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Assignment | Social Issue Essay (Pena): MLA + Annotated Bibliography

ENGL 1302 | Prof. E. Pena | Spring 2020

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.  
  1. Citation
  2. 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? 

Example MLA citation and annotation. The annotation reads: The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Rand University (comment on authority/expertise), use data from the national Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily cohabitation by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles (summary of article content). This research expands and reinforces the question central to this paper of evolving attitudes to family and gender roles (relevance to your paper). Smith and Taylor’s article regarding the values of the nuclear family of the 1950s is a good contrast to the nonfamily living studied in this article. (supports research)


Scholarly Articles from an Online Database

Massaro, John. "Press Box Propaganda? The Cold War and Sports Illustrated, 1956." Journal of American Culture, vol. 26, no. 3, 2003, pp. 361-70. Academic Search Complete,,cpid&custid=s1088435&db=a9h&AN=10351835&site=ehost-live.

Paris, Václav. "On Surrealism and the Art of Crime: Considered as One of the Fine Starts." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 33, no. 4, 2010, pp. 190-97. JSTOR,

Scott, Cord. "Written In Red, White, and Blue: A Comparison of Comic Book Propaganda From World War II and September 11." Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 40, no. 2, 2007, pp. 325-343. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00381.x.

Print Book

One Author:

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Two Authors:

Brown, Nathan, and Sheryle A. Proper. The Everything Paying for College Book. Adams, 2005.

Three or More Authors:

Bassis, Michael S., et al. Sociology: An Introduction. 4th ed., McGraw, 1991.

Newspaper Articles

Online Newspaper (Website):

Stanley, Alessandra. “‘Mad Men’ Strains to Stay as Button-Down as Ever.” The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2009,


Print Newspaper:

Feder, Barnaby J. "For Job Seekers, a Toll-Free Gift of Expert Advice." The New York Times, late ed., 22 Mar. 1994, pp.A1+.

Website Articles

Note: websites are almost never scholarly, even if they can be reputable. If you've been asked to use scholarly sources for your assignment, a website is unlikely to count.

When you're adding the URL, delete the http:// portion at the beginning.

Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013, Accessed 14 June 2016.

Livingston, Michael. "The History Behind Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen and Cleopatra.", Macmillan, 11 July 2016,