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How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography

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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

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Write an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

It is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. 

An annotation is a short summary and/or critical evaluation of a source.

Annotated bibliographies answer the question: "What would be the most relevant, most useful, or most up-to-date sources for this topic?"

 Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself. 

Annotation versus abstracts 

An abstract is a paragraph at the beginning of the paper that discusses the main point of the original work. They typically do not include evaluation comments. 

Annotations can either be descriptive or evaluative. The annotated bibliography looks like a works cited page but includes an annotation after each source cited. 

Types of Annotations: 

Descriptive Annotations: Focuses on description. Describes the source by answering the following questions. 

Who wrote the document?

What does the document discuss?

When and where was the document written? 

Why was the document produced?

How was it provided to the public?

Evaluative Annotations: Focuses on description and evaluation. Includes a summary and critically assess the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. 

Evaluative annotations help you learn about your topic, develop a thesis statement, decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment, and determine if there is enough valid information available to complete your project.

What does the annotation include?

Depending on your assignment and style guide, annotations may include some or all of the following information. 

  • Should be no more than 150 words or 4 to 6 sentences long. 
  • What is the main focus or purpose of the work?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • ​How useful or relevant was the article to your topic?
  • Was there any unique features that useful to you?
  • What is the background and credibility of the author?
  • What are any conclusions or observations that your reached about the article?

Which citation style to use?

There are many styles manuals with specific instructions on how to format your annotated bibliography. This largely depends on what your instructor prefers or your subject discipline. Check out our citation guides for more information. 

Additional Information

Why doesn't APA have an official APA-approved format for annotated bibliographies?

Always consult your instructor about the format of an annotated bibliography for your class assignments. These guides provide you with examples of various styles for annotated bibliographies and they may not be in the format required by your instructor. 

Citation Examples and Annotations

Book Citation with Descriptive Annotation

Liroff, R. A., & G. G. Davis. (1981). Protecting open space: Land use control in the Adirondack Park. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

This book describes the implementation of regional planning and land use regulation in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. The authors provide program evaluations of the Adirondack Park Agency’s regulatory and local planning assistance programs.

Journal Article Citation with Evaluative Annotation

Gottlieb, P. D. (1995). The “golden egg” as a natural resource: Toward a normative theory of growth management. Society and Natural Resources, 8, (5): 49-56.

This article explains the dilemma faced by North American suburbs, which demand both preservation of local amenities (to protect quality of life) and physical development (to expand the tax base). Growth management has been proposed as a policy solution to this dilemma. An analogy is made between this approach and resource economics. The author concludes that the growth management debate raises legitimate issues of sustainability and efficiency.

Examples were taken from http://lib.calpoly.edu/support/how-to/write-an-annotated-bibliography/#samples

Book Citation

Lee, Seok-hoon, Yong-pil Kim, Nigel Hemmington, and Deok-kyun Yun. “Competitive Service Quality Improvement (CSQI): A Case Study in the Fast-Food Industry.” Food Service Technology 4 (2004): 75-84.

In this highly technical paper, three industrial engineering professors in Korea and one services management professor in the UK discuss the mathematical limitations of the popular SERVQUAL scales. Significantly, they also aim to measure service quality in the fast-food industry, a neglected area of study. Unfortunately, the paper’s sophisticated analytical methods make it inaccessible to all but the most expert of researchers.

Battle, Ken. “Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits.”  A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada . Ed. Katherine Covell and R.Brian Howe. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 2007. 21-44.

             Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs.  He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children.  His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children.  Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists.  He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favour of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography.  He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses.  However, Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents.  This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada.

Journal Article Example

  Kerr, Don and Roderic Beaujot. “Child Poverty and Family Structure in Canada, 1981-1997.”  Journal of Comparative Family Studies  34.3 (2003): 321-335.

             Sociology professors Kerr and Beaujot analyze the demographics of impoverished families.  Drawing on data from Canada’s annual Survey of Consumer Finances, the authors consider whether each family had one or two parents, the age of single parents, and the number of children in each household.  They analyze child poverty rates in light of both these demographic factors and larger economic issues.  Kerr and Beaujot use this data to argue that. 

Examples were taken from  http://libguides.enc.edu/writing_basics/ annotatedbib/mla

Check out these resources for more information about Annotated Bibliographies. 

  • Purdue Owl- Annotated Bibliographies
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill- Annotated Bibliographies
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What is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.

Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles.  The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.

Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:

  •     Main focus or purpose of the work
  •     Usefulness or relevance to your research topic 
  •     Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
  •     Background and credibility of the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by you

Annotations versus Abstracts

Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article.  This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation.  The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

Annotated Bibliography video

MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Ontiveros, Randy J.  In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014.

This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel  Caramelo  in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.

Journal article

Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.”  The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268.  ScienceDirect ,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 .

Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns.  This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.

*Note, citations have a .5 hanging indent and the annotations have a 1 inch indent. 

  • MLA 9th Sample Annotated Bibliography

MLA 8th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014. This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.

Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect , doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 . Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns.  This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.

  • MLA 8th Sample Annotated Bibliography

APA 7th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Alvarez, N. & Mearns, J. (2014). The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community.  The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41 (3), 263-268.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 Prior research has shown narrative writing to help with making meaning out of trauma. This article uses grounded theory to analyze semi-structured interviews with ten spoken word poets.  Because spoken word poetry is performed live, it creates personal and community connections that enhance the emotional development and resolution offered by the practice of writing. The findings are limited by the small, nonrandom sample (all the participants were from the same community).

  • APA 7th Sample Annotated Bibliography
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How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography

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Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. 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.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

The Process

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document

For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources . For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.

Choosing the Correct Citation Style

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page .

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:

Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 9th edition, 2021) for the journal citation. For additional annotation guidance from MLA, see 5.132: Annotated Bibliographies .

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Writing annotations.

  • Introduction
  • New RefWorks
  • Formatting Citations
  • Sample Annotated Bibliographies

An annotation is a brief note following each citation listed on an annotated bibliography.  The goal is to briefly summarize the source and/or explain why it is important for a topic.  They are typically a single concise paragraph, but might be longer if you are summarizing and evaluating.

Annotations can be written in a variety of different ways and it’s important to consider the style you are going to use.  Are you simply summarizing the sources, or evaluating them?  How does the source influence your understanding of the topic?  You can follow any style you want if you are writing for your own personal research process, but consult with your professor if this is an assignment for a class.

Annotation Styles

  • Combined Informative/Evaluative Style - This style is recommended by the library as it combines all the styles to provide a more complete view of a source.  The annotation should explain the value of the source for the overall research topic by providing a summary combined with an analysis of the source.  

Aluedse, O. (2006). Bullying in schools: A form of child abuse in schools.  Educational Research Quarterly ,  30 (1), 37.

The author classifies bullying in schools as a “form of child abuse,” and goes well beyond the notion that schoolyard bullying is “just child’s play.” The article provides an in-depth definition of bullying, and explores the likelihood that school-aged bullies may also experience difficult lives as adults. The author discusses the modern prevalence of bullying in school systems, the effects of bullying, intervention strategies, and provides an extensive list of resources and references.

Statistics included provide an alarming realization that bullying is prevalent not only in the United States, but also worldwide. According to the author, “American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims.” The author references the National Association of School Psychologists and quotes, “Thus, one in seven children is a bully or a target of bullying.” A major point of emphasis centers around what has always been considered a “normal part of growing up” versus the levels of actual abuse reached in today’s society.

The author concludes with a section that addresses intervention strategies for school administrators, teachers, counselors, and school staff. The concept of school staff helping build students’ “social competence” is showcased as a prevalent means of preventing and reducing this growing social menace. Overall, the article is worthwhile for anyone interested in the subject matter, and provides a wealth of resources for researching this topic of growing concern.

(Renfrow & Teuton, 2008)

  • Informative Style -  Similar to an abstract, this style focuses on the summarizing the source.  The annotation should identify the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source.

Plester, B., Wood, C, & Bell, V. (2008). Txt msg n school literacy: Does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children's literacy attainment? Literacy , 42(3), 137-144.

Reports on two studies that investigated the relationship between children's texting behavior, their knowledge of text abbreviations, and their school attainment in written language skills. In Study One, 11 to 12 year-old children reported their texting behavior and translated a standard English sentence into a text message and vice versa. In Study Two, children's performance on writing measures were examined more specifically, spelling proficiency was also assessed, and KS2 Writing scores were obtained. Positive correlations between spelling ability and performance on the translation exercise were found, and group-based comparisons based on the children's writing scores also showed that good writing attainment was associated with greater use of texting abbreviations (textisms), although the direction of this association is not clear. Overall, these findings suggest that children's knowledge of textisms is not associated with poor written language outcomes for children in this age range. 

(Beach et al., 2009)

  • Evaluative Style - This style analyzes and critically evaluates the source.  The annotation should comment on the source's the strengths, weaknesses, and how it relates to the overall research topic.

Amott, T. (1993). Caught in the Crisis: Women in the U.S. Economy Today . New York: Monthly Review Press.

A very readable (140 pp) economic analysis and information book which I am currently considering as a required collateral assignment in Economics 201. Among its many strengths is a lucid connection of "The Crisis at Home" with the broader, macroeconomic crisis of the U.S. working class (which various other authors have described as the shrinking middle class or the crisis of de-industrialization).

(Papadantonakis, 1996)

  • Indicative Style - This style of annotation identifies the main theme and lists the significant topics included in the source.  Usually no specific details are given beyond the topic list . 

Example: 

Gambell, T.J., & Hunter, D. M. (1999). Rethinking gender differences in literacy. Canadian Journal of Education , 24(1) 1-16.

Five explanations are offered for recently assessed gender differences in the literacy achievement of male and female students in Canada and other countries. The explanations revolve around evaluative bias, home socialization, role and societal expectations, male psychology, and equity policy.

