MLA Annotated Bibliography Format
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 and separate with a single 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.
Here is the source’s citation and annotation in MLA bibliography format. It contains a summary for the book The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by UK author and blogger Mark Forsyth:
Forsyth, Mark. The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase. Penguin Books, 2014.
The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.
Here is another annotated bibliography example in MLA for an article on the MLA website.
Citation with annotation:
“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center, The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/.
This article offers brief and clear directions for MLA formatting of a bibliography with annotations. Citing James Harner’s On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography, it provides guidelines for writing annotations that can be applied to either paraphrase or commentary form. It also demonstrates how writing annotations can benefit students who are tasked with researching a subject and offers instruction on the organization of entries and acceptable page titles. While the advice is tailored to respond to a question posed by an instructor, students and researchers may also benefit from the guidance that the MLA provided.
Citation without annotation:
The following is an example MLA format works cited citation for an article on the MLA website. This MLA bibliography example shows what the entry will look like without an annotation:
“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/
Reminder: Whether or not you have annotations, all references in a bibliography MLA are organized in alphabetical order, top to bottom of the page, by the first letter in the reference. That is usually the author, but sometimes it’s the source’s title.
Note that this MLA bibliography does not contain an introductory paragraph. If you are including a prefatory section, it should reside between the page title and the initial entry.
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!
When you create a new or edit an existing citation, you’ll review a citation form that lists every piece of information for the citation.At the bottom of this form is a section called “More options.” In this section, simply click the “Add annotation” text to open the tool. Copy and paste your annotation here, complete your citation, and both the citation and annotation will be automatically formatted together!
Always consult your instructor
Your instructor or school may have additional or different requirements for how you format and organize this page. If your teacher or professor requires an introduction, they may identify specific points to include or exclude which deviate from Harner’s definition, so it’s essential that you verify your understanding of the assignment before beginning.
If you are required to share your references in a manner other than in MLA bibliography format, there is also a guide on APA annotated bibliographies.
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