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MLA Citation Guide: Annotated Bibliography

This guide shows you how to cite references in current (9th edition) MLA style

Annotated Bibliography Template

This sample annotated bibliography shows you the structure you should use to write an MLA annotated bibliography and gives examples of evaluative and summary annotations.

It can be used as a template to set up your assignment.

For more information, see the Handbook's section 5.132, p. 226.

Annotations Help

Annotations

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a Works Cited page but includes an annotation after each source cited. An annotation is a short summary and/or critical evaluation of a source. Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself.

Types of Annotations

 A summary annotation describes the source by answering the following questions: who wrote the document, what the document discusses, when and where was the document written, why was the document produced, and how was it provided to the public. The focus is on description. 

 An evaluative annotation includes a summary as listed above but also critically assesses the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. Evaluative annotations can help you learn about your topic, develop a thesis statement, decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment, and determine if there is enough valid information available to complete your project. The focus is on description and evaluation.

Writing an Evaluative Annotation

  1. Cite the source using MLA style.
  2. Describe the main ideas, arguments, themes, theses, or methodology, and identify the intended audience.
  3. Explain the author’s expertise, point of view, and any bias he/she may have.
  4. Compare to other sources on the same topic that you have also cited to show similarities and differences.
  5. Explain why each source is useful for your research topic and how it relates to your topic.
  6. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each source.
  7. Identify the observations or conclusions of the author. 

Remember: Annotations are original descriptions that you create after reading the document. When researching, you may find journal articles that provide a short summary at the beginning of the text. This article abstract is similar to a summary annotation. You may consult the abstract when creating your evaluative annotation, but never simply copy it as that would be considered plagiarism. 

For more information, see the Handbook's section 5.132, p. 226.

Basic Tips on Writing and Formatting

  • Each annotation should be one paragraph, between three to six sentences long (about 150- 200 words).
  • Start with the same format as a regular Works Cited list.
  • All lines should be double-spaced. Do not add an extra line between the citations.
  • If your list of citations is especially long, you can organize it by topic.
  • Try to be objective, and give explanations if you state any opinions.
  • Use the third person (e.g., he, she, the author) instead of the first person (e.g., I, my, me)