How do I cite stand-alone sound recordings like MP3 or WAV files?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
To cite stand-alone audio files, begin with the MLA format template:
In the author-element slot, list the person or persons responsible for creating the work found on the file. If the work has no creator—for example, if the file records children at a park singing “Happy Birthday” or dogs barking—leave the author element blank.
In the “Title of source” element, list the title of the work you are citing (e.g., the song); if you do not know the title, include a description of the work or the name of the file.
In the “Publication date” element on the template, include the date the recording was created, if known; otherwise, list the date the file was created in the optional-element slot at the end of the entry.
It would also be useful to include the file type as an optional element, since knowing the medium of publication may help the reader better understand the work.
Here are a few sample entries:
MLA Jug Band. “Handbook Hootenanny.” MP3 file, created 6 Apr. 2017.
“Happy Birthday.” MP3 file, created 5 June 2014.
Recording of dogs barking. MP3 file, created 5 Feb. 2011.
Salinas, Lois. Recording of live reading of Beowulf. 10 Jan. 2017. WAV file.
Tanner, Rumeli. “FinalAlbum_toMTAudio_forMastering.” WAV file, created 3 Mar. 2016.
If your discussion focuses on work performed by someone other than the artist—say, the person who mastered the song—list that person in the other-contributor slot:
MLA Jug Band. “Ode to the Core Elements.” Mastered by Seelie Thomas, 25 May 2017. WAV file.