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ENGL 1302: Composition & Rhetoric II (Boston): MLA Citations & Annotations

Spring 2020 | ENGL 1302 | Professor Boston

Remember: MLA style, size 12 Times New Roman, alphabetical sources, and annotations are single spaced and should be half to three-quarters of the page long.

MLA: Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a works cited list, but each citation for your sources is followed by a paragraph of explanation and justification: why is this source one of your sources? What does it bring to your research?

You will summarize the relevant information you're getting from that source (but remember, this isn't your paper -- you are summarizing, not presenting all the information itself) as well as how this well help you in your research (by providing background information, by exploring a certain angle, by presenting a contrary idea...).

Each of your annotations should be ½ to ¾ page long! This means your annotated bibliography should be at least 6-7 pages total, minimum.

Creating an annotated bibliography is not simply an academic exercise. An annotated bibliography is a tool to help you summarize your source content and evaluate its place within your research. If a source satisfies your "usefulness" criteria, that source belongs on your annotated bibliography. This process begins the transition from reading sources to incorporating content (ideas, quotes, paraphrasing) into your work. It is time to "make sense" of the knowledge you have gained from your research. This knowledge is the foundation on which to build your own voice, explain your methodology, discuss your conclusions, make and report on your new knowledge. 

Of course, evaluation of sources goes beyond "usefulness" to the other elements of authority, credibility, currency, and purpose.


Consulted Saylor Academy's open access course on research concepts and the writing process:  Research Writing in The Academic Disciplines. Annotated bibliographies have additional purposes that depend on the intent of the writer/researcher and the specific discipline.  
  1. Citation
  2. Annotation is a statement about the source. Elements may include:
  • A sentence or two to summarize the main idea of the source
  • A sentence to evaluate why the author is an expert on the topic (authority).
  • A sentence on the intended audience of the source (purpose).
  • A few sentences (perhaps a paraphrase) that explain how this source will illuminate your topic and how you will use the content in your paper (usefulness or relevance).
  • Any other criteria of note for this topic or discipline? 
Your annotation will be a bit longer than this: this is just to give you a sense of layout.

Screenshot of annotation using single spacing

For Your Essays: In-Text Citations and the Works Cited Page

Every time you refer to information that is not your original conclusion and is not common knowledge, you must give credit to where that information comes from. You will typically note in parentheses the author's/authors' names and relevant page number. This allows you to give credit without wasting excessive page space or disrupting the flow of the paper.

The images below use MLA style, but APA functions the same way in this regard; it's just that APA in-text citations would also include a publication year.

Connecting the in-text citation with your works cited page: author's name in-text connects with the first author listed on the works cited

If an article doesn't have an author, your Works Cited citation will start with the article title, and your in-text citation will reflect that. It's all about making it easy for your reader to make a one-to-one connection by just skimming down the left edge of the Works Cited page.

Example of in-text vs Works Cited, when there's no author: the first few words of the article title form the connection instead of an author's name