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Annotated Bibliography: Formatting

A guide to creating an annotated bibliography in any class.

Formatting

Always follow your instructor’s guidelines. These are general rules.

  1. Title the list: Annotated Bibliography.
  2. Begin with a correctly formatted citation, as it would appear on the Works Cited page or Reference list. Put them in alphabetical order.
  3. In paragraph form, write the annotation. They are usually brief, about 2 to 6 sentences, but this will depend on the assignment.
  4. Double space the document.
  5. Begin the annotation on the line after the citation. Indent each paragraph.

MLA Formatting Rules

MLA Handbook 5.132

Style a source in an annotated bibliography just as you would one in a list of works cited, and then append an annotation to the end of the entry, in-dented an inch from the start of the entry (to distinguish it from the half-inch hanging indent of entries composed of more than one line).

Annotations describe or evaluate sources or do both. They should not rehash minor details, cite evidence, quote the author, or recount steps in an argument. Annotations are generally written as succinct phrases.

Moore, Nicole. The Censor’s Library: Uncovering the Lost History of Australia’s Banned Books. U of Queensland P, 2012.

Comprehensive history of Australian print censorship, with discussion of this history’s implications for questions of transnationalism and the construction of the reader.

But annotations can also be given as complete sentences.

Moore, Nicole. The Censor’s Library: Uncovering the Lost History of Australia’s Banned Books. U of Queensland P, 2012.

The book provides a comprehensive history of Australian print censorship and discusses its implications for questions of transnationalism and the construction of the reader.

In an annotated bibliography, the annotations should generally be no more than one paragraph. If, however, you need several paragraphs, indent each one but do not add an extra space between paragraphs. Follow your instructor’s guidelines on the use of phrases or full sentences and the length of annotations.

The list should be titled Annotated Bibliography or Annotated List of Works Cited. Writers may organize the bibliography alphabetically by author or title (as for a normal list of works cited), by date of publication, or by subject.

APA Formatting Rules

APA Publication Manual Section 9.51 [Excerpted]

Most APA Style guidelines are applicable to annotated bibliographies. In general, it is not necessary to cite the work being annotated in the annotation because the origin of the information is clear through context. However, do include in-text citations if you refer to multiple works within an annotation to clarify the source.

Instructors generally set all other requirements for annotated bibliographies. In the absence of other guidance, format an annotated bibliography as follows:

  • Format and order reference in alphabetical order, the same as you would order entries in a reference list.
  • Each annotation should be a new paragraph below its reference entry. Indent the entire annotation 0.5 in. from the left margin, the same as you would a block quotation. Do not indent the first line of the annotation.
  • If the annotation spans multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs an additional 0.5 in., the same as you would a block quotation with multiple paragraphs.

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