Barring any overriding style guides used for a specific organization or school, the general rule is to use quotations for song titles and italicize CD or album titles. Do not use underlining (in place of italics) unless you're still using a typewriter or writing out titles by hand.
For matters of style when punctuating and formatting titles of any kind, turn first to the style guide prescribed by your employer, client, or teacher. In the absence of a prescribed style, use the following guidelines.
Put quotation marks around song titles. For best appearance in professionally typeset material, be sure to use proper typographical quote marks and apostrophes (curly quotes).
In desktop publishing software you can create character styles to simplify formatting and changing song titles and other types of titles used throughout a document.
Examples of How to Reference Song Titles and Albums:
Trace Adkins' first #1 single “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” is from his 1997 CD Dreamin’ Out Loud.
The title cut from Toby Keith’s How Do You Like Me Now? was the most played country song of 2000. Other favorites from the same album include “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like That” and “Country Comes to Town.”
Song/Album the Same: In the second example, although “How Do You Like Me Now?” was the song title, it was also the album title and in that context is treated as the album title, using italics. It would be just as correct (although wordy) to write: My favorite song on the How Do You Like Me Now? album is “How Do You Like Me Now?”
Punctuation in Titles: When a song title ends in a question mark, exclamation point, or other punctuation, that mark goes inside the quotation marks because it is a part of the song title. The beginning portion of the Adkin's song title in parentheses is contained in the quotation marks just like any other part of the song title. If the punctuation is not part of the song title, put it outside of the quotation marks. For example: Do you like the song “Country Comes to Town”?
Learn More About Citing Titles and Using Style Guides
- Punctuation Titles | Underlines or Quotation Marks? | About.com Homework/Study Tips
- Choosing a Style Manual and Documentation Guide | Popular Style Guides for Students, Researchers, and Professionals | About.com Grammar & Composition
- Using a House Style in Desktop Publishing | Often covers more than just grammar and punctuation
- The Basics of Associated Press Style | About.com Journalism
Learn More on Proper Typographical Marks in Citations
- How to Type Quotes, Apostrophes, and Primes | Avoid the look of an amateur with a few special keystrokes
- How to Use Italics Effectively | Put the emphasis on text the right way