(Kerka & Imel, 2004)

Beach, R., Bigelow, M., Dillon, D., Dockter, J., Galda, L., Helman, L., . . . Janssen, T. (2009). Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English.  Research in the Teaching of English,   44 (2), 210-241. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27784357

Kerka, S., & Imel, S. (2004). Annotated bibliography: Women and literacy.  Women's Studies Quarterly,  32 (1), 258-271. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233645656?accountid=2909

Papadantonakis, K. (1996). Selected Annotated Bibliography for Economists and Other Social Scientists.  Women's Studies Quarterly,   24 (3/4), 233-238. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40004384

Renfrow, T.G., & Teuton, L.M. (2008). Schoolyard bullying: Peer victimization an annotated bibliography. Community & Junior College Libraries, 14(4), 251-­275. doi:10.1080/02763910802336407

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Annotated Bibliographies

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What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (references) to books, articles, and documents followed by a brief summary, analysis or evaluation, usually between 100-300 words, of the sources that are cited in the paper.  This summary provides a description of the contents of the source and may also include evaluative comments, such as the relevance, accuracy and quality of the source.  These summaries are known as annotations. 

  • Annotated bibliographies are completed before a paper is written
  • They can be stand-along assignments
  • They can be used as a reference tool as a person works on their paper

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the descriptive summaries of article contents found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles that are written by the article author(s) or editor. Their purpose is to inform a reader about the topic, methodology, results and conclusion of the research of the article's author(s).  The summaries are provided so that a researcher can determine whether or not the article may have information of interest to them.  Abstracts do not serve an evaluative purpose.

Annotations found in bibliographies are evaluations of sources cited in a paper.  They describe a work, but also critique the source by examining the author’s point of view, the strengths and weakness of the research or article hypothesis or how well the author presented their research or findings.

How to write an annotated bibliography

The creation of an annotated bibliography is a three-step process. It starts with finding and evaluating sources for your paper. Next is choosing the type or category of annotation, then writing the annotation for each different source. The final step is to choose a citation style for the bibliography.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Types of Annotations

Annotations come in different types, the one to use depends on the instructor’s assignment.  Annotations can be descriptive, a summary, or an  evaluation or a combination of descriptive and evaluation.

Descriptive/Summarizing Annotations

There are two kinds of descriptive or summarizing annotations, informative or indicative, depending on what is most important for a reader to learn about a source.  Descriptive/summarizing annotations provide a brief overview or summary of the source. This can include a description of the contents and a statement of the main argument or position of the article as well as a summary of the main points.  It may also describe why the source would be useful for the paper’s topic or question. 

Indicative annotations provide a quick overview of the source, the kinds of questions/topics/issues or main points that are addressed by the source, but do not include information from the argument or position itself.

Informative annotations, like indicative annotations, provide a brief summary of the source.   In addition, an informative annotation identifies the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source.  When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to the topic under discussion.  However, they do not provide information about the sources usefulness to the paper or contains analytical or critical information about the source’s quality. 

Evaluative Annotations (also known as critical or analytical)

Evaluative annotations go beyond just summarizing the source and listing out it’s key points, but also analyzes the content. It looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the article’s argument, the reliability of the presented information as well as any biases of the author. It talks about how the source may be useful to a particular field of study or the person’s research project.

Combination Annotations

Combination annotations “combine” aspects from indicative/informative and evaluative annotations and are the most common category of annotated bibliography.  Combination annotations include one to two sentences summarizing or describing content, in addition to one or more sentences providing an critical evaluation.

Writing Style for Annotations

Annotations typically follow three specific formats depending on how long they are.

  • Phrases – Short phrases providing the information in a quick, concise manner.
  • Sentences – Complete sentences with proper punctuation and grammar, but are short and concise.
  • Paragraphs – Longer annotations break the information out into different paragraphs. This format is very effective for combination annotations.

To sum it up:

An annotation may include the following information:

  • A brief summary or overview of the source content
  • The source’s strengths and weaknesses in presenting the argument or position
  • Its conclusions
  • Why the source is relevant in to field of study of the paper
  • Its relationships to other studies in the field
  • An evaluation of the research methodology (if applicable)
  • Information about the author’s background and potential biases
  • Conclusions about the usefulness of the source for the paper

Critically Analyzing Articles

In order to write an annotation for a paper source, you need to first read and then critically analyze it:

  • Try to identify the topic of the source -- what is it about and is it clearly stated.
  • See if you can identify the purpose of the author(s) in doing the research or writing about the topic. Is it to survey and summarize research on a topic?  Is the author(s) presenting an argument based on previous research, or refuting previously published research?
  • Identify the research methods used and try to identify whether they appear to be suitable or not for the stated purpose of the research.  
  • Was the research reported in a consistent or clear manner?  Or, was the author's argument/position presented in a consistent or convincing manner? Did the author(s) fail to acknowledge and explain any limitations?
  • Was the logic of the research/argument claims properly supported with convincing evidence/analysis/data? Did you spot any fallacies?
  • Check whether the author(s) refers to other research and if similar studies have been done. 
  • If illustrations or charts are used, are they effective in presenting information?
  • Analyze the sources that were used by the author(s). Did the author(s) miss any important studies they should have considered?
  • Your opinion of the source -- do you agree with or are convinced of the findings?  
  • Your estimation of the source’s contribution to knowledge and its implications or applications to the field of study.

Worksheet for Taking Notes for Critical Analysis of Sources/Articles

Additional Resources:

Hofmann, B., Magelssen, M. In pursuit of goodness in bioethics: analysis of an exemplary article. BMC Med Ethics 19, 60 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-018-0299-9

Jansen, M., & Ellerton, P. (2018). How to read an ethics paper. Journal of Medical Ethics, 44(12), 810-813.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2018-104997

Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library  Critically Analyzing Information Sources: Critical Appraisal and Analysis

Formatting An Annotated Bibliography

How do I format my annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation.

The citation should be formatted in the bibliographic style that your instructor has requested for the paper. Some common citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago. For more information on citation styles, see Writing Guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological & Health Sciences .

Many databases (e.g., PubMed, Academic Search Premier, Library Search on library homepage, and Google Scholar) offer the option of creating your references in various citation styles. 

Look for the "cite" link -- see examples for the following resources:

University of Minnesota Library Search

Library Search Citation and List

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Citation List

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

An example of an Evaluative Annotation , APA style (7th ed). (sample from University Libraries, University of Nevada ).

APA does not have specific formatting rules for annotations, just for the citation and bibliography.

Maak, T. (2007). Responsible leadership, stakeholder engagement, and the emergence of social capital. Journal of Business Ethics, 74, 329-343.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9510-5

This article focuses on the role of social capital in responsible leadership. It looks at both the social networks that a leader builds within an organization, and the links that a leader creates with external stakeholders. Maak’s main aim with this article seems to be to persuade people of the importance of continued research into the abilities that a leader requires and how they can be acquired. The focus on the world of multinational business means that for readers outside this world many of the conclusions seem rather obvious (be part of the solution not part of the problem). In spite of this, the article provides useful background information on the topic of responsible leadership and definitions of social capital which are relevant to an analysis of a public servant.

An example of an Evaluative Annotation , MLA Style (10th ed), (sample from Columbia College, Vancouver, Canada )

MLA style requires double-spacing (not shown here) and paragraph indentations.

London, Herbert. “Five Myths of the Television Age.” Television Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, Mar. 1982, pp. 81-69.

     Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and author of several books and articles, explains how television contradicts five commonly believed ideas. He uses specific examples of events seen on television, such as the assassination of John Kennedy, to illustrate his points. His examples have been selected to contradict such truisms as: “seeing is believing”; “a picture is worth a thousand words”; and “satisfaction is its own reward.” London uses logical arguments to support his ideas which are his personal opinion. He does not refer to any previous works on the topic. London’s style and vocabulary would make the article of interest to any reader. The article clearly illustrates London’s points, but does not explore their implications leaving the reader with many unanswered questions.

Additional Resources

University Libraries Tutorial --  Tutorial: What are citations?  Completing this tutorial you will:

  • Understand what citations are
  • Recognize why they are important
  • Create and use citations in your papers and other scholarly work

University of Minnesota Resources

Beatty, L., & Cochran, C. (2020). Writing the annotated bibliography : A guide for students & researchers . New York, NY: Routledge. [ebook] 

Efron, S., Ravid, R., & ProQuest. (2019). Writing the literature review : A practical guide . New York: The Guilford Press. [ebook -- see Chapter 6 on Evaluating Research Articles] 

Center for Writing: Student Writing Support

  • Critical reading strategies
  • Common Writing Projects (includes resources for literature reviews & analyzing research articles)

Resources from Other Libraries

Annotated Bibliographies (The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Writing An Annotated Bibliography (University of Toronto)

Annotated Bibliographies (Purdue Writing Lab, Purdue University)

Annotated Bibliography (UNSW Sydney)

What is an annotated bibliography? (Santiago Canyon College Library): Oct 17, 2017. 3:47 min.

Writing an annotated bibliography (EasyBib.com) Oct 22, 2020. 4:53 min.

Creating an annotated bibliography (Laurier University Library, Waterloo, Ontario)/ Apr 3, 2019, 3:32 min.

How to create an annotated bibliography: MLA (JamesTheDLC) Oct 23, 2019. 3:03 min.

Citing Sources

Introduction

Citations are brief notations in the body of a research paper that point to a source in the bibliography or references cited section.

If your paper quotes, paraphrases, summarizes the work of someone else, you need to use citations.

Citation style guides such as APA, Chicago and MLA provide detailed instructions on how citations and bibliographies should be formatted.

Health Sciences Research Toolkit

Resources, tips, and guidelines to help you through the research process., finding information.

Library Research Checklist Helpful hints for starting a library research project.

Search Strategy Checklist and Tips Helpful tips on how to develop a literature search strategy.

Boolean Operators: A Cheat Sheet Boolean logic (named after mathematician George Boole) is a system of logic to designed to yield optimal search results. The Boolean operators, AND, OR, and NOT, help you construct a logical search. Boolean operators act on sets -- groups of records containing a particular word or concept.

Literature Searching Overview and tips on how to conduct a literature search.

Health Statistics and Data Sources Health related statistics and data sources are increasingly available on the Internet. They can be found already neatly packaged, or as raw data sets. The most reliable data comes from governmental sources or health-care professional organizations.

