Writing an MLA Annotated Bibliography - by Ms. Watkins and Mr. McClain

Writing an MLA Annotated Bibliography

What exactly is an annotated bibliography?  An annotated bibliography is a works cited page that includes an annotation: a short paragraph that informs the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Why do I have to write one of these anyway?  Annotated bibliographies require you to think meaningfully about your sources.  As you read through them, you will consider what content the source covers, how accurate and current the information is, and how the work will specifically help you with your project.  This is also a very efficient way for your teacher to review your sources to help you if you are struggling with your project.

I see the purpose of an annotated bibliography, but how do I write one?  Annotated bibliographies typically follow the general guidelines listed below.  In some cases, your teacher may ask you to add additional information or let you know that some information is not required.  Be sure to check with your teacher to make sure you are meeting all of the requirements for your specific annotated bibliography!

General Guidelines
v  Citations should follow standard MLA format.  You may use the 7th Edition of the MLA Handbook or follow the guidelines as they are explained on the Purdue OWL’s webpage:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/
v  Annotations should be written in third person. Do not use statements that begin with “I thought….” “I feel…” etc.
v Length can vary depending on the project and source you are evaluating, but 200-300 words per entry is usually acceptable.
v An annotated bibliography typically includes some or all of the following objective criteria; however, remember to check with your teacher for any special instructions:

Ø  Content (topics addressed)
Ø  Overall purpose of the work
Ø  Intended audience for the work
Ø  Authority of the author or source
Ø  Reliability or bias of the source
Ø  Currency of the work
Ø  Useful features (illustrations, maps, references, timelines, glossary, index, multimedia components)
Ø  Usefulness for the project

That’s all great, but can I see an example of what one of these might look like?  Of course you can!  Flip over to the back of this page, and you can see a sample annotated bibliography entry.  Because you are submitting the annotated bibliography separately, you should also use a correct MLA heading at the top of the paper.  Please note that this sample is borrowed from the Purdue OWL.

Your Name
Ms. Watkins
English 9H
29 February 2016
Annotated Bibliography
Adams, Samuel, John Adams and Paul Revere. “The Importance of Beer and Taverns in the American Revolution.” American Journal of Social History. 97.3 (2008), 354-382. JSTOR. Web. 25 Oct. 2008.
This article discusses the importance of beer and taverns in bringing together discussion of the American Rebellion. It draws on the firsthand experience of three Revolutionaries and their experiences in the pub. The article includes discussion of social class.  Written for a scholarly audience, the article demonstrates that even though the Revolutionaries were fighting for Liberty, it was a relative term and a dangerous one. The authors all had firsthand experience in the Revolution and write from different perspectives. The editor has provided a literature review as well as an extensive bibliography. The summary and general discussion provided a useful overview of the conclusions drawn by the authors and could be used in the research paper to support a conclusion.

Washington, George and Nathaniel Greene. Military Strategies: On a Limited Budget. Boston: Colonial Press, 1799. Print.

Geared for both a broad audience and professional military historians this book provides an insight into the financial crises involved in the war. The authors show the importance and reliance on foreign currency and support in the prosecuting of the war. The authors share their firsthand experience of deprivation and include a list of books that they used in planning military strategy. By common consensus, the authors were the best American generals, and so their book is a valuable resource in understanding the relationship between economics and strategy. Chapter Two of the book is particularly useful since it contains Washington’s and Greene’s plans for the Battle of Manhattan.


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