How to create an MLA style annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a special assignment that lists sources in a way similar to the MLA Works Cited list, but providing an annotation for each source giving extra information.

You might be assigned an annotated bibliography as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment.

MLA provides guidelines for writing and formatting your annotated bibliography. An example of a typical annotation is shown below.

Example of an MLA source annotation

Kenny, Anthony. A New History of Western Philosophy: In Four Parts. Oxford UP, 2010.

Broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day. Divided into four periods—ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern—each section begins with a chronological overview of the key thinkers, followed by chapters dedicated to each significant subfield in the period: metaphysics, political philosophy, God, etc. Kenny generally provides thorough and fair assessments of the major philosophers’ work, but is pointedly dismissive of Derrida and other critical theorists, significantly weakening the book’s coverage of “postmodern” philosophy.

You can create and manage your annotated bibliography with Scribbr’s free MLA Citation Generator. Choose your source type, retrieve the details, and click “Add annotation.”

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Creating an MLA title page

In MLA style, a title page is usually not required for your paper. Instead, MLA recommends including a header on your first page listing your name, your instructor’s name, the course name and number, and the submission date, followed by the title of your paper.

However, you should include a separate title page instead in these cases:

  • Your instructor requires it
  • The paper is a group project (i.e. you need to list multiple authors)

The formats for a separate title page and a first-page header are shown below. You can also use our templates in Word or Google Docs.

Word template Google Docs template

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Formatting dates in MLA style

In MLA Works Cited entries, publication dates are presented in day-month-year order. If the name of the month has five or more letters, abbreviate it to the first three.

Sometimes you just list the year (e.g. when citing a book), but if the source provides a more specific publication date, you should usually include it (e.g. when citing a journal article or web page). Occasionally you might even list the time of publication in addition to the date (e.g. when citing a timestamped online comment).

  • 2017
  • spring 2017
  • Mar. 2017
  • 5 Mar. 2017
  • 5 Mar. 2017, 1:15 p.m.

Don’t use ordinal numbers (e.g. “5th”) or commas within a date in the Works Cited list. Don’t include a 0 before a single-digit date (e.g. “05”), even if your source does.

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How to cite a dictionary entry in MLA style

In MLA style, a Works Cited entry for a dictionary entry usually starts with the title of the entry—since dictionaries usually don’t list authors.

The example below shows how to cite an entry in an online dictionary. If the page displays the year when the specific entry was last updated, use that year after the dictionary name. Otherwise, include an access date after the URL instead, as in this example.

Format Word, Part of speech. (Definition number).” Dictionary Name, Year, URL.
Works Cited entry “Lock, N. (2).” Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lock. Accessed 28 July 2020.
In-text citation (“Lock,” def. 2.a)

You can easily cite a dictionary entry with the help of our free MLA Citation Generator.

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How to cite a short story in MLA

When you quote from a short story in MLA Style, make sure to properly introduce the quote and to follow it with an in-text citation giving the author’s last name and the page number of the quote.

Short story quote and citation

The narrator tells us that Bartleby “seemed to gorge himself on my documents” (Melville 11).

The citation corresponds to an entry in your Works Cited list, giving the story’s author and its title in quotation marks, followed by the publication details of the container (e.g. a book, magazine, or website). The story in this example comes from a collection with an editor.

Format Author last name, First name. “Story Title.” Book Title, edited by Editor first name Last name, Publisher, Year, pp. Page range.
Works Cited entry Melville, Herman. “Bartleby, the Scrivener.” Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales, edited by Robert Milder, Oxford UP, 1998, pp. 3–41.

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An introduction to Turabian style

Turabian is a version of Chicago style that’s specifically designed for students and researchers. If you’ve been told to follow Chicago style when writing your academic papers, thesis, or dissertation, it’s usually the Turabian guidelines that will be most useful to you.

The Chicago information provided in the Scribbr Knowledge Base is drawn primarily from the Turabian manual. Since the same guidelines are used in both cases, the terms “Turabian style” and “Chicago style” are often used interchangeably.

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How to cite an image in Chicago style

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, it’s recommended to just cite images in notes, omitting them from the bibliography. List an image in your bibliography only if you cite it frequently,  if it’s essential to your argument, or if your university requires you to.

Follow the format shown below to create a note and—if necessary—a bibliography entry for an image viewed online. Make sure to cite the page where the image is hosted, not, for example, the Google search results where you found it.

Bibliography Author last name, First name. Image TitleFormat description. Website Name. Month Day, Year. URL.

Cheng, Minder. Double-Crested Cormorant. Photograph. Flickr. March 21, 2021. https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.

Full note Author first name Last name, Image Title, Format description, Website Name, Month Day, Year, URL.

1. Minder Cheng, Double-Crested Cormorant, photograph, Flickr, March 21, 2021, https://flic.kr/p/2kQcKZ3.

Short note Author last nameShortened Image Title.

2. Cheng, Double-Crested Cormorant.

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How to cite a film in Chicago style

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, a bibliography entry for a film viewed online (e.g. on a streaming platform like Netflix) lists the director as the author, with the label “director” after their name. State the length of the film in hours and minutes, and include a URL at the end.

In a note, start with the film title, followed by the director’s name. You can point the reader to a specific scene or moment in the film using timestamps.

Bibliography Director last name, First name, director. Film Title. Production Company or Distributor, Year. Film length. URL.

Weir, Peter, director. The Truman Show. Paramount Pictures, 1998. 1 hr., 43 min. https://www.netflix.com/watch/11819086.

Full note Film Title, directed by Director first name Last name (Production Company or Distributor, Year), Timestamp(s), URL.

1. The Truman Show, directed by Peter Weir (Paramount Pictures, 1998), 1:31:15. https://www.netflix.com/watch/11819086.

Short note Shortened Film Title, Timestamp(s).

2. Truman Show, 1:11:35 to 1:13:59.

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How to cite a YouTube video in Chicago style

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, it’s recommended to cite YouTube videos (and other online videos, except for films) only in your notes and omit them from the bibliography.

List a video in your bibliography if it’s crucial to your argument, you cite it often, or your university requires you to.

Including the video length is optional. In a note, a specific timestamp or range may be included to show the relevant location in the video.

Chicago YouTube video citation
Bibliography Author last name, First name. “Video Title.” Additional information. Month Day, Year. Format, Video lengthURL.

Liu, Jessica. “How to Write a Strong Essay Conclusion.” Scribbr. February 8, 2021. Educational video, 3:50. https://youtu.be/2UElC_YZ0Eo.

Full note Author first name Last name, “Video Title,” Additional information, Month Day, Year, Format, Video length or Timestamp(s), URL.

1. Jessica Liu, “How to Write a Strong Essay Conclusion,” Scribbr, February 8, 2021, educational video, 0:28 to 0:55, https://youtu.be/2UElC_YZ0Eo.

Short note Author last name, “Shortened Video Title,” Timestamp(s).

2. Liu, “Essay Conclusion,” 0:56.

If you use author-date style instead, any videos cited must appear in the reference list.

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How to cite speeches and lectures in Chicago style

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, the format for citing a speech or lecture depends on whether you viewed it in person or accessed it in a recording or transcript.

  • To cite a recorded or transcribed speech, follow the format for the relevant source type (e.g. website, book).
  • To cite a speech you viewed in person, give information about where and when it took place.

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