Writing the Citation (MLA vs. APA Format)

This Example uses the MLA format for the Journal Citation:

Goldscheider, Frances Kobrin, Linda J. Waite, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults."American Sociological Review 51 (1986): 541-445. Print.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Sureys of Young Women...

The following example uses the APA format for the Journal Citation:

Goldscheider, F.K., Waite, L.J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults."American Sociological Review, 51, 541-445.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Sureys of Young Women...

When Writing your annotated bibliography, it is important to get specific guidelines from your instructor.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents one has used for researching a topic. 
  • Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. 
  • The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. 

Writing the Annotation

Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following: 


The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is. Answer questions such as: What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone is asked what this article/book is about, what would you say?


After summarizing a source, it may e 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?


Once you have 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? HAas it changed how you think abou your topic? HOw might it be useful to your main thesis?


Most Common Styles of Annotated Bibliographies (MLA Format)

The following excerpts explain and give examples of Each Style: 

Indicative Style

  • This form of annotation defines the scope of the source, lists the significant topics included, and tells what the source is about.
  • This type is different from the informative entry in that the informative entry gives actual information about its source.
  • In the indicatie entry, there is no attempt to give actual data such as hypotheses, proofs, etc. Generally, only topics or chapter titles are included.

Example of Annotated bibliography in the Indicative Style:

Hudson, Kurt. World Industrial Archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

An introductory section discusses the aims and techniques of industrial archaeology. Topical chapters follow on extractive industries, food and drink, construction, metal processing, transport, textiles, clothing, and footwear, power, and chemicals.

Informative Style

  • Simply put, this form of annotation is a summary of the source.
  • Begin by writing the thesis and then develop it with the argument or hypothesis, list the proofs, and state the conclusion.

Example of Annotated bibliography in the Informative Style:

Voeltz, Leah M. “Children's Attitudes toward Handicapped Peers.” American Journal of Mental Deficiency. 84 (1980): 455-464. Print.

As services for severely handicapped children become increasingly available within neighborhood public schools, children's attitudes toward handicapped peers in integrated settings warrant attention. Factor analysis of attitude survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors underlying attitudes toward handicapped peers: social-contact willingness, deviance consequation, and two actual contact dimensions. Upper elementary-age children, girls, and children in schools with most contact with severely handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes. Results of this study suggest the modifiability of children's attitudes and the need to develop interventions to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences in integrated school settings.

Evaluative Style

  • In this form of annotation, you need to assess the source's strengths and weaknesses.

Example of Annotated bibliography in the Evaluative Style:

Kreie, Jacob, and Thomas P. Cronan. “Making Ethical Decisions.” Communications of the ACM. 43.12 (2000): 66-71. Print.

The authors, professors of computer systems, present findings of a study of 300 college students to support their theory that businesses that promote a strong ethical code of conduct can influence employee behavior in certain situations. The paper builds on an earlier study conducted by the authors. While the results of the study appear valid, the survey is limited in its scope to a small population. A comparison of a similar survey conducted in a work place would be a valuable addition to this study. While the authors’ conclusion that people rely on their personal values when making ethical decisions is perhaps stating the obvious, this article provides a good starting point for additional research on the topic.


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