MLA Annotated Bibliography Format

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The MLA Style Center provides the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography:

  • Title your reference page as “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Include annotations after the full, listed reference.
  • Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.
  • If you do exceed one paragraph, indent each new paragraph but do not add extra space between them.
  • For more information on writing an annotation, visit the general annotated bibliography guide.

Here are general MLA bibliography format guidelines that also apply:

  • Organize sources alphabetically by author or title, by the publication date, or by subject. Ask your instructor how they would like this organized if they haven’t provided specific guidance.
  • The entire bibliography MLA page or pages should be double-spaced.
  • Have 1-inch margins around the page.

Book example

Website example


The MLA follows the rules set forth in James L. Harner’s On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography, 2nd edition, which they published in 2000. Harner submits that the typical organization for this type of work “…consists of three parts: prefatory matter, entries, and an index” (7). Following this, he adds, however, that “an electronic bibliography rarely includes an index” (7).

The “prefatory matter” functions similarly to an introduction, and “typically consists of an introduction, an explanation of editorial procedures, acknowledgements, and separate lists of abbreviations, major reference sources searched, and the subject author’s works” (7). He expands on this, “You must explain – and, if necessary, offer a rationale for – the taxonomy, the kinds of works included and excluded, and the chronological span (especially terminal date) of scholarship covered” (7).

Using the EasyBib annotation tool

If you create your citations using the EasyBib citation generator, then you can also access the annotation tool!

Works Cited

Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography. 2nd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2000.

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

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