Creating an annotated bibliography in MLA style
The MLA Handbook is on reserve at the IRC desk on the Ground Floor.
Some annotations are merely descriptive, summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. Your professor might also ask you to identify the authors' theoretical frameworks.
Many annotations evaluate the quality of scholarship in a book or article. You might want to consider the logic of authors' arguments, and the quality of their evidence. Your findings can be positive, negative, or mixed.
Your professor might also want you to explain why the source is relevant to your assignment.
Sample Page: MLA-formatted annotated bibliography
Battle, Ken. “Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits.” A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada. Ed. Katherine Covell and R.Brian Howe. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 2007. 21-44.
Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs. He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children. His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children. Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists. He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favour of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography. He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses. However, Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents. This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada.
Kerr, Don and Roderic Beaujot. “Child Poverty and Family Structure in Canada, 1981-1997.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 34.3 (2003): 321-335.
Sociology professors Kerr and Beaujot analyze the demographics of impoverished families. Drawing on data from Canada’s annual Survey of Consumer Finances, the authors consider whether each family had one or two parents, the age of single parents, and the number of children in each household. They analyze child poverty rates in light of both these demographic factors and larger economic issues. Kerr and Beaujot use this data to argue that
Rules! rules! rules!
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers states the following formatting rules:
- The text and the works cited list should be double-spaced.
- Number your pages at the top right of the page.
- Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, select the citation, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
- There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
- Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
- Capitalize each important word (noun or verb) in a book or article title
- Each paragraph should be indented.
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
What is a bibliography? Often called a “works cited list” or “reference list,” it’s a list, usually found at the end of your project, that displays all of the sources that you used in your research project. In this list, you may have websites, books, newspapers, magazines, or other types of sources that were used.
Each listed source, also called a “citation,” shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other items. Citations are provided so that others can find the sources themselves.
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents where each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 100 to 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation.
Why Have One?
Sometimes instructors want you to include an “annotated bibliography.” An annotated bibliography includes three items for each source:
- the citation
- a short summary of the source
- your personal thoughts and insights from the source
The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, location, and quality of the sources cited. Please check with your teacher or professor first to see if an annotated bibliography/works cited page is needed for your paper.
- Create the citation in MLA, APA, or another style that your teacher instructs you to cite in. Your teacher will tell you which style you should use.
- Write a few sentences summarizing the source. What was it about? What was the main point of it?
Your Personal Thoughts and Insights
- Was the source helpful for your particular assignment?
- How did it help answer your research question(s)?
- How was this source different than the other sources used?
- Did the source change your thinking on the research topic?
- How did the source affect you?
- Citations are listed in alphabetical order
- Format your paper according to the MLA or APA guidelines (include the link to the MLA and APA guideline pages)
Example (in MLA):
Example (in APA):
Did you know that you can create annotated bibliographies using EasyBib citation tools? Go to any citation form and simply click the “Add Annotation” button at the bottom. A space will open up that allows you to add your own annotation for the citation.