Evaluating Information

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources in the Health Sciences Understand what are considered primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

Scholarly vs Popular Journals/Magazines How to determine what are scholarly journals vs trade or popular magazines.

Identifying Peer-Reviewed Journals A “peer-reviewed” or “refereed” journal is one in which the articles it contains have been examined by people with credentials in the article’s field of study before it is published.

Evaluating Web  Resources When searching for information on the Internet, it is important to be aware of the quality of the information being presented to you. Keep in mind that anyone can host a web site. To be sure that the information you are looking at is credible and of value.

Conducting Research Through An Anti-Racism Lens This guide is for students, staff, and faculty who are incorporating an anti-racist lens at all stages of the research life cycle.

Understanding Research Study Designs Covers case studies, randomized control trials, systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

Qualitative Studies Overview of what is a qualitative study and how to recognize, find and critically appraise.

Writing and Publishing

Citing Sources Citations are brief notations in the body of a research paper that point to a source in the bibliography or references cited section.

Structure of a Research Paper Reports of research studies usually follow the IMRAD format. IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results, [and] Discussion) is a mnemonic for the major components of a scientific paper. These elements are included in the overall structure of a research paper.

Top Reasons for Non-Acceptance of Scientific Articles Avoid these mistakes when preparing an article for publication.

Annotated Bibliographies Guide on how to create an annotated bibliography.

Writing guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological and Health Sciences Style manuals, citation guides as well as information on public access policies, copyright and plagiarism.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annotated Bibliographies

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain why annotated bibliographies are useful for researchers, provide an explanation of what constitutes an annotation, describe various types of annotations and styles for writing them, and offer multiple examples of annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE styles of citation.

Introduction

Welcome to the wonderful world of annotated bibliographies! You’re probably already familiar with the need to provide bibliographies, reference pages, and works cited lists to credit your sources when you do a research paper. An annotated bibliography includes descriptions and explanations of your listed sources beyond the basic citation information you usually provide.

Why do an annotated bibliography?

One of the reasons behind citing sources and compiling a general bibliography is so that you can prove you have done some valid research to back up your argument and claims. Readers can refer to a citation in your bibliography and then go look up the material themselves. When inspired by your text or your argument, interested researchers can access your resources. They may wish to double check a claim or interpretation you’ve made, or they may simply wish to continue researching according to their interests. But think about it: even though a bibliography provides a list of research sources of all types that includes publishing information, how much does that really tell a researcher or reader about the sources themselves?

An annotated bibliography provides specific information about each source you have used. As a researcher, you have become an expert on your topic: you have the ability to explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them. Think of your paper as part of a conversation with people interested in the same things you are; the annotated bibliography allows you to tell readers what to check out, what might be worth checking out in some situations, and what might not be worth spending the time on. It’s kind of like providing a list of good movies for your classmates to watch and then going over the list with them, telling them why this movie is better than that one or why one student in your class might like a particular movie better than another student would. You want to give your audience enough information to understand basically what the movies are about and to make an informed decision about where to spend their money based on their interests.

What does an annotated bibliography do?

A good annotated bibliography:

  • encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas.
  • proves you have read and understand your sources.
  • establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.
  • situates your study and topic in a continuing professional conversation.
  • provides a way for others to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research if they read it.
  • could help interested researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of work going on in a field.

What elements might an annotation include?

  • Bibliography according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
  • Explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its thesis—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source.
  • Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
  • Comments on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work in terms of both the topic being researched and/or your own research project.
  • The point of view or perspective from which the work was written. For instance, you may note whether the author seemed to have particular biases or was trying to reach a particular audience.
  • Relevant links to other work done in the area, like related sources, possibly including a comparison with some of those already on your list. You may want to establish connections to other aspects of the same argument or opposing views.

The first four elements above are usually a necessary part of the annotated bibliography. Points 5 and 6 may involve a little more analysis of the source, but you may include them in other kinds of annotations besides evaluative ones. Depending on the type of annotation you use, which this handout will address in the next section, there may be additional kinds of information that you will need to include.

For more extensive research papers (probably ten pages or more), you often see resource materials grouped into sub-headed sections based on content, but this probably will not be necessary for the kinds of assignments you’ll be working on. For longer papers, ask your instructor about their preferences concerning annotated bibliographies.

Did you know that annotations have categories and styles?

Decisions, decisions.

As you go through this handout, you’ll see that, before you start, you’ll need to make several decisions about your annotations: citation format, type of annotation, and writing style for the annotation.

First of all, you’ll need to decide which kind of citation format is appropriate to the paper and its sources, for instance, MLA or APA. This may influence the format of the annotations and bibliography. Typically, bibliographies should be double-spaced and use normal margins (you may want to check with your instructor, since they may have a different style they want you to follow).

MLA (Modern Language Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic MLA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • MLA documentation is generally used for disciplines in the humanities, such as English, languages, film, and cultural studies or other theoretical studies. These annotations are often summary or analytical annotations.
  • Title your annotated bibliography “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Following MLA format, use a hanging indent for your bibliographic information. This means the first line is not indented and all the other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • Begin your annotation immediately after the bibliographic information of the source ends; don’t skip a line down unless you have been told to do so by your instructor.

APA (American Psychological Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic APA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • Natural and social sciences, such as psychology, nursing, sociology, and social work, use APA documentation. It is also used in economics, business, and criminology. These annotations are often succinct summaries.
  • Annotated bibliographies for APA format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References” designation.
  • Like MLA, APA uses a hanging indent: the first line is set flush with the left margin, and all other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line.
  • The entire annotation is indented an additional two spaces, so that means each of its lines will be six spaces from the margin (if your instructor has said that it’s okay to tab over instead of using the four spaces rule, indent the annotation two more spaces in from that point).

CBE (Council of Biology Editors)/CSE (Council of Science Editors)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic CBE/CSE bibliography formatting and rules.

  • CBE/CSE documentation is used by the plant sciences, zoology, microbiology, and many of the medical sciences.
  • Annotated bibliographies for CBE/CSE format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References,” “Cited References,” or “Literature Cited,” and set it flush with the left margin.
  • Bibliographies for CSE in general are in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the paper.
  • When using the name-year system, as in MLA and APA, the first line of each entry is set flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines, including the annotation, are indented three or four spaces.
  • When using the citation-sequence method, each entry begins two spaces after the number, and every line, including the annotation, will be indented to match the beginning of the entry, or may be slightly further indented, as in the case of journals.
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line. The entire annotation follows the indentation of the bibliographic entry, whether it’s N-Y or C-S format.
  • Annotations in CBE/CSE are generally a smaller font size than the rest of the bibliographic information.

After choosing a documentation format, you’ll choose from a variety of annotation categories presented in the following section. Each type of annotation highlights a particular approach to presenting a source to a reader. For instance, an annotation could provide a summary of the source only, or it could also provide some additional evaluation of that material.

In addition to making choices related to the content of the annotation, you’ll also need to choose a style of writing—for instance, telescopic versus paragraph form. Your writing style isn’t dictated by the content of your annotation. Writing style simply refers to the way you’ve chosen to convey written information. A discussion of writing style follows the section on annotation types.

Types of annotations

As you now know, one annotation does not fit all purposes! There are different kinds of annotations, depending on what might be most important for your reader to learn about a source. Your assignments will usually make it clear which citation format you need to use, but they may not always specify which type of annotation to employ. In that case, you’ll either need to pick your instructor’s brain a little to see what they want or use clue words from the assignment itself to make a decision. For instance, the assignment may tell you that your annotative bibliography should give evidence proving an analytical understanding of the sources you’ve used. The word analytical clues you in to the idea that you must evaluate the sources you’re working with and provide some kind of critique.

Summary annotations

There are two kinds of summarizing annotations, informative and indicative.

Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:

  • They sum up the content of the source, as a book report might.
  • They give an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and note the resulting conclusion.
  • They do not judge the work they are discussing. Leave that to the critical/evaluative annotations.
  • When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to material. For instance, you might mention if the source is an ethnography or if the author employs a particular kind of theory.

Informative annotation

Informative annotations sometimes read like straight summaries of the source material, but they often spend a little more time summarizing relevant information about the author or the work itself.

Indicative annotation

Indicative annotation is the second type of summary annotation, but it does not attempt to include actual information from the argument itself. Instead, it gives general information about what kinds of questions or issues are addressed by the work. This sometimes includes the use of chapter titles.

Critical/evaluative

Evaluative annotations don’t just summarize. In addition to tackling the points addressed in summary annotations, evaluative annotations:

  • evaluate the source or author critically (biases, lack of evidence, objective, etc.).
  • show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
  • explain how researching this material assisted your own project.

Combination

An annotated bibliography may combine elements of all the types. In fact, most of them fall into this category: a little summarizing and describing, a little evaluation.

Writing style

Ok, next! So what does it mean to use different writing styles as opposed to different kinds of content? Content is what belongs in the annotation, and style is the way you write it up. First, choose which content type you need to compose, and then choose the style you’re going to use to write it

This kind of annotated bibliography is a study in succinctness. It uses a minimalist treatment of both information and sentence structure, without sacrificing clarity. Warning: this kind of writing can be harder than you might think.

Don’t skimp on this kind of annotated bibliography. If your instructor has asked for paragraph form, it likely means that you’ll need to include several elements in the annotation, or that they expect a more in-depth description or evaluation, for instance. Make sure to provide a full paragraph of discussion for each work.

As you can see now, bibliographies and annotations are really a series of organized steps. They require meticulous attention, but in the end, you’ve got an entire testimony to all the research and work you’ve done. At the end of this handout you’ll find examples of informative, indicative, evaluative, combination, telescopic, and paragraph annotated bibliography entries in MLA, APA, and CBE formats. Use these examples as your guide to creating an annotated bibliography that makes you look like the expert you are!

MLA Example

APA Example

CBE Example

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bell, I. F., and J. Gallup. 1971. A Reference Guide to English, American, and Canadian Literature . Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzburg. 1991. Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing , 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books.

