Do You Capitalize Song Names In Essays

Simply put: no.

APA's Publication Manual (2010) indicates that, in the body of your paper, you should use italics for the titles of:

  • books
  • periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers)
  • films
  • videos
  • TV shows
  • Microfilm publications

Beyond APA's specific examples, know that certain types of titles are almost always written in italics. 

Use italics in a word-processed document for the types of titles you'd underline if you were writing by hand.  A general rule of thumb is that within the text of a paper, italicize the title of complete works but put quotation marks around titles of parts within a complete work. 

The table below isn't comprehensive, but it's a good starting point

Titles in ItalicsTitles Placed in "Quotation Marks"
Title of a periodical (magazine, journal, newspaper)              Title of article in a periodical
Title of a book   Title of a chapter in a book
Title of a movie or playName of an act or scene in a movie or a play
Title of a television or radio series   Title of an episode within a tv or radio series
Title of a musical album or CDTitle of a song
Title of a long poemTitle of a short poem
Names of operas or long musical composition
Names of paintings and sculptures

Title of a short story

On an APA-style reference page, the rules for titles are a little different.  In short, a title you would italicize within the body of a paper will also be italicized on a reference page.  However, a title you'd place in quotation marks within the body of the paper (such as the title of an article within a journal) will be written in normal lettering and will not be in quotation marks.

Here are some examples:

Smith (2001) research is fully described in the Journal of Higher Education.

Smith's (2001) article "College Admissions See Increase" was published in the Journal of Higher Education after his pivotal study on the admissions process.

The capitalization of songs should be done similarly to capitalization of titles. To punctuate, the titles should be written with a double quote (“ “) around it. Any punctuation that is part of the title such as commas, exclamation points or question marks, should also go inside the quotation marks.

Capitalization Rules for Songs

Song titles work similarly to other titles when it comes to punctuation; although, song titles can have some special rules as well.

Rules

  1. The first word and last word in the song’s title should be capitalized.
  2. All other nouns and active verbs should be capitalized.
  3. Conjunctions (and, but, or), short prepositions (in, out, by, for, from) and articles (a, an, the) are not capitalized unless they belong to the first rule of being the first or last word in the title. For prepositions, words that are four or less letters should not be capitalized. Words that are five or more letters should be capitalized, such as across, among or beyond.
  4. Some other short words should always be capitalized, such as also, as followed by a verb such as be, if, than, that, thus and when.
  5. Phrasal verbs also need to be capitalized. Phrasal verbs combine verbs and prepositions or adverbs into an idiomatic expression whose meaning differs from that of the actual definitions of the individual words used.

Examples of Phrasal Verbs

  • Beat Up
  • Call On
  • Come Back
  • Do Over
  • Fill In
  • Find Out
  • Hang Up
  • Leave Out
  • Put Off
  • Talk over
  • Try Out
  • Use Up

The capitalization of songs should be done properly when writing titles in essays or articles. Foreign language song titles should follow the capitalization rules of that language.

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Capitalization of Songs

By YourDictionary

The capitalization of songs should be done similarly to capitalization of titles. To punctuate, the titles should be written with a double quote (“ “) around it. Any punctuation that is part of the title such as commas, exclamation points or question marks, should also go inside the quotation marks.

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