Posted by: Debra Alexander / wordmavenmusic | February 22, 2013

How To Format Lyrics

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You’ve worked hard to polish the lyrics of your song, and that shows on the page, as well as a vocal performance. To present your lyrics in the best light for a reader, put them in the proper format. This is especially true when submitting to song critiques, song contests, liner notes, online blogs, etc.

General Guidelines:

1. Break your lyric lines so that structure (AAA, AABA, ABCABC, VCVC, V preC C V preC C, VCVCBC, etc.) is revealed.

Try to keep sections in groups of 4 or 6, or 2 or 3 lines. Separate each section with one space. For example, a 6-line verse might have a 3 line pre-chorus, and there would be one space between them. I prefer to indent and use one space between new, non-repeating sections because it’s a cleaner look; some people label each section.  I like to leave intros and tags inline with the sections closest to them. If a section has tons of lyrics, like in a rap song—realize that 4 lyric lines usually equals 8 bars of music—so 8 lines of lyrics would equal 16 bars of music.

2. Break your lyric lines so that your rhyme scheme is revealed.

Use common sense and a good eye for presentation on the page. Use a standard font like Arial or Helvetica, in a readable font size, like 12 or 14. You want your reader to be able to follow along easily and grasp your meaning without struggling to see it or make sense of form.

3. Clearly indicate the song title and the songwriters at the top of the page, and the contact information (songwriter or publishing company, performing rights affiliation, address, e-mail, and phone number) at the bottom of the page.

Here’a one example of a possible template:

Song Title                                                          Songwriter(s)

 

Verse 1——————————————– Line 1

Verse 1——————————————– Line 2

Verse 1——————————————– Line 3

Verse 1——————————————– Line 4

 

Chorus————————————— Line 1

Chorus————————————— Line 2

Chorus————————————— Line 3

Chorus————————————— Line 4

 

Verse 2——————————————– Line 1

Verse 2——————————————– Line 2

Verse 2——————————————– Line 3

Verse 2——————————————– Line 4

 

Chorus————————————— Line 1

Chorus————————————— Line 2

Chorus————————————— Line 3

Chorus————————————— Line 4

 

Bridge———————————–Line 1

Bridge———————————–Line 2

Bridge———————————–Line 3

Bridge———————————–Line 4

 

Chorus————————————— Line 1

Chorus————————————— Line 2

Chorus————————————— Line 3

Chorus————————————— Line 4

 

© Writer or Publishing Company (PRO) Contact Address, E-mail & Phone

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Tania Joy and commented:
    Check out this great post by our SAC mentor Debra Alexander on How To Format Lyrics that will ensure a tidy presentation and clarity for the reader. Thank you Debra!

  2. […] Here is my submission for Assignment 2: (with a little tip from our SAC mentor Debra Alexander on How To Format Lyrics) […]

  3. Hello! This is great! It’s really very clear and concise! I remember studying something like these diagrams when we were analyzing symphonic structures in my Harmony classes. My teacher was a great choral director, but I had problems figuring out how to write some of the assignments. You can’t be too clear in explaining the techniques musicians use. Thanks for sharing this. Love, Mom

    • Dear Mom, Thanks for visiting my Blog and taking the time to comment on it. Thanks for all the piano and theory lessons! Thanks for making those PB&Js and putting them in the pail so we could hoist them up to the treehouse! xoxo!


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