As a music publisher I get many songs sent to me along with lyric sheets and sometimes only as lyrics. I always require songwriters to include a lyric sheet with each song submitted. Incomplete submissions rarely get considered. The problem is that it’s sometimes difficult to understand the lyric simply by listening to it. Having the lyric sheet removes all doubt possibly bettering your chance of a successful submission.
So how should lyric sheets be formatted? This would seem like a good question, right? Well, in all the years I’ve been in the business I can’t think of a single time anyone ever asked. I’m not 100% positive there is an exact way to format lyrics but I do know a very simple, easy to follow, concise and professional format that’s widely accepted and appreciated by the industry. Follow along:
Always use Book Antiqua as your font. It’s a very pleasant font that’s ease to read.
- The title line should be 20 points.
- The songwriter’s name line should be 14 points.
- The body of lyrics should be 12 point when there’s enough room to get the entire lyric on one sheet. Use a smaller font size of no less than 9 point if you must to get the entire song on one sheet. If you can’t get the whole song on one sheet, it’s probably too long to start with.
- The contact line at the very bottom of the page should be no less than 8 point.
Tabs Are Our Friend:
- Title line and songwriter line is left justified.
- Verses are full left aligned along with the title line and songwriter name line.
- Choruses are in one tab only.
- Bridges are in two tabs only.
- Outros are aligned one tab in with the bridge.
What To Do:
- Only the Title Line should be bold.
- Use small caps for the title line only.
- The entire page should be justified left.
- Only include your First and last name on the songwriter line which is just below the title. If there are co-writers involved, simply use a ” / ” between each name.
What Not To Do:
- Do not have anything bold except the title line.
- Do not use italics for anything.
- Do not use caps on the entire lyric.
- Do not use center justify for anything.
- Do not use section titles like “verse, verse 1, chorus, bridge” . This is what the tabs are for.
- Do not use quotation marks for anything.
- Do not use any color font other than black.
Only include your name as you want to be known and with no initials being used, your phone number, and your email address. Don’t put your snail mail address or website address because I can all but guarantee you no one is going to write you a letter or take the time to go to your site. We (the industry) will either call or email our response to you.
Heres a quick example:
I have a more comprehensive guide available if you’d like a copy. Just let me know and I’ll be happy to email you one. And remember, we’re always looking for new original songs to place in the industry.
The Dean Of Music Publishing Group
ASCAP, BMI & SESAC Affiliated