTunes, see this post.
To cite a song downloaded online and listened to through an app like iTunes, follow the MLA format template.
List the name of the performer and the title of the song. Then provide any additional elements provided by the source, including the name of the record label as the publisher and the song’s release date:
U2. “You’re the Best Thing about Me.” Island Records, 2017.
If the song is from a collection, list the album title in the “Title of container” slot:
Belle and Sebastian. “The Model.” Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, Matador, 2000.
The publication details displayed will depend on the software and may be incomplete (e.g., the mobile app for iTunes may display different information than the desktop app), and you may need to consult other reliable sources (e.g., the iTunes Store site) to supply as much of the missing information as you can.
App as Version
The fact that you download a song from a particular Web site to listen to on a personal device does not need to be accounted for in your citation. The software application that you use to listen to the song is also generally not necessary to specify in your entry, but you can electively include it in the “Version” slot:
U2. “You’re the Best Thing about Me.” iTunes app, Island Records, 2017.
Other Uses of the Version Slot
If a specific version of the album is specified, list it along with the name of the app in the “Version” slot:
Sleater-Kinney. “The Fox.” The Woods, bonus track version, iTunes app, Sub Pop Records, 2005.
If the source provides the original date of the song as well as the date it was subsequently released in a collection, list the original song date in the optional-element slot after the title:
Gaye, Marvin. “Can I Get a Witness.” 1963. The Very Best of Marvin Gaye, Motown, 2001.
Sometimes, the file format might be important to know–for example, in a paper on the musical quality of a recording. In such cases, list the file format in the optional-element slot at the end of the entry:
Some Band. “Demo Recording of Track 1.” Mastered by DL Studios, 2017. WAV file.
To cite a last will and testament, which is an unpublished legal document, follow the MLA format template. A basic entry should include a description of the will in the “Title of source” slot and the date the will was signed in the “Publication date” slot:
If it will be useful for your reader to know who notarized the document, list the notary’s name in the “Other contributors” slot:
If the will is clearly written by the individual whose estate it details—say, in the example of a handwritten will—include the writer in the “Author” slot:
To cite a video game, follow the MLA format template to construct your entry. Provide any relevant information about the game provided by the version of it you are looking at. Of particular significance with video games is the version of the game and the platform on which the game is played.
Minecraft. Java ed. for Mac, 2017.
Pac-Man. Atari, 1982.
Pac-Man. Arcade version, Midway, 1983.
Pac-Man. Windows PC version, Namco Networks, 2009.
Pac-Man. Google, Google Doodle version, 2010.
Pac-Man. Virgin American in-flight version. Accessed 6 June 2017.
Pitfall. Atari version, Activision, 1982.
Pitfall. Intellivision version, Activision, 1982.
If you need to refer readers to particular parts of the game, in your in-text citation use the numbering system, if any, used by the game.
Few Donkey Kong players reach the blue kill screen (level 22).
It’s not uncommon for a writer to discuss two or more works with the same title. For example, a writer may compare different editions or translations of the same work or discuss a written work and its film adaptation with the same title.
When identical titles are styled identically—such as the italic titles of a novel and film of the same name—writers need to distinguish the works from one another in the context of discussing them. Pay special attention to points where your writing transitions from one work to another. To avoid confusion about identically titled works, these transitions should be clear and obvious.
Two years after Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, the film To Kill a Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, was released. Lee’s novel is narrated by Finch’s daughter, who is called Scout, while the film relies less heavily on Scout’s first-person narration.
The courtroom scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird are shortened in the film version, which also doesn’t explore the aftermath of the trial.
In-text citations can also aid in differentiating works with identical titles.
An early scene in To Kill a Mockingbird establishes Atticus’s character as well as the nature of his relationship with Scout. Atticus tells her, “You never really understand someone until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee 30).
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Grand Central Publishing, 2015.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Directed by Robert Mulligan, Universal Pictures, 1962.
Begin the entry as you would any other: consult the MLA format template. List the title of the video in the “Title of source” slot and the title of the Web site where you watched the video in the “Title of container” slot.
Rubier, Jeremy, director. Gui Martinez: A Short Film and Photo Essay. Vimeo, uploaded by Poweredby.tokyo, May 2017, vimeo.com/channels/staffpicks/216976160.
Keep in mind that some information may not be available, and other information may be included. In the example below, the video has no author, director, or producer, so work with what you have:
Slip Slip Knit (SSK). YouTube, uploaded by TheKnitWitch, 14 Feb. 2007, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGwcYW3GG3M.
If it’s not clear that the work you’re citing is a video—for example, if a song by the same title appears on the site—include the medium of publication in the optional-element slot at the end of the entry:
Beyoncé. “Pretty Hurts.” Beyoncé, www.beyonce.com/video/. Video.
To cite an audiobook, include the book’s author and title along with the publication details for the audiobook version. If noteworthy or relevant, list the narrator in the Other Contributors slot. Give the publisher of the audiobook in the Publisher slot. The medium of publication can be listed in the final optional-element slot:
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. Narrated by Claire Danes et al., Audible, 2017. Audiobook.
If you downloaded the audiobook to a device, don’t include the Web site from which you downloaded it. (In the example above, Audible is included as the publisher of the audiobook, not as its seller or distributor.)
If it’s important for your reader to know the format of the audiobook, include it in the optional-element slot at the end of the entry:
Berendt, John. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Narrated by Jeff Woodman, Random House Audio, 1997. Audiobook, 10 cassettes.
If you listened to the audiobook (or a clip from it) on the Web, include the Web site as a second container:
Heaney, Seamus, translator. Beowulf. Narrated by Heaney, audiobook, abridged edition, HighBridge Audio, 2006. Audible.com, www.audible.com/pd/Classics/Beowulf-Audiobook/B002V5CVPY/.
In-text citations for audio sources should include the relevant time or range of times in hours, minutes, and seconds:
To cite a personal interview that occurred on more than one day, begin by following the MLA format template. In general, treat the person being interviewed as the author. Then follow the guidelines on pages 28–29 of the MLA Handbook and include the description interview as the “Title of source” element. You may list the interviewer’s name as an “Other contributor” after the description. In the “Publication date” slot, treat the dates of the interview as a range if they are consecutive:
If the dates are not consecutive, treat them as a series:
Include the page span in your in-text citation:
See the MLA Handbook, section 2.5.1, for how to style nonconsecutive page ranges.
Two titles are listed under Austen’s name in the list of works cited, the novel Mansfield Park
and a letter Austen wrote:
Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Edited by Kathryn Sutherland, Penguin Books, 2014.
———. “To Cassandra Austen.” Jane Austen’s Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 1995, pp. 25-28.
The short title tells the reader which of the two works is being cited.