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.
The MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition does not include guidelines for formatting an annotated bibliography. However, your professor may assign an annotated bibliography in MLA style. The annotated bibliography contains descriptive or evaluative comments about your sources. Each citation should adhere to MLA guidelines. Begin your comments immediately following the citation. The title might be 'Annotated Bibliography' or 'Annotated List of Works Cited'.
Your instructor may request an annotated bibliography in order to evaluate the types of sources you are selecting for your research. The annotations should show that you have carefully conducted your research and critically analyzed the information you will use to write your paper. The good news is that the 'Works Cited' list will be almost complete before you begin writing. Below is an example of an annotated bibliography in MLA style.