How do I format and cite partial song lyrics at the beginning of a chapter? Can all lines be centered?


Chapter 19

Sweet Dreams

Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I travel the world

And the seven seas,

Everybody's looking for something


  • I found a link that may help you. It seems the best advice would be along the lines of what surtsey said. It seems fairly costly for people to do lyrics and I doubt most new or unknown writers have the ability to pay the required fees and royalties. mademers.com/the-perils-of-using-song-lyrics-in-your-book
    – ggiaquin16
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


Yes, and italicized, if you wish. Stephen King staggered NIN lyrics in The Dark Tower series; others have put them justified left. I would, however, not double space them, as it makes it seem like poetry.

  • While this directly answers the question, it should be noted to readers and the OP that adding in lyrics to a book can be very costly as I have found multiple sources citing the advice against such practices unless you have the means to afford it.
    – ggiaquin16
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:19

The short answer is you may format the lyrics any way that pleases you.

The long answer is: don't do it at all!

Permissions for the use of song lyrics are extremely hard to get (Why would the Eurythmics want to associate themselves with you?).

If you obtain permission: the first thing to do is to refinance you house.

For one line of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”: £500

For one line of Oasis’s “Wonderwall”: £535

For one line of “When I’m Sixty-four”: £735.

For two lines of “I Shot the Sheriff” £1,000.

Note: that's pounds-sterling no US dollars!

  • 2
    Can you cite a source for those numbers? Not that I doubt you, it is just useful to know where they come from.
    – user16226
    Jul 6, 2017 at 11:38
  • Goodbye Emily - Michael Murphy.
    – Surtsey
    Jul 6, 2017 at 11:55
  • @MarkBaker I don't know how credible the guardian is... but it seems this article is where he got his figures... theguardian.com/books/2010/may/01/…
    – ggiaquin16
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:14
  • Also bumping this answer... while it does not answer the question on how to format lyrics in a book, it is advice worth listening to for people interested in doing this. Though, this probably would have been better as a comment since it is not an answer to the question.
    – ggiaquin16
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:23

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