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Annotated Bibliography

Learn about annotated bibliographies and how to write them.

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MLA Example

In this example:

  • Full citation in MLA format 

  • Paragraph 1 = descriptive annotation that summarizes the source, including information about research and results. 

  • Paragraphs 2 + 3 = critical/evaluative annotation including limitations of the source, bias of the author and the publisher, and other commentary on the usefulness of the source. 

Anderson, Lane. “Worried Sick: The High Price of Poverty.” Deseret News National Edition. Deseret Digital Media, 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. 


Anderson’s article in the Deseret News National Edition is an abbreviated presentation of several research studies, all supporting the thesis that poverty (here defined as making $2,000 or less per month for a family of four) has a negative impact on physical and emotional health. Conversely, those making $75,000 or more, according to more than one study, are more likely to report good health and mental stability. One researcher explains that sadness, depression, chronic pain, and mental distress are all more likely to visit the poor than the well-off. Anderson also includes a study from SUNY Albany, in which researchers found that losing a job can dramatically increase an individual’s risk of disease. The poor also lack the ability to find purpose in their lives overall because they are distracted by daily suffering. The last study Anderson includes shows that women from minorities and low-income brackets have higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), which they may be passing on to their offspring. 


Anderson’s article visits a number of studies and other writings in rapid succession, and this level of abbreviation may alter the quality of the piece overall. For example, he touches in his first four sentences on a well-known Princeton study that put $75,000 on the map as the income level at which contentment and happiness are most easily achieved. While this synthesis is not inaccurate, it is incomplete, as the original study looked at both daily well-being and an individual’s reflective feelings about his or her life, in addition to accounting for other lifestyle factors such as interpersonal relationships and addictive behavior. Anderson also cites many pieces of research that rely heavily on self-reporting to create statistics like, “[P]oor people are reporting [depression] at three times the rate of higher incomes.” Anderson’s information may be correct, but a reader will not get all of the contextual details from this article. 


Anderson published “Worried sick” in the Deseret News National Edition, a paper that brands itself as “rigorous journalism for family-and-faith-oriented audiences” and makes strong statements on their “About Us” page to the effect of “we help warn families about media that erode the fundamental character traits of compassion, courage and virtue” and “spending beyond our means is a moral issue.” The Deseret has an open bias in favor of religion, which changes the ethos of the reports they publish. A religious angle may convince one population with no need for additional argument, or it might alienate another portion of the population just as quickly. The paper devotes an entire section of their website to poverty, and while the articles may read objectively, they serve the stated purpose of “[empowering] people to meet their own needs, help others and improve lives.” The ethos, then, changes the logic.