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        MLA Annotated Bibliography | Guidelines and Examples

        • calenderSep 20, 2023
        • calender 3 min read

        A crucial aspect of academic writing is listing all the texts you have referenced throughout your paper. In an MLA-style document, this is typically done in the Works Cited section and in-text citations. However, some papers call for a more detailed list of sources, called the MLA annotated bibliography.

        So, what is an MLA-style annotated bibliography and when should you include one? We’ll answer both these questions and get you familiar with how to write an annotated bibliography in the MLA style.

        What is an annotated bibliography in MLA 9? 

        An MLA annotated bibliography is a list of sources with a summary for each entry, in addition to the standard text and publication details. Unlike a Works Cited section, the purpose of an annotated bibliography is to provide context for the inclusion of a particular source. The accompanying note establishes a source’s relevance, credibility, or contribution to the research topic that the paper explores. 

        An MLA format annotated bibliography may include additional sources that aren’t referenced in any in-text citations in your MLA-style paper

        When can you use an annotated bibliography? 

        While annotated bibliographies are not mandatory according to the official MLA 9 guidelines, there are many contexts that call for one. 

        1. Literature reviews: Writing annotated bibliographies is an excellent way to explore a new research topic. In addition to helping you keep a meticulous record of all your reference material, it compels you to read each source more critically and map out how its core talking points relate to your thesis statement. 
        2. Aid for future research: An annotated bibliography also helps evaluators and other researchers understand the scope of the study better. Your notes will guide readers and give them a comprehensive overview of the research done in your field and how it can be taken forward.

        Annotated bibliographies can be included in research papers, essays, and longer works like dissertations and theses. If you’re unsure about whether you should include an annotated bibliography in your MLA paper, consult your instructors or the prescribed guidelines. 

        MLA annotated bibliography format guidelines

        Follow the guidelines below to style an MLA annotated bibliography:

        • Start the annotated bibliography on a new page, after the Works Cited section. 
        • Title the section “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited”.
        • Follow the reference style format for MLA citations provided in the 9th edition handbook.
        • Start the annotation directly below in the next line, indented 1 inch from the first line of the entry. 
        • Describe the source in succinct phrases or short sentences. 
        • If required, add a brief evaluation of the source, explaining its relevance to your research.
        • Avoid including minor details, evidence, quotes from the source, and detailed breakdowns of the source’s arguments.
        • Organize the annotated bibliography alphabetically by the name of the title or author.

        Here’s an example of an MLA annotated bibliography:

        A template showing the MLA 9th edition annotated bibliography.

        While these are general guidelines listed in the MLA 9th Edition Handbook; you may need to take note of minor variations asked of you in your university or publication’s guidelines. If you’re unsure of any aspect of styling and formatting an annotated bibliography, consult your instructor.

        MLA annotated bibliography examples

        Let’s take a look at some MLA annotated bibliography samples.

        1. Book 

        This is an annotated bibliography example in the MLA format for Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather

        Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969.

        This text explores the themes of immigration and the pursuit of the American Dream within the framework of organized crime. We see this through two generations of the Corleone family—Vito, who navigates a rise to power and cultural assimilation, and Michael, who has to balance the preservation of traditional Italian values with changes in modern America.

        2. Poetry 

        Here’s an annotated bibliography MLA example for Sylvia Plath’s 1965 poem “Lady Lazarus”. 

        Plath, Sylvia. “Lady Lazarus.” Ariel. Faber & Faber, 1965.

        This text offers a poignant depiction of depression and mental illness through Plath’s vivid imagery. “Lady Lazarus” grapples with themes of death, rebirth, and identity. A seminal text of the genre of confessional poetry, Plath uses free verse to explore her own confrontation with mortality, her relationship with death, and her identity as a woman.

        3. Research paper 

        Kimbrough, Robert. “Androgyny Seen Through Shakespeare’s Disguise.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 33, no. 1, 1982, pp. 17–33.

        Kimbrough explores Shakespeare’s use of disguise as a way to challenge gender norms. This play focuses on his female characters, particularly Viola (Twelfth Night) and Rosalind (As You Like It), and how they use androgyny to challenge the dominant gender roles of their era. This paper also situates androgyny as a pre-modern phenomenon. 

        Now that you’ve understood how to write an MLA annotated bibliography, it’s time to ace your paper. As providers of expert paper editing services, we want you to achieve your ultimate potential. Here are some resources that’ll help you do just that:

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        Chetna Linkedin

        Chetna is a child of the internet. A writer and aspiring educator, she loves exploring digital media to create resources that are informative and engaging. Away from the writing desk, she enjoys cinema, coffee, and old books.

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