Center for Information on Language Teaching, and The English Teaching Information Center of the British Council. 1968. Language-Teaching Bibliography . Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Engle, Michael, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. 2012. “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography.” Olin & Uris Libraries. Cornell University. Last updated September 25, 2012. https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/how-prepare-annotated-bibliography.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Huth, Edward. 1994. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers . New York: University of Cambridge.

Kilborn, Judith. 2004. “MLA Documentation.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated March 16, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/research/mla.html.

Spatt, Brenda. 1991. Writing from Sources , 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s.

University of Kansas. 2018. “Bibliographies.” KU Writing Center. Last updated April 2018. http://writing.ku.edu/bibliographies .

University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2019. “Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/annotatedbibliography/ .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Research Process :: Step by Step

  • Introduction
  • Select Topic
  • Identify Keywords
  • Background Information
  • Develop Research Questions
  • Refine Topic
  • Search Strategy
  • Popular Databases
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Types of Periodicals
  • Reading Scholarly Articles
  • Primary & Secondary Sources
  • Organize / Take Notes
  • Writing & Grammar Resources
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Literature Review
  • Citation Styles
  • Paraphrasing
  • Privacy / Confidentiality
  • Research Process
  • Selecting Your Topic
  • Identifying Keywords
  • Gathering Background Info
  • Evaluating Sources

an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

The quality and usefulness of your bibliography will depend on your selection of sources. Define the scope of your research carefully to make sound judgments about what you include and exclude.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents that follows the appropriate style format for the discipline (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc). Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 word) descriptive and evaluative paragraph -- the annotation. Unlike abstracts, which are purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes, annotations are descriptive and critical. 

The purpose of the annotation is to  inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited .  The annotation exposes the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.

How do I create an annotated bibliography?

  • Locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that contain useful information and ideas on your topic.
  • Review the items. Choose those sources that provide a  variety of perspectives on your topic.
  • Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style. 
  • Write a concise annotation that  summarizes the central theme and scope o f the item.

Include  one or more sentences  that:

o    evaluate the authority or background of the author, 

o    comment on the intended audience, 

o    compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or 

o    explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

The annotation should include most, if not all, of the following elements:

  • Explanation of the main purpose and scope of t he cited work;
  • Brief description of the work's format and content;
  • Theoretical basis and currency of the author's argument; 
  • Author's intellectual / academic credentials; 
  • Work's intended audience;
  • Value and significance of the work as a contribution to the subject under consideration;
  • Possible shortcomings or bias in the work;
  • Any significant special features of the work (e.g., glossary, appendices, particularly good index);
  • Your own brief impression of the work.

An annotated bibliography is an  original work created by you  for a wider audience, usually faculty and colleagues. Copying any of the above elements from the source and including it in your annotated bibliography is plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty.

SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 6th edition, 2010)  for the journal citation.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.  American Sociological Review,   51 , 541-554.

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 8th edition, 2016)  for the journal citation.

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults."  American Sociological Review,  vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography - APA Style (7th Edition)

What is an annotation, how is an annotation different from an abstract, what is an annotated bibliography, types of annotated bibliographies, descriptive or informative, analytical or critical, to get started.

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, website, or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, website, or other type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations.

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract; it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question and its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

For example:

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulties many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a legal nurse consulting business. Pointing out issues of work-life balance, as well as the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, the author offers their personal experience as a learning tool. The process of becoming an entrepreneur is not often discussed in relation to nursing, and rarely delves into only the first year of starting a new business. Time management, maintaining an existing job, decision-making, and knowing yourself in order to market yourself are discussed with some detail. The author goes on to describe how important both the nursing professional community will be to a new business, and the importance of mentorship as both the mentee and mentor in individual success that can be found through professional connections. The article’s focus on practical advice for nurses seeking to start their own business does not detract from the advice about universal struggles of entrepreneurship makes this an article of interest to a wide-ranging audience.

An analytical or critical annotation not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.

Analytical or critical annotations will most likely be required when writing for a college-level course.

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulty many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a nurse consulting business. While the article focuses on issues of work-life balance, the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, marketing, and other business issues the author’s offer of only their personal experience is brief with few or no alternative solutions provided. There is no mention throughout the article of making use of other research about starting a new business and being successful. While relying on the anecdotal advice for their list of issues, the author does reference other business resources such as the Small Business Administration to help with business planning and professional organizations that can help with mentorships. The article is a good resource for those wanting to start their own legal nurse consulting business, a good first advice article even. However, entrepreneurs should also use more business research studies focused on starting a new business, with strategies against known or expected pitfalls and issues new businesses face, and for help on topics the author did not touch in this abbreviated list of lessons learned.

Now you are ready to begin writing your own annotated bibliography.

  • Choose your sources - Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the items - Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • The purpose of the work
  • A summary of its content
  • Information about the author(s)
  • For what type of audience the work is written
  • Its relevance to the topic
  • Any special or unique features about the material
  • Research methodology
  • The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he or she prefers.

Please see the  APA Examples page  for more information on citing in APA style.

  • Last Updated: Aug 8, 2023 11:27 AM
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How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliographies

  • Getting Started
  • Defining Your Topic
  • Finding Background Information
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Annotated Bibliographies

Developing an annotated bibliography is a good way to keep track of why you have scanned, photocopied, printed out, saved, or emailed some book, chapter, article, website, or other source of information to yourself.  It can serve as a way to begin an outline of your paper and to locate the reference needed at each point in your paper.

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (may be any variety of materials, books, documents, videos, articles, web sites, CD-ROMs, etc.) with an accompanying paragraph that describes, explains, and/or evaluates each entry in terms of quality, authority, and relevance. 

What Is the Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography may serve a number of purposes, including but not limited to:

A review of the literature on a particular subject

Illustrate the quality of research that you have done

Provide examples of the types of sources available

Describe other items on a topic that may be of interest to the reader

Explore the subject for further research

The annotated bibliography may be selective or comprehensive in its coverage. A selective annotated bibliography includes just those items that are best for the topic while an exhaustive annotated bibliography attempts to identify all that is available on a subject.  --Skidmore College. Lucy Scribner Library.

Here is assistance in creating an annotated bibliography.

  • Purdue OWL:  Annotated Bibliography
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Annotated Bibliographies
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Generate accurate MLA citations for free

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  • How to create an MLA style annotated bibliography

MLA Style Annotated Bibliography | Format & Examples

Published on July 13, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on June 14, 2022.

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.

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

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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Table of contents

Mla format for annotated bibliographies, length and content of annotations, frequently asked questions about annotated bibliographies.

The list should be titled either “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.” You may be told which title to use; “bibliography” is normally used for a list that also includes sources you didn’t cite in your paper or that isn’t connected to a paper at all.

Sources are usually organized alphabetically , like in a normal Works Cited list, but can instead be organized chronologically or by subject depending on the purpose of the assignment.

The source information is presented and formatted in the same way as in a normal Works Cited entry:

  • Double-spaced
  • Left-aligned
  • 0.5 inch hanging indent

The annotation follows on the next line, also double-spaced and left-aligned. The whole annotation is indented 1 inch from the left margin to distinguish it from the 0.5 inch hanging indent of the source entry.

  • If the annotation is only one paragraph long, there’s no additional indent for the start of the paragraph.
  • If there are two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph , including the first, an additional half-inch (so those lines are indented 1.5 inches in total).

MLA annotated bibliography

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

MLA gives some guidelines for writing the annotations themselves. They cover how concise you need to be and what exactly you should write about your sources.

Phrases or full sentences?

MLA states that it’s acceptable to use concise phrases rather than grammatically complete sentences in your annotations.

While you shouldn’t write this way in your main text, it’s acceptable in annotations because the subject of the phrase is clear from the context. It’s also fine to use full sentences instead, if you prefer.

  • Broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day.
  • Kenny presents a broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day.

Always use full sentences if your instructor requires you to do so, though.

How many paragraphs?

MLA states that annotations usually aim to be concise and thus are only one paragraph long. However, it’s acceptable to write multiple-paragraph annotations if you need to.

If in doubt, aim to keep your annotations short, but use multiple paragraphs if longer annotations are required for your assignment.

Descriptive, evaluative, or reflective annotations?

MLA states that annotations can describe or evaluate sources, or do both. They shouldn’t go into too much depth quoting or discussing minor details from the source, but aim to write about it in broad terms.

You’ll usually write either descriptive , evaluative , or reflective annotations . If you’re not sure what kind of annotations you need, consult your assignment guidelines or ask your instructor.

An annotated bibliography is an assignment where you collect sources on a specific topic and write an annotation for each source. An annotation is a short text that describes and sometimes evaluates the source.

Any credible sources on your topic can be included in an annotated bibliography . The exact sources you cover will vary depending on the assignment, but you should usually focus on collecting journal articles and scholarly books . When in doubt, utilize the CRAAP test !

Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs .

The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment. An annotation can be descriptive, meaning it just describes the source objectively; evaluative, meaning it assesses its usefulness; or reflective, meaning it explains how the source will be used in your own research .

No, in an MLA annotated bibliography , you can write short phrases instead of full sentences to keep your annotations concise. You can still choose to use full sentences instead, though.

Use full sentences in your annotations if your instructor requires you to, and always use full sentences in the main text of your paper .

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What is an Annotated Bibliography & Why Write One

Mla annotated bibliography example, apa annotated bibliography example, chicago style annotated bibliography example.

  • How to Create an Attribution

What is an Annotated Bibliography

A bibliograph y is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) you used for researching your topic. Bibliographies are called "Works Cited" (in MLA Style) and "References" (in APA Style)  Your bibliography will include the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.) that your reader would need to identify and locate the original source you're citing.

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation of a source.

Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes your citation followed by a summary and/or evaluation of each of your sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say?
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be 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?
  • Reflect: Once you've 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? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others.

Be sure to always follow the specific instructions your instructor gives you.

Why Write an Annotated Bibliography

Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.

Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information.

