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MLA Manual - Guide for MLA Citation: Annotated bibliographies

Use this guide for help with MLA Citation.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is something your professor might ask for as evidence of your research process. An annotated bibliography gives not only citation information for your sources, but also a paragraph or series of paragraphs giving your summary and reflection on the source.

In your paragraph(s), unless your instructor tell you differently, you should answer the following questions in complete sentences:

  • What is the source about?
  • How do you know the source is reliable?
  • How will you be using the source? (Why is it useful to you?)

What does an annotated bibliography look like?

Here is an example of an annotated bibliography entry:

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

          Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.
          In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

          Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

The requirements for an annotated bibliography can differ depending on your instructor. For instance, even if they want the same questions answered, not all instructors will want an entry as long as the one listed above. Be sure to ask your professor for important details, such as how long they want it to be, what do they want to know about each source, etc.

How do I format an annotated bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies follow mostly the same rules as the formatting rules for a works cited page. See how a Works Cited page is formatted. Text should be double-spaced, in a 10 - 12 pt legible font, and use a hanging indent (-0.5").