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Research Guide: Citations: MLA Annotated Bibliography Example

What is An Annotated Bibliography?


A Bibliography is a list of the sources you used to research your topic.

An Annotated Bibliography includes a citation and a short summary/analysis (called an “annotation”) for each source. 

Follow your instructor's specific guidelines for the length and content of your annotated bibliography.

A common structure for the annotation is:

Summary: Include answers to some of these questions:

  • what type of source is this? (book, article…etc.)
  • what is this source about? – a brief summary
  • what topic(s) does it cover?  how extensive is its coverage?
  • what are its main arguments or themes?

Analysis: Include answers to some of these questions:

  • why did you choose this source?
  • in what ways is it an authoritative and credible source for your purposes?
  • how is it helpful for your project or how does it shape your argument?
  • how does it fit in with the rest of your research?

Example MLA Annotated Bibliography

Taylor, Lou. "Dress." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, edited by Maryanne C. Horowitz, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005, pp. 596-605.

      "Dress," by Lou Taylor, provides an historic, theoretical, and cultural overview of the academic study of dress. Though an academic reference book article and not an in-depth study, "Dress" offers a clear and insightful explanation of how clothing provides a window into history: namely that the clothing one wears reflects one's individual and group identity. In other words, the study of dress offers insight into what's sacred in a society; generational differences; occupation, economic and vocational status in a society; ethnicity, community, nationality and racial identification; gender and sexuality; and individual values.                                                                       While Taylor's focus is outside of the US, his discussion is highly relevant to the study of dress in any context. I will use the analysis to support my analysis of 1970s counter-culture fashion.

MLA Guidelines for Annotated Bibliographies

MLA specific guidelines for annotated bibliographies:

  • Style the source as would in your works cited list
  • Indent the annotation an inch from the start of the entry
  • Annotations are generally written as succinct phrases but can also be given as complete sentences.
    • Examples:
      • Comprehensive history of American foreign policy, with discussion of current policy issues and potential future concerns.
      • The book provides a comprehensive history of American foreign policy as well as discusses current policy issues and potential future concerns.
  • Annotations should generally be no more than one paragraph
  • If annotations require more than one paragraph, ident each one but no not add an extra space between paragraphs
  • The list of annotated bibliographies should be title Annotated Bibliography or Annotated List of Works Cited
  • Annotated bibliographies are generally organized alphabetically by author or title (like a normal works cited list) but can also be organized by publication date or subject depending on your instructor's guidelines

Additional examples

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) 

For more examples and help with citations, consider the Online Writing Lab at Purdue. 

Quick Guide - MLA