MLA tells us that, you should cite a source in an annotated bibliography just as you would in a list of works cited and then append an annotation to the end of the entry. Annotations describe and/or evaluate sources. Further, annotations should not rehash minor details, cite evidence, quote the author, or recount steps in an argument. Writing an effective annotation requires reading the work, understanding its aims, and clearly summarizing them.

To learn more about annotated bibliographies click on the link below from Purdue OWL

Sample annotated bibliography using mla.

  • MLA 9 Annotated Bibliography Sample

Annotated Bibliography Template

You may also want to use the template below. Just type over the words in the template with your own information, citations, and annotations.

  • MLA, 9th ed. Annotated Bibliography Template

Formatting Rules

  • Order your references in alphabetical order as you would in your References.
  • Each annotation should be a new paragraph below its reference entry. Indent the entire annotation 0.5 in. from the left margin.
  • 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.

Because your teachers generally set all the other requirements for your annotated bibliography, ask your teacher for specific instructions. For example, ask if your annotated bibliography should include a title page.  

Sample Annotated Bibliography Using APA Style

  • Sample APA Annotated Bibliography
  • Order your references in alphabetical order as you would in your Bibliography.

Because your teachers generally set all the other requirements for your annotated bibliography, ask your teacher for specific instructions. For example, ask if your annotated bibliography should include a title page.

Sample Annotated Bibliography Using Chicago Style

Example of Annotated Bibliography Using Chicago Style

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Annotated Bibliography Samples

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.

Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.

Sample MLA Annotation

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.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.

For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 9th Edition (2021) Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess . London: Routledge, 1998.

Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.

This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.

For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

VII. Researched Writing

7.6 Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Emilie Zickel; Melanie Gagich; and Terri Pantuso

As you are gathering sources in your research, you will want to keep track of which information comes from what source. While other strategies have been discussed such as note taking, some researchers use an annotated bibliography for long term reference purposes. As the name implies, an annotated bibliography is the bibliographical reference of a given source along with key information from that source that you may use for future reference. As assignment parameters will vary by instructor, generally speaking the annotations are 150-200 words in length per source and do not include quoted material. The purpose of the annotations is to summarize the material within the context of your thesis statement.

Annotated Bibliographies follow a common structure and format. Below is an explanation of the elements and format of an annotated bibliography.

Components of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotation often offers a summary of a source that you intend to use for a research project as well as some assessment of the source’s relevance to your project or quality and credibility. There are two key components for each source: the citation and the annotation.

The Annotated Bibliography Samples page [1]  on the Purdue OWL offers examples of general formatting guidelines for both an MLA and an APA Annotated Bibliography.

You will provide the full bibliographic reference for the source: author, title, source title, and other required information depending on the type of source. This will be formatted just as it would be in a typical Works Cited for an MLA paper or a References page for an APA paper.

Tone and Style

Some elements can vary depending on the style you are using (e.g., APA or MLA). Be sure to review your style guide along with your assignment sheet. Generally speaking, use the following as a guide:

  • Use signal phrases to refer to the author(s).
  • Always maintain a neutral tone and use the third-person point of view and correct tense according to style guide (present tense for MLA, past tense for APA) (i.e., Tompkins asserts… ).
  • Keep the focus of the summary on the text, not on what you think of it, and try to put as most of the summary as you can in your own words. If you must use exact phrases from the source that you are summarizing, you must quote and cite them.
  • Annotations should not be a replication of the abstract provided by the source.

What to Include in Annotations

  • After the bibliographical information, begin to discuss the source. Begin with a general summary of the source. Describe the key sections of the text and their corresponding main points. Try to avoid focusing on details; a summary covers the essential points and typically does not include quoted material.
  • Evaluate the source’s credibility or relevance. Is the author an expert on the topic? How do you know? Is the source peer-reviewed or otherwise credible in nature? How do you know? What makes this source a good one to use?
  • Discuss how you plan to integrate the source in your paper. Do you need to point out similarities or differences with other sources in the annotated bibliography? How does it support (or refute) your intended thesis?

Review your Annotated Bibliography assignment sheet for additional content requirements . Instructors often require more than a simple summary of each source, and specific requirements may vary. Any (or all) of these aspects may be required in an annotated bibliography, depending on how or if your instructor has designed this assignment as part of a larger research project.

This section contains material from:

Gagich, Melanie, and Emilie Zickel. “Keeping Track of Your Sources and Writing an Annotated Bibliography.” In A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing . Cleveland: MSL Academic Endeavors. Accessed July 2019. https://pressbooks.ulib.csuohio.edu/csu-fyw-rhetoric/chapter/annotated-bibliography/ . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

OER credited in the text above includes:

Jeffrey, Robin. About Writing: A Guide . Portland, OR: Open Oregon Educational Resources. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/aboutwriting/ . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

  • "Annotated Bibliography Samples," Purdue Online Writing Lab, accessed December 20, 2021, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/annotated_bibliographies/annotated_bibliography_samples.html . ↵

A statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes an argument that will later be explained, expanded upon, and developed in a longer essay or research paper. In undergraduate writing, a thesis statement is often found in the introductory paragraph of an essay. The plural of thesis is theses .

7.6 Writing an Annotated Bibliography Copyright © 2022 by Emilie Zickel; Melanie Gagich; and Terri Pantuso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

Are annotations the same as abstracts and summaries, a sample annotated bibliography, write an annotated bibliography without reading the whole book.

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Book Reviews

Book reviews can offer much of the same content of summary, critique, and recommendations for usage as annotations, though often in a longer format.

  • Guide to Writing Book Reviews From the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center

An annotated bibliography is a list of books, articles, or other documents, consisting of a citation followed by a brief evaluation of each work listed.

  • The citation is a description of the essential elements of the work (including author, title, year of publication, publisher, and publication date), listed in a certain style (typically Chicago style for History) with specific capitalization, indentation, and punctuation.
  • Brief summary of the content and usefulness of the item
  • Note of any limitations that the item may have, e.g. level, timeliness etc.
  • Description of what audience the item is intended for
  • Evaluation of the methods of research used
  • Comment on the reliability of the item
  • Description of the author’s background
  • Summary of the author’s conclusions
  • Commentary on how the item may be useful for your research.

An annotated bibliography, like any list of works cited, should be presented in alphabetical order by author's last name.

Writing an annotated helps you kick-start research for a paper by helping you get a handle on what research is available to support your own thesis. It also illustrates to your professor the scope and quality of your work and will show that you have read and understood the research in your area of study. It also informs the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

No! A summary, often called an abstract, is simply a short retelling of the work. A summary does not include an interpretive statement about the work. An annotation is a critical analysis and interpretation of the work in relation to one's own research.

  • Sample Annotated Bibliography with Research Question Annotations should express how the material will help you answer your research question. This sample includes a research question and each annotation relates to that question.

Duus, Peter, ed. The Japanese Discovery of Ameria: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books,        1997.

This book explores the relationship between Japan and the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, focusing on the dramatic differences between the two cultures and the uneasiness, confusion, and misunderstandings that arose from those differences. In a short introductory history, Duus discusses Japanese isolationism, the military and economic factors that led the United States to forcefully open relations with Japan, and the ways in which the Japanese observed and interpreted Americans and their culture. The main body of the text comprises a series of documents, including political pamphlets, autobiographies, eyewitness accounts, broadsheets, and printes. The inclusion of both Japanese and American views of Japan invites a comparison of mutual misunderstandings.

An example from Mary Lynn Rampolla's A Pocket Guide to Writing in History . 3rd. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001.  

Ehrenreich, B. Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001. 

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently: possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Wal-Mart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financialstruggles in each situation. An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

For more examples, go to Purdue Online Writing Lab  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/03/

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. After a brief summary, it would be appropriate to assess this source and offer some criticisms of it. Does it seem like a reliable and current source? Why? Is the research biased or objective? Are the facts well documented? Who is the author? Is she qualified in this subject? Is this source scholarly, popular, some of both?

The length of your annotation will depend on the assignment or on the purpose of your annotated bibliography. After summarizing and assessing, you can then reflect on the source. How does it fit into your research? Is this a helpful resource? Too scholarly? Not scholarly enough? Too general/specific? Has this source helped you narrow your topic?

Using a variety of sources can give you a broader picture of what is being said about your topic. You may want to investigate how scholarly sources are treating this topic differently than more popular sources. But again, if your assignment is to only use scholarly sources, then you will probably want to avoid magazines and popular web sites.

If you are writing an annotated bibliography with many sources, it may be helpful to divide the sources into categories. For example, if I were putting together an extensive annotated bibliography for stem cell research, I might divide the sources into categories such as ethical concerns, scholarly analyses, and political ramifications.

To write an effective annotation, you need not necessarily read the entire work. For a book, you should read the introduction and the conclusion. You should also read any notes provided by the author, and look carefully at the table of contents and index to see what topics the author covers. Read the authors credentials and any notes he or she provides about the work. Look also at the sources the author uses to draw conclusions.

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Writing an Annotated Bibliography for a Paper

Providing an Overview of Research Published on a Given Topic

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An annotated bibliography  is an expanded version of a regular  bibliography —those lists of sources you find at the end of a research paper or book. The difference is that an annotated bibliography contains an added feature: a paragraph or annotation under each bibliographical entry.

The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to provide the reader with a complete overview of the articles and books that have been written about a certain subject. Learning some background about annotated bibliographies—as well as a few key steps to writing one—will help you to quickly create an effective annotated bibliography for your assignment or research paper.

Annotated Bibliography Features

The annotated bibliography gives your readers a glimpse of the work a professional researcher would do. Every published article provides statements about prior research on the topic at hand.

A teacher may require that you write an annotated bibliography as the first step of a big research assignment. You would most likely write an annotated bibliography first and then follow with a research paper using the sources you've found.

But you may find that your annotated bibliography is an assignment on its own: It can also stand alone as a research project, and some annotated bibliographies are published. A stand-alone annotated bibliography (one that is not followed by a research paper assignment) would most likely be longer than a first-step version.

