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How To Format Annotated Bibliography In Mla

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography or annotated bib is a bibliography (a list of books or other works) that includes descriptive and evaluative comments about the sources cited in your paper. These comments are also known as annotations.

How do I format my annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation.


The citation should be formatted in the bibliographic style that your professor has requested for the assignment. Some common citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago. For more information, see the Style Guides page.


Generally, an annotation is approximately 100-300 words in length (one paragraph). However, your professor may have different expectations so it is recommended that you clarify the assignment guidelines.

An annotation may include the following information:

  • A brief summary of the source
  • The source’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Its conclusions
  • Why the source is relevant in your field of study
  • Its relationships to other studies in the field
  • An evaluation of the research methodology (if applicable)
  • Information about the author’s background
  • Your personal conclusions about the source

MLA style format (8th ed.)

Hanging Indents are required for citations in the bibliography, as shown below. That is, the first line of the citation starts at the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented 4 spaces.  The bibliography is double-spaced, both within the citation and between them.

Lozier, J. D., et al. "Predicting the Distribution of Sasquatch in Western North America: Anything Goes with

Ecological Niche Modelling." Journal of Biogeography, vol. 36, no.9, 2009, pp. 1623-1627. JSTOR,


APA style format

Hanging Indents are required for citations in the bibliography, as shown below. That is, the first line of the citation starts at the left margin, and subsequent lines of the citation are indented 4 spaces. The annotation is indented 2 additional spaces, as a block.

D’Elia, G., Jorgensen, C., Woelfel, J., & Rodger, E. J. (2002). The impact of the Internet on public library use: An analysis of the current

consumer market for library and Internet services. Journal of the American Society forInformation Science and Technology

53(10), 808-820. doi:10.1002/asi.10102

In this study, the researchers examined if the Internet had affected public library usage in the United States. This study is

distinct because its researchers surveyed library nonusers as well as users. The major finding was that 75.2% of people

who used the Internet also used the public library. However, the researchers surveyed only 3000 individuals in a population

of millions; therefore, these results may not be statistically significant. However, this study is relevant because it provides

future researchers with a methodology for determining the impact of the Internet on public library usage.

Additional resources

Annotated bibliographies
From Purdue OWL

Writing an annotated bibliography
From Concordia University

How to prepare an annotated bibliography
From Cornell University

Writing an annotated bibliography
From University of Toronto

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.

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