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MLA: Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography includes citations with descriptive and evaluative information about each source listed.

Descriptions should be brief (100-150 words, unless otherwise specified by your instructor) and should communicate the accuracy, relevancy, and appropriateness of the source in regard to your paper or assignment.

An annotated bibliography may also be called an Annotated List of Works Cited.

To write an annotation, it is necessary to read MORE than just the source title and abstract.

An abstract from the author or publisher may be included; however, additional information about the source should be provided in your own words.


The following example is from the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun.
Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.


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