How It Should Look

Write the annotated bibliography just like a normal bibliography, but add between one and five concise sentences under each bibliographical entry. Your sentences should summarize the source content and explain how or why the source is important. Things you might mention include whether the:

  • Thesis  of the source is one you support or don't support
  • Author has a unique experience or point of view related to your topic
  • Source provides a sound basis for a paper you intend to write, leaves some questions unanswered, or has a political bias

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Find a few good sources for your research, and then expand by consulting the bibliographies of those sources. They will lead you to additional sources. The number of sources will depend on the depth of your research.

Determine how deeply you need to read each of these sources. Sometime you'll be expected to read each source carefully before putting it into your annotated bibliography; in other cases, skimming the source will be sufficient.

When you are doing an initial investigation of all of the sources available, your teacher may not expect you to read each source thoroughly. Instead, you likely will be expected to read parts of the sources to learn the essence of the content. Before beginning, check with your teacher to determine whether you have to read every word of every source that you plan to include.

Alphabetize your entries, just as you would in a normal bibliography.

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Annotated Bibliography Format & Examples

A complete guide to the mla & apa annotated bibliography.

If you’ve just received an assignment that requires an MLA or APA annotated bibliography, you may be wondering where to start. This guide will help answer all of your questions and includes step-by-step instructions on how to do an annotated bibliography in MLA style, as well as an APA annotated bibliography. You will also find sample annotated bibliographies, real-life examples, and opportunities to practice what you have learned.

The MLA ( Modern Language Association ) and APA (American Psychological Association) are not associated with this guide. All of the information provided here, however, offers direction for students and researchers who use these citation styles in their work.

The structures and annotated bibliography templates on this page were created by the in-house librarians at EasyBib.com.

If you’re simply looking for an example of an annotated bibliography (both in MLA format and APA format), scroll down toward the bottom of the page. We’ve included links to visuals for those of you who need help with the structure and styling of an annotated bibliography. If you’re looking for a variety of annotated bibliography topics, and you’re truly searching for the answer to, “What is an annotated bibliography?” then continue reading!

Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:

Table of contents

What is an annotated bibliography, annotations vs. abstract, why include annotations.

  • Step 1: Analyze your sources

Step 2: Write the descriptions

  • Step 3a: Formatting an MLA style annotated bibliography
  • Step 3b: Formatting an APA style annotated bibliography

Annotated Bibliography Templates

Using the easybib annotation tool.

A bibliography is a complete list of the sources that were used to complete a research paper or project.

Depending on the style guide you follow, you may also see this called a Works Cited (also called an MLA bibliography) or Reference List (APA format). Each listed source, or citation , shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other details that serve to credit the original authors whose work informed your research. These details also help other students and researchers find and read the source materials.

When your research is related to a scholastic assignment, you should always verify your instructor’s requirements for the types and number of sources to include, as well as the style you should adhere to when formatting your paper and bibliography.

An MLA annotated bibliography and an APA format annotated bibliography are bibliographies that include a concise explanation, or annotation , of each listed source. Depending on the assignment, this annotation may be solely descriptive, or analytical.

An abstract and annotation should not be confused; they differ in both their substance as well as their placement in a paper.

Annotations: 

  • Usually found in bibliographies at the end of a paper
  • Are subjective
  • Purpose is to summarize and evaluate . It should briefly communicate the work’s main point, but also discuss the background of the author or study, and the strengths/weaknesses of the work.

Abstracts: 

  • Usually found in journal databases or the beginning of a paper
  • Are objective
  • Purpose is to summarize . It should provide a short overview of the article and communicate the main points and themes.

If you would like to learn more , this link further explores the difference between an abstract and an annotation.

This resource provides additional information on how to write a bibliography with annotations in other formats. You can also take advantage of the plagiarism checker and bibliography tools that come with EasyBib Plus to help you create your reference lists.

Before you learn how to make an annotated bibliography, you may be wondering why you need to.

Sometimes instructors want you to create and include annotations in your bibliography, either as part of an assignment or as an assignment unto itself. Understanding the purpose of this approach to your reference list can help to ensure that you gain all of the benefits that the annotated bibliography process provides.

As a student, this method will help you develop or hone your research skills, providing you with practice not only in locating sources but also in analyzing and evaluating them for relevance and quality.

Your instructor will gain insight into your research abilities, as well, allowing them to assess your work more thoroughly. If you plan to publish your research, this comprehensive approach to detailing your sources will provide readers and other researchers with a substantial directory of resources to evaluate for their own work.

Whether you’re publishing or submitting your annotated bibliography, make sure your spelling and wording is correct! If you need to brush up on any parts of speech topics, check out our interjection , determiner , and adverb pages!

Step 1: Analyze your sources 

Each annotation should be a summarization or analysis of your source. If you have been tasked with writing annotations as part of a research paper or project, begin to create both the citation and notes on the source while you identify and analyze your sources.

Not only will this approach help you to hone your research skills and identify sources that are relevant and useful for your topic, but you will also save time. When done in this manner, both your citations and annotations will be nearly complete before you begin to write the body of your paper.

Analyzing your potential sources requires a two-pronged approach that first evaluates the author, publication, and date, and then examines the content.

When conducting your initial assessment of the source, consider some of the following questions to guide your appraisal:

  • What qualifies the author to write on this subject?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution in this field?
  • Is the author credentialed or otherwise considered an expert in this field?
  • Is this source current?
  • Is this the most recent edition?
  • Is the publisher reputable?
  • Is the journal reputable?

Once your primary evaluation is complete, you will move on the assessing the content itself. Consider some of these elements as you review each source:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author presenting her opinion or interpretation as the truth, or stating facts?
  • What supporting evidence does the author provide?
  • Did the author perform the research, or curate and present the research of others?
  • If the author used the research of others, are the sources the author cites credible?
  • Are there errors or omissions of fact?
  • Is the author writing objectively and without bias?

Also, consider the value each source provides to you:

  • Is the information helpful for your particular assignment?
  • Does it help answer your research question(s)?
  • Is this source different from your other sources, or does it repeat information you already have?
  • Is the source providing you with a different perspective on your topic, or changing your beliefs or thinking about your subject?

To make it easier for you to create your reference page, write your notes in the format you will be using when you construct this part of the assignment (for instance, as short phrases or complete sentences). Once you have identified all of the sources you wish to include, you will merely need to insert what you have already written on the page and write your citation, which is explained in the next section.

Click here for additional information and a supplementary annotated bibliography sample. For an MLA bibliography example (with annotations),  check out our visual example of an MLA annotated bibliography .

An annotated bibliography entry may be written either as short phrases or complete sentences. Your instructor will advise you of which approach you are required to take.

Annotations should include either:

  • The main points from the source, as well as the topics covered, the approach used, and any findings.
  • Or your critical evaluation.
  • A standard annotation is approximately one paragraph.
  • Take care not to include any unnecessary details, as the goal is to summarize each source as succinctly as possible and, in some cases, evaluate them.
  • Your field of study or instructor will determine what format your annotated bibliography will use. In this guide, you’ll find examples of an MLA and an APA annotated bibliography.

Here is an annotated bibliography example MLA annotation for the book The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by UK author and blogger Mark Forsyth:

The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.

Notice how the annotated bibliography MLA entry above is descriptive enough so the reader has an idea of what the source is about with just a single paragraph. For more information on annotations, check out this informative site . If you’re looking to strengthen your writing in general, reading these grammar guides could be a good start.

For guidance on creating entries in MLA format , APA format , and more styles , check out the EasyBib library of resources or try the EasyBib annotation tool—we talk about it below!

Step 3a: MLA annotated bibliography format

The MLA Style Center and the current edition of the MLA Handbook provide the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography:

  • Title your reference page as “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Place each annotation after its reference.
  • Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.
  • Annotations should be indented one inch from the start of your citation.
  • Double-space all text on the page.
  • 1-inch margins around the page.

Sources in an annotated bibliography can be organized alphabetically by the first word in each reference (as with a normal Works Cited page), by publication date, or by subject.

For a visual example of an annotated bibliography, as well as specific annotation examples, visit the MLA annotated bibliography guide .

MLA annotated bibliography

If you are required to share your references in a manner other than in MLA bibliography format, the EasyBib style guides can help you with many common styles. While you’re at it, check out their conjunction , preposition , and pronoun pages to help keep your paper in mint condition!

Step 3b: APA annotated bibliography format

The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but asks that the bibliography be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual ). If your teacher has requested an APA formatted annotated bibliography, first ask them for guidelines. Otherwise, here are some quick rules for you to follow:

  • Double space all text on the page.  
  • Title your page “Annotated Bibliogra phy”. Bold and center the title.  
  • Organize references alphabetically by the first word of each reference.  
  • Only the first line of a ref erence is flush with the left margin. Any other lines after the first line should be indented ½ inch from the left.  
  • Add annotations on the next line after their paired reference.   
  • Fully indent annotations by a ½ inch from the left.  
  • Keep annotations short. No more than one paragraph.  

For examples of a  properly formatted APA annotation, visit this guide on APA annotated bibliographies .  

In comparison to the sample annotated bibliography MLA, the APA sample formats its page elements and references differently.

an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

Students and researchers who type their research notes can save time by using an annotated bibliography template in MLA format while reviewing and analyzing sources. By adding the relevant information into a pre-formatted template, you’ll create a resource that helps you when you begin writing your paper in addition to saving time by completing your references and summaries alongside your research.

Students who prefer to take notes by hand can employ a modified version of this approach, with an additional step required to transfer your handwritten and formatted references from your notebook to populate your reference page.

Bibliography Template for MLA

To create an annotated bibliography MLA template, copy the following details into the program in which you will take notes or hand write it on the top margin of a page in your notebook. For each source, use this template to guide you as you identify the necessary details and insert them into your notes:

  • Author (Last name, First name).
  • Title of source.
  • Title of the container ,
  • Other contributors (names and roles),
  • Publication Date,
  • Location of the source (such as URL or page range).
  • Summary or Analysis.

The MLA 9 model for MLA works cited entries offers a single format for all source type, and a great deal of flexibility to include the information most relevant to your topic and omit that which isn’t.

