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MLA Citation Style 9th Edition

This guide will help you cite sources in MLA Citation Style 9th Edition.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is the same as a “regular” bibliography (also known as a Works Cited or References list), with the addition of annotations (short paragraphs about each source). Two types of annotated bibliographies are the most common:

  • Descriptive: annotations describe the content of a source
  • Evaluative: annotations describe AND critically evaluate the source

What is an annotation? 

A short paragraph (50-200 words) that describes and/or evaluates each citation (source of information listed in your bibliography). An evaluative annotation judges, in your opinion, the relevance, quality, and accuracy of each citation, in addition to describing the work.

Annotations usually consist of the answers to the following questions:

  Questions to Answer:   Examples:
  What is the material?   Book, chapter, scholarly article, web page
  What is the work about?   Topics and subjects covered
  What is the purpose of the work?   Introduction, update, research report
  Who is the intended audience?   Scholars, general public
  Who is/are the author(s)? What are their qualifications?   Academic qualifications, research background
  Authority of the source?   Peer-reviewed journal, reputable publisher
  Are there any clear biases?   Personal/corporate agenda, unbalanced discussion
  What are the deficiencies or limitations of the work?   Dubious research methods; information that is clearly missing
  What are the strengths of the work?   Thorough discussion, extensive research, major work in field

Do I have to read the entire book/article?

Not necessarily! Look for information in:

  • introductions/abstracts
  • conclusions/results/discussion sections
  • book reviews
  • table of contents

Unless otherwise advised, make sure your Annotated Bibliography is in alphabetical order. Start each annotation with a correct citation in the required citation style (e.g., APAMLAChicago).

Additional resources:

Sample Annotated Bibliography in MLA Style (5.132)

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific sections in the MLA Handbook (9th ed.)

The specific requirements for annotated bibliographies are usually set by your instructor. However, the MLA Handbook (9th ed.) has some suggested guidelines for formatting:

  1. Entries in an annotated bibliography should be formatted just like an entry in the Works Cited list.
  2. Each annotation should be a new paragraph below the Works Cited entry.
  3. Each annotation should be indented an inch from the start of the entry.
  4. If the annotation is more than one paragraph, each paragraph should be indented.
  5. The list should be titled "Annotated Bibliography" or "Annotated List of Works Cited."
  6. Entries in an annotated bibliography can be organized alphabetically, by date of publication, or by subject.