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MLA Annotated Bibliography Format – Preparing an Annotated Bibliography following MLA Style

Usually, when you prepare your reference list, you simply list each work you have cited, along with relevant details such as publisher names, place and date of publication, and volume or issue number. However, in certain fields, it’s common practice to add a little more descriptive detail for each work, in the form of an annotated bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography: Explanation and Purpose

An annotated bibliography is a compilation of citations from books, articles, and documents. Each citation is accompanied by a brief (typically around 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, which is known as the annotation. The annotation is meant to inform the reader about the relevance, accuracy, or quality of the cited sources.

An annotation usually summarizes the central theme or argument of the source. It can also comment on the background or authority of the writer, compare the work with another that has been cited, or further illustrate how this work supports the main argument of your own article or essay.

Preparing an Annotated Bibliography in MLA Format

If the thought of preparing an annotated bibliography sounds intimidating, don’t worry! Most of the steps are similar to preparing your Works Cited page. Create your list of Works Cited, as per MLA style (9th edition) as usual. Then, below each entry, write a brief annotation for the source, indented 1 inch from the start of the entry.

The example below may help you grasp this more easily:

Inga-Ting-Minga, Patricia, and Mary-Sherry-Jerry Paulson. The Joys and Sorrows of Life in Northern Canada in Early Springtime and Late Fall. Bockawockah State UP, 1999.

Inga-Ting-Minga and Paulson’s work provides an in-depth exploration of the unique experiences of life in Northern Canada during the transitional periods of early spring and late fall. Through a combination of personal narratives, historical analysis, and cultural insights, the authors depict the contrasting emotions and challenges faced by the inhabitants during these seasons. The book delves into the adaptation strategies of the local communities, highlighting both the joyous celebrations of the changing seasons and the sorrows brought about by the harsh climatic conditions. This comprehensive examination is valuable for understanding the resilience and cultural richness of Northern Canadian societies. The detailed accounts and vivid descriptions make it a significant resource for those studying environmental adaptation and cultural history in extreme climates.

Note that every citation entry should adhere to MLA guidelines. Also, the heading of the list can be either “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited” (centered).

Typically, journals don’t ask for an annotated bibliography because it could unnecessarily lengthen your paper. However, you may be asked to prepare an annotated bibliography for essays or theses at your institute.

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