Hopefully our visual annotated bibliography example in MLA above has helped. If you still have lingering questions, visit the MLA Style Center online ( linked here ). Also, here’s a guide if you’re looking for more on the related topic of MLA in-text & parenthetical citations .

Bibliography Template for APA

Students and researchers who are still asking themselves how to piece together an annotated bibliography, or still questioning what is an annotated bibliography, could probably benefit from a template, similar to the one above. This one, however, is for those of you who are tasked with creating an annotated bibliography in the style created by the American Psychological Association.

The tricky thing about this specific style though, is that every reference is styled differently. Books, websites, journal articles, newspaper articles, and many others each have their own reference structure.

For most sources though, you should look for the following, basic information:

  • Type of source
  • Author (last name, first name)
  • Title of source/article/web page, etc.
  • Title of where source was found (e.g., database name, website name, etc.)
  • Other contributors (names and roles)
  • Location of the source (such as URL, DOI, or page range)
  • Summary or Analysis

We understand it can get tricky, and it’s very different from the Modern Language Association’s structure for references. Take a moment to either use the other handy guides on EasyBib.com or use our automatic generator to form your references in just a few clicks. Our tools help take the pain away from having to rack your brain to form references properly. Capitals, lowercase letters, italics, quotation marks, punctuation in the appropriate places, it can all be quite overwhelming. Do yourself a favor, and use the EasyBib automatic citation generator.

Even though there are a lot of different variations, here’s a commonly used structure for sources:

Author’s Last Name, First initial, Middle initial. (Year the source was published). Title of the source . Retrieved from (insert the website address here)

Underneath the reference, include your summary or analysis paragraph.

Hopefully, this page helped answer all of your “What is an annotated bibliography?” questions. If you’re seeking out an annotated bibliography generator, follow the steps above the annotated bibliography examples.

Looking for additional help with other related topics? Don’t forget about the various beneficial guides on EasyBib.com! Our APA in-text citation guide and our APA parenthetical citation guide are two of our most popular pages. Learn the ins and outs of referencing your work in the body of your paper with our thorough, complete, and reader-friendly guides.

If you are creating a bibliography in MLA format, the EasyBib MLA bibliography generator can help save you time formatting your citations and annotations correctly. You can create entries for websites, books, videos, databases, dictionary articles, and many other types of sources.

In addition to forming the citations, you can also enter your annotation text to produce the complete entry for each source. The process for this is simple. You can follow along below to practice creating one:

  • First, select your source type from among the 50+ available options. For this example, we will use the acting career of Keanu Reeves as our research topic and use the movie Point Break from 1991 as our first source. To cite this film, you would select the option for “Film/Online Video.” As you follow along, pick the option that is suitable for your source if you are using a different example.
  • Enter the title of your source or, if you are citing a website, you may enter the URL. (Now would be a great time to peek at how to cite websites in MLA ). After you enter the title or URL for your reference, the EasyBib citation tool will scan for titles that match it and provide you with a list of results. Select “Cite this” next to the listing that matches your source.
  • You will see a citation form. This gives you the option to add additional relevant or necessary information. For our sample topic, we will specifically cite Keanu Reeves as the performer and Kathryn Bigelow as the director.
  • After entering any additional details, you have the option to expand your entry and include an annotation. To do so, select “Add annotation” at the bottom of the page, and a text box will open up.

Then, type your summary or analysis into the text box. If you took notes during the research stage using the format of your paper, this might be as simple as copying and pasting your already written summary or critique. Once you have entered all of the necessary information, select “Create citation” to generate the complete entry. You can then copy and paste this into your MLA bibliography.

Here’s what it’ll look like:

Point Break . Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, performance by Keanu Reeves, 20th Century Fox, 1991.

Reeves’ role as rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah in Point Break marks the turning point in his Hollywood film career. While he’d risen to fame due to the success of the Bill and Ted franchise, his status today as an action star began when Point Break provided him with the material to establish himself as capable of portraying more than the lovable but unserious characters of his previous starring roles. In a parallel arc, director Kathryn Bigelow’s career also sees a shift beginning with Point Break , establishing her within the traditional action genre as a serious director capable of creating high-action and visually memorable films. While Point Break leaves plenty to be desired in terms of dialogue, it afforded Bigelow and Reeves the opportunities to showcase themselves and their talent in new ways that still echo in their work today.

  • Works Cited

Harner, James L.  On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography . 2nd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2000.

MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 7th ed., American Psychological Association, 2020.

“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center , The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/.

Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.

Published October 18, 2015. Updated July 25, 2021.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and is the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

Citation Guides

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An annotated bibliography is a list containing complete information of sources, such as journals, books, and reports, cited in the text. In addition, it provides a brief description of each source in about 100–150 words. The annotation can explain the topics covered in the source or evaluate the source. The main objective of giving the annotation is to provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source.

An example of an annotated bibliography in APA style is given below.

Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35 (1), 61–76. https://doi:10.1080/01596306.2012.739467

Lim (2014) focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in making our understanding of what thinking and rationality are. It must facilitate the social reproduction of a specific proportion of the middle class.

If you want to evaluate or provide a description of a source you are citing, you can create an annotated bibliography. Write your annotation in 100–150 words and add it below the source for which you are providing your annotation. Remember, your annotation should provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source. Below are the guidelines and rules to be followed while writing an annotated bibliography for APA style:

Order your reference entries in alphabetical order, similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.

If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a fresh paragraph below the reference entry. The annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. However, the first line of the annotation is not indented.

To format the annotated bibliography, follow the recommendations given below:

Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins to 1 inch.

Give double-line spacing.

Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.

The title should be aligned to the center of the page.

As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inch from the left margin.

Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.

Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.

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How to Cite

  • Getting Started with Citation
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  • APA tutorials and lessons: Credo
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  • MLA tutorials and lessons: Credo
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Ask a Librarian

INTRODUCTION

Introduction

Annotated bibliographies are lists of resources that include an evaluative summary of each resource. They are usually written prior to writing a research paper that uses the annotated sources. More than just a summary of the article, annotated bibliographies give you a chance to critique the resources you're finding. They can also help you determine whether your research question is viable. Take a look at some of the resources on this page to help you write a strong annotated bibliography!

How do I write an annotated bibliography?

When writing an annotated bibliography, it's helpful to ask yourself these 3 questions for each source:

1. What is this book/journal article/etc really about?   Summarize the main points.  Remember that an annotated bibliography is more than just a summary, however.

2.  How does this resource relate to the other sources in my bibliography?   Is it biased?  Is it basic or advanced?  Who are the authors and how do they compare with the other authors?  Critically analyze your resource and compare it to other resources in your annotated bibliography.

3. How does this resource help or hurt my research?   What is the unique information?  How does this uphold or change your research focus? Should you include it in your paper?  Why or why not?

The point of an annotated bibliography is to tell the story of your research and your thinking process so that when you sit down to write the paper, you have a strong foundation of thought and information.

Annotated Bibliography Tutorial

This tutorial by Credo Instruct can also be found on the Information Literacy guide.  After completing, you'll have a better understanding of how to present your research in an annotated bibliography format.

Other Annotated Bibliography Guides

Take a look at these guides for more detailed information! 

  • OWL at Purdue: Annotated Bibliographies The OWL is a great resource and their online guide gives a good introduction to different types of annotated bibliographies. They also have examples of finished annotated bibliographies.
  • The Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill This guide goes into detail describing different types of annotated bibliographies. The Writing Center also has some great examples. Take a look at list of elements included in annotated bibliographies to get started!
  • Cornell University Annotated Bibliography Guide This guide is one of the few guides that describes the process of writing an annotated bibliography. The information on 'Critically Appraising the book, article, or document' is a great place to get started. Start here if you already have your resources.
  • SPSU Guide This guide from SPSU has a clear format for creating an annotated bibliography as well as examples. If you are looking for quick, clear information, check this guide out!
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an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  • Writing Guide
  • Writing Preparations
  • Narrow Your Topic
  • Research Planning
  • Grammar & Writing
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Abstract & Annotated Bibliography
  • Paper Properties
  • Revision Checklist
  • Group Projects
  • Presentations

APA Formatting

Abstract apa formatting , abstract .

Begin the abstract on a new page 

Identify it with the running head and page number 2

Label "Abstract" should appear in upper and lower case letters 

  • Centered 
  • At top of the abstract 

Abstract itself is double spaced paragraph without paragraph indentation 

Times Roman typeface 

1-inch margins 

You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type  Keywords:  (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.

Annotated Bibliography APA Formatting 

Annotated  Bibliography includes: 

The bibliographic information of the source 

  • APA Format 

The annotation follows the citation on the next line. 

The annotation

  • The length can vary from a couple of sentences to a page.
  • The length will depend on the purpose. 

Double-space

What is an Abstract & an Annotated Bibliography?

A brief summary of the research contents  Provides quick information about the topic including problem, methodology, participants (if any),  findings, and conclusion.   Qualities of a good abstract:

  • Accurate 
  • Non-evaluative 
  • Active Voice 
  • Present verb tense to describe conclusions 
  • Past verb tense to describe specific variables manipulates or outcomes measures
  • Concise 

Annotated Bibliography 

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/ or evaluation of each other sources. Depending on the assignment, your annotation may do one or more of the following:

  • Assess 

Annotated bibliographies are useful when organizing sources for research projects. 

an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

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What is an annotated bibliography?

Annotation vs abstract, choosing a citation style, help with annotated bibliography, annotated bibliography guide in the library, webster university's writing center.

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An annotated bibliography is a list of cited sources from books, articles, documents, or websites. Some annotated bibliography summarize a source and some evaluate or assess a source. Your professor will specify the type and citation style of annotated bibliography they would like.

Sample of an Annotated Bibliography

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 6th edition, 2010) for the journal citation:

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.  American Sociological Review,   51 , 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 8th edition, 2016) for the journal citation:

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults."  American Sociological Review,  vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

The content in this box was created by 

Olin Library Reference Research & Learning Services Cornell University Library Ithaca, NY, USA

And is used with permission.

