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Annotated Bibliography Cover Page Mla Format

Annotated Bibliographies


This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Contributors: Geoff Stacks, Erin Karper, Dana Bisignani, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-09 12:16:22


A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.

    For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.

  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?

    For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources.

  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.

Why should I write an annotated bibliography?

To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.

To help other researchers: Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.


The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific guidelines.

The bibliographic information: Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout. For APA, go here: APA handout.

The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need more space.

You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.

This is a hard question to answer via an email format, since there are several follow-up questions needed, such as "is this a stand-alone bibliography, or part of a paper" and "what citation style are you using?"

Let's start with the second follow-up question first. We use two major citations styles at CSS, the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). And yes, some professors require AMA or Chicago, but we will ignore that at the moment.

If your annotated bibliography is part of a paper, then no, it does not require a separate cover sheet. If you are submitting just an annotated bibliography, then it would seem that yes, you should include one, but there are no rules for how to do it. In this case, I would suggest you follow the rules for paper covers. For info on formatting both your cover sheet & bibliography, see this CSS Library Libguide page - http://libguides.css.edu/content.php?pid=61895&sid=455206

In regards to the annotated bibliography, it is addressed  on p. 130 of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition.

"Titles used for other kinds of sources lists include Annotated Bibliography, Works Consulted, or Selected Bibliography. An annotated bibliography, also called an Annotated List of Works Cited, contains descriptive or evaluative comments on the sources ...

Harbord, Janet. The Evolution of Film: Rethinking Film Studies. Cambridge:
     Polity, 2007. Print. A synthesis of classic film theory and an
     examination of the contemporary situation of film studies that draws
     on recent scholarship in philosophy, anthropology, and media studies."

Spacing is address on p. 131.

"Begin each entry flush with the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines one half inch from the left margin. This format is sometimes called the hanging indent, and you can set you word processor to create it automatically for a group of paragraphs. Hanging indention makes alphabetical lists easier to use. Double-space the entire list, both between and within entries. Continue the list on a many pages as necessary."


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, does not mention annotated bibliographies, so I can give you no "official" advice on how to create one in APA style. I would follow the general rules for covers & bibliographies [reference lists] that you can find on the CSS Library LibGuide - http://libguides.css.edu/content.php?pid=61826&sid=454618

I did find an article from 2008 that is an annotated bibliography that appears to be in APA style. You can view it here - https://akin.css.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=keh&AN=35052650&site=eds-live

APA has an "escape clause" that says it defers to "local custom," meaning your professor can decide how she/he thinks it should be done. You can always check with her/him as to how they may wish things done.

Good luck.



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