Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
- Library Catalog
- Research Databases
- LSC-University Park Library
- FAQ & Knowledgebase
A note about your articles. That's what an annotated bibliography is - a note about your information source that begins with the article citation.
Following the citation is a brief summary of the article. The summary should remind you of the particular content you believe to be useful as you write your paper. The format of the annotated bibliography follows MLA guidelines.
Explore The MLA Annotated Bibliography box below for further information.
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...).
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.
- Annotation is a brief and concise statement about the source. Think in terms of a "note" consisting of 5-6 sentences.
- One 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?