An abstract is a descriptive summary of the content offered of a main ideas offered of a book, article, document, or other work. An annotation is often a descriptive and critical summary of the main ideas added after a citation of the analyzed source. The annotation may describe the author's view point and evaluates the source's authority, clarity, and value.

Ask your professor which citation style is preferred for the annotated bibliography. Research guides for APA, MLA, and Chicago citation styles are noted below.

  • APA Style Guide
  • Chicago / Turabian Style
  • Purdue OWL - Annotated bibliographies Annotated bibliography information from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL)

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Literature Reviews

  • General overview of Literature Reviews
  • What should a Literature Review include?
  • Examples of Literature Reviews
  • Research - Getting Started

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an essential element of any proposal and academic article; it lays the foundation of your study while also giving readers an insight into the topic of your paper.

Why is it important for papers and proposals to have?

Well, a literature review is essential because it summarizes everything the reader needs to know to understand your paper, from the background to the importance of your study.

Here are a few other things literature reviews provide that elevate the validity of your paper:

  • Discover relationships between ideas or studies
  • Identify critical gaps in the research and ask further questions
  • Explain significance of your research
  • Critically review theory or methodology
  • Familiarize yourself with current knowledge in the subject area
  • Provide an overview of the research already performed in the subject area

Literature reviews help researchers and scholars justify, explain, and support their papers argument through:

  • Giving a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations
  • Tracing the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates,
  • Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or
  • Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date

Given this, the key elements of a literature review are to:

  • Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied
  • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature

When and where do you use a literature review?

Literature reviews are the transition from the introduction of your paper to the methodology section, it is the only place where a literature review can make sense while maintaining the flow of the paper or proposal. 

  • Introductions go over the paper's purpose as well as the concept of your project, introducing the reader to the stance you plan on taking. 
  • A methodology focuses solely on the design of your project and how you plan to or have gone about your study.

Literature reviews are a combo of those two aspects, since they discuss relevant articles to help justify your paper's purpose, but usually by using the methodologies of other papers to do so. For your paper to flow well, a literature review needs to happen right after the introduction and before your paper's methodology.

Common Myths about Literature Reviews

You have to read everything related to the topic.

It is a common misconception among those writing a literature review for the first time that you must have read everything available on the theme. In reality, you have to pick the most relevant sources about your topic and only focus on them. 

You must include all the data you have read.

While it is easy to believe that you must summarize all the information available on a particular topic in your paper's literature review section, you only need to focus on the relevant articles again. And how the data from the articles help support and explain the purpose of your project and the methodology design. 

All the sources must be read till the end to be  understood.

Another widely believed myth is that you have to read a source from top to bottom to understand it. But this is not the truth here. If the only aspect of an article that supports your project idea is the methodology or the results, then only read those sections. You only need to focus on what aspects of the article you are reading will help support and explain your research project to others. Literature reviews are quick summaries of the relevant literature that is already out there. Whether it's to help explain why you went with a specific research design or to help show that your project will bridge a gap in the literature. You don't need to know or include everything in a literature review, just the relevant aspects that will support your project. 

Bibliographies and Literature reviews are the same.

A bibliography is not the same as a literature review. While a literature review discusses how you conducted your research and how your work fits into the overall body of established research in your field, an annotated bibliography simply explains how each source you used is relevant to your work.

Literature Review vs. Bibliography

  • Literature Review
  • Bibliography

 A literature review similar to a bibliography, will consist of simply a summary of key sources and articles. Unlike a bibliography a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. 

Types of Literature Reviews

Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research (educational reform; immigration control), argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and essential form of discourse. 

Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, or phenomenon emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.

Methodological Review A review only sometimes focuses on what someone said in their findings, but how they came about saying what they say, which is their analysis method. Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i.e., those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches, and data collection and analysis techniques], how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues you should be aware of and consider as you study.

There are more types of literature reviews one can apply to their paper, but these are the most common ones used in research papers and proposals.

A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work. It accompanies just about every type of academic writing, like essays, research papers, and reports. You might also find a brief, less formal bibliography at the end of a journalistic piece, presentation, or video when the author feels it’s necessary to cite their sources. In nearly all academic instances, a bibliography is required. Not including a bibliography (or including an incomplete, incorrect, or falsified bibliography) can be considered an act of plagiarism, which can lead to a failing grade, being dropped from your course or program, and even being suspended or expelled from your school. 

Types of Bibliographies

Analytical bibliography

An analytical bibliography documents a work’s journey from manuscript to published book or article. This type of bibliography includes the physical characteristics of each cited source, like each work’s number of pages, type of binding used, and illustrations. 

Annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes annotations, which are short notes explaining why the author chose each of the sources. Generally a few sentences long, these notes might summarize or reflect on the source. 

Enumerative bibliography

An enumerative bibliography is the most basic type of bibliography. It’s a list of sources used to conduct research, often ordered according to specific characteristics, like alphabetically by authors’ last names or grouped according to topic or language. 

There are more types of bibliographies one can apply to their paper, but these are the most common ones used in research papers and proposals.

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IMAGES

  1. MLA Annotated Bibliography Examples and Writing Guide

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  2. 3 Ways to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  3. MLA Annotated Bibliography Examples and Writing Guide

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  4. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  5. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

  6. Sample Annotated Bibliography Free Download

    an annotated bibliography can be written prior to writing a research paper

VIDEO

  1. WRITING AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

  2. Annotated Bibliography Video Presentation

  3. Introduction to the Annotated Bibliography

  4. Writing an Annotated Bibliography MLA and APA 2023

  5. Annotated Bibliography

  6. Writing the Introduction to Your Annotated Bibliography

COMMENTS

  1. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that includes a short descriptive text (an annotation) for each source. It may be assigned as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment to gather and read relevant sources on a topic.

  2. Annotated Bibliographies

    To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully.

  3. How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography

    Annotated Bibliography - How to Write a Research Paper - Research Guides at University of Mary How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography What is an Annotated Bibliography? This video is private UMary Writing Center Would you like some expert assistance with writing and editing your paper?

  4. LibGuides: Research Strategies: Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic. Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier.

  5. The Annotated Bibliography

    The Process Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research. First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.

  6. The Writing Center

    An annotated bibliography is a list of sources on a single topic, with an annotation provided for each source. An annotation is a one or two paragraph summary and/or analysis of an article, book, or other source. Generally, the first paragraph of the annotation provides a summary of the source in direct, clear terms.

  7. Writing Annotations

    (Renfrow & Teuton, 2008) Informative Style - Similar to an abstract, this style focuses on the summarizing the source. The annotation should identify the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source. Example: Plester, B., Wood, C, & Bell, V. (2008).

  8. Home

    Annotated bibliographies are completed before a paper is written They can be stand-along assignments They can be used as a reference tool as a person works on their paper Annotations vs. Abstracts

  9. Annotated Bibliographies

    A good annotated bibliography: encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas. proves you have read and understand your sources. establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.

  10. Annotated Bibliography

    What should it do? You may have done a bibliography where you were asked to list several sources that you used for a research project. An annotated bibliography is very similar to that except that each listed source is accompanied by a short summary and evaluation of that source.

  11. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents that follows the appropriate style format for the discipline (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc). Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 word) descriptive and evaluative paragraph -- the annotation.

  12. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100-200 words in length. Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  13. How to Write a Research Paper: Annotated Bibliographies

    Explore the subject for further research. The annotated bibliography may be selective or comprehensive in its coverage. A selective annotated bibliography includes just those items that are best for the topic while an exhaustive annotated bibliography attempts to identify all that is available on a subject. --Skidmore College. Lucy Scribner ...

  14. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography, With Examples

    If the annotation spans more than one paragraph, use an extra indentation of 0.5 inches (2.5 inches from the edge of the page) for the first line of any paragraphs after the first. Title the page either "Annotated Bibliography" or "Annotated List of Works Cited.".

  15. 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 ...

  16. Format Your Paper & Cite Your Sources

    Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information.

  17. Annotated Bibliography Samples

    Overview Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

  18. 7.6 Writing an Annotated Bibliography

    An annotation often offers a summary of a source that you intend to use for a research project as well as some assessment of the source's relevance to your project or quality and credibility. There are two key components for each source: the citation and the annotation. The Annotated Bibliography Samples page [1] on the Purdue OWL offers ...

  19. Write Annotated Bibliographies

    Commentary on how the item may be useful for your research. An annotated bibliography, like any list of works cited, should be presented in alphabetical order by author's last name. Writing an annotated helps you kick-start research for a paper by helping you get a handle on what research is available to support your own thesis.

  20. Writing an Annotated Bibliography for a Paper

    01 of 03 Annotated Bibliography Features The annotated bibliography gives your readers a glimpse of the work a professional researcher would do. Every published article provides statements about prior research on the topic at hand. A teacher may require that you write an annotated bibliography as the first step of a big research assignment.

  21. Annotated Bibliography Examples for MLA & APA

    A bibliography is a complete list of the sources that were used to complete a research paper or project.. Depending on the style guide you follow, you may also see this called a Works Cited (also called an MLA bibliography) or Reference List (APA format).Each listed source, or citation, shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other details that serve to credit the ...

  22. Subject Guides: How to Cite: Annotated Bibliographies

    Annotated bibliographies are lists of resources that include an evaluative summary of each resource. They are usually written prior to writing a research paper that uses the annotated sources. More than just a summary of the article, annotated bibliographies give you a chance to critique the resources you're finding.

  23. LibGuides: Writing: Abstract & Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/ or evaluation of each other sources. Depending on the assignment, your annotation may do one or more of the following: Summarize; Assess ; Reflect; Annotated bibliographies are useful when organizing ...

  24. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of cited sources from books, articles, documents, or websites. ... Ask your professor which citation style is preferred for the annotated bibliography. Research guides for APA, MLA, and Chicago citation styles are noted below. ... Submit a paper online to the Writing Center for review; Select Writing ...

  25. General overview of Literature Reviews

    Annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes annotations, which are short notes explaining why the author chose each of the sources. Generally a few sentences long, these notes might summarize or reflect on the source. Enumerative bibliography. An enumerative bibliography is the most basic type of bibliography.