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MLA Style Guide, 9th Edition: MLA Annotated Bibliography

This LibGuide reflects the changes to MLA style as directed by the MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition

What is an annotation?

an•no•ta•tion: n. 1. The act or process of furnishing critical commentary or explanatory notes. 2. A critical or explanatory note; a commentary.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

A list of citations for books, articles, websites, and other materials where each citation is accompanied by a brief descriptive and evaluative statement, called an annotation.

Annotations are different from the abstracts you will find accompanying journal article citations in online databases. Abstracts are descriptive. Your annotation must extend beyond the descriptive element to include an evaluation of the book or article.

Why Annotations?

An annotated bibliography is a tool for exploring a topic of interest. The process of reading and reflecting on the materials you find in the gathering part of the research process can help you understand the topic, identify multiple perspectives, explore different methods used to investigate the topic, and give you ideas for developing the thesis for your paper.

How are Annotations Created?

  1. Locate and record the citations for articles, books, and other materials you will use for your paper. You need to gather enough sources to represent a range of perspectives on your topic.
  2. Create the citation using the MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition. Tools that can help you with this include handouts received in class and in the library.
  3. Write the annotation directly below the citation, indented one inch from the start of the entry.
  4. Consider the questions below. Keep it short but be very complete.

Questions to consider when evaluating the item and writing your annotation include:

  • What education, experience and/or background does the author have which contributes to their being an authority on the topic?
  • Who is the intended audience for the book or article and how does that influence the presentation of the information?
  • How does this work contribute to your argument or support claims about your topic?
  • What are the main conclusions of the author(s) and what evidence do they use to support them?

The MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition guidelines for an annotation are to indent the annotation one inch from the start of the entry to distinguish it from the half-inch hanging indent of the entry. The annotation is double spaced with no gap between the citation and the annotation.

Annotation should be no more than one paragraph; however, if you need several paragraphs, indent each one but do not add an extra space between paragraphs. Follow your instructor's guidelines on the length and format for your specific assignment. Below is an example of an annotated bibliography in MLA 9th edition style.

Example of Annotated Bibliography showing indentation for citation and annotation.


Annotated Bibliographies. University Libraries, U of Nevada Las Vegas,, 2018.