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Definition of bibliography

Examples of bibliography in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bibliography.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

probably from New Latin bibliographia , from Greek, the copying of books, from bibli- + -graphia -graphy

1689, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Articles Related to bibliography

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Cite this Entry

“Bibliography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bibliography. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of bibliography, more from merriam-webster on bibliography.

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bibliography

Nglish: Translation of bibliography for Spanish Speakers

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  • Citation Styles

What citation style to use for science [Updated 2023]

Top citation styles used in science

What citation style should you use for a science paper? In this post, we explore the most frequently used citation styles for science. We cover APA, IEEE, ACS, and others and provide examples of each style.

APA is the number one citation style used in science

APA (American Psychological Association) style is a citation format used in the social sciences, education, and engineering, as well as in the sciences. APA consists of two elements: in-text citations and a reference list.

It uses an author-date system, in which the author’s last name and year of publication are put in parentheses (e.g. Smith 2003). These parenthetical citations refer the reader to a list at the end of the paper, which includes information about each source.

APA style resources

🌐 Official APA style guidelines

🗂 APA style guide

📝 APA citation generator

APA style examples

Here is an example of an in-text citation in APA style:

In recent years, much debate has been stirred regarding volcanic soil (Avşar et al., 2018) .

Here is a bibliography entry in APA style:

Avşar, E., Ulusay, R., Aydan, Ö., & Mutlutürk, M . ( 2015 ). On the Difficulties of Geotechnical Sampling and practical Estimates of the Strength of a weakly bonded Volcanic Soil . Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment , 74 ( 4 ), 1375–1394 . https://doi.org/10.1007/s10064-014-0710-9

Chicago is the number two citation style used in science

Chicago style is another form of citation used for science papers and journals. It has two formats: a notes and bibliography system and an author-date system.

The notes and bibliography system is mostly used for the humanities, whereas the author-date system is used in science and business. The latter uses in-text citations formed by the author's last name and date of publication. A bibliography at the end of the paper lists the full information for all references.

Chicago style resources

🌐 Official Chicago style guidelines

🗂 Chicago style guide

📝 Chicago citation generator

Chicago style examples

Here is an in-text citation in Chicago style:

However, a research proved this theory right (Hofman and Rick 2018, 65-115) .

Here is a bibliography entry in Chicago style:

Hofman, Courtney A., and Torben C. Rick . “ Ancient Biological Invasions and Island Ecosystems: Tracking Translocations of Wild Plants and Animals .” Journal of Archaeological Research 26 , no. 1 ( 2018 ): 65–115 . doi.org/10.1007/s10814-017-9105-3 .

CSE is the number three citation style used in science

CSE style is the standard format used in the physical and life sciences. This style features three types of citation systems: citation-sequence, name-year, and citation-name.

• Name-Year : In-text citations of this type feature the author’s last name and the year of publication in brackets. A bibliography at the end lists all references in full.

• Citation-Sequence : Every source is assigned a superscript number that is used as an in-text reference. The bibliography at the end lists all numbers with their references in the order in which they appeared in the text.

• Citation-Name : The reference list is organized alphabetically by authors’ last names; each name is assigned a number which can be placed in superscript as an in-text reference.

CSE style resources

🌐 Official CSE style guidelines

📝 CSE citation generator

CSE style examples

Here is an example of an in-text citation in CSE name-year style:

Therefore, the translocation of wild plants was tracked (Hofman and Rick 2018) .

Here is a bibliography entry in CSE name-year style:

Hofman CA, Rick TC. 2018. Ancient Biological Invasions and Island Ecosystems: Tracking Translocations of Wild Plants and Animals. J. Archaeol. [accessed 2019 Mar 11]; 26(1): 65–11. doi.org/10.1007/s10814-017-9105-3.

AIP is the number four citation style used in science

AIP style, as its title suggests, is commonly applied in physics and astronomy papers. This style has a numbered citation system , which uses superscript numbers to show in-text citations. These numbers correspond to a list of sources at the end of the paper.

AIP style resources

🌐 Official AIP style guidelines

🗂 AIP style guide

📝 AIP citation generator

AIP style examples

Here is an in-text citation in AIP style:

A similar study was carried out in 2015 ¹ .

Here is a bibliography entry in AIP style:

¹ H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, Sears & Zemansky's University Physics (Addison-Wesley, San Francisco, CA, 2015) p. 160

ACS is the number five citation style used in science

ACS style is the standard citation style for chemistry. This style uses both numeric and author-date citations systems. The numbered in-text citations can have either a superscript number or a number in italics. Full references for each source are listed at the end of the paper.

ACS style resources

🌐 Official ACS style guidelines

🗂 ACS style guide

📝 ACS citation generator

ACS style examples

Here is an in-text citation in ACS author-date style:

The opposing side was given first (Brown et al., 2017) .

Here is a bibliography entry in ACS author-date style:

Brown, T.E.; LeMay H.E.; Bursten, B.E.; Murphy, C.; Woodward, P.; Stoltzfus M.E. Chemistry: The Central Science in SI Units . Pearson: New York, 2017.

IEEE is the number six citation style used in science

IEEE style is used for engineering and science papers. This style uses a numeric, in-text citation format, with a number in square brackets. This number corresponds to a reference list entry at the end of the paper.

IEEE style resources

🌐 Official IEEE style guidelines

🗂 IEEE style guide

📝 IEEE citation generator

IEEE style examples

Here is an example of an in-text citation in IEEE style:

As seen in a multi-camera study [1] ...

Here is a bibliography entry in IEEE style:

[1] E. Nuger and B. Benhabib, “Multi-Camera Active-Vision for Markerless Shape Recovery of Unknown Deforming Objects,” J. Intell. Rob. Syst. , vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 223–264, Oct. 2018.

What Is a Bibliography?

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A bibliography is a list of books, scholarly  articles , speeches, private records, diaries, interviews, laws, letters, websites, and other sources you use when researching a topic and writing a paper. The bibliography appears at the end.

The main purpose of a bibliography entry is to give credit to authors whose work you've consulted in your research. It also makes it easy for a reader to find out more about your topic by delving into the research that you used to write your paper. In the academic world, papers aren't written in a vacuum; academic journals are the way new research on a topic circulates and previous work is built upon.

Bibliography entries must be written in a very specific format, but that format will depend on the particular style of writing you follow. Your teacher or publisher will tell you which style to use, and for most academic papers it will be either MLA , American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago (author-date citations or footnotes/endnotes format), or Turabian style .

The bibliography is sometimes also called the references, works cited, or works consulted page.

Components of a Bibliography Entry

Bibliography entries will compile:

  • Authors and/or editors (and translator, if applicable)
  • Title of your source (as well as edition, volume, and the book title if your source is a chapter or article in a multi-author book with an editor)
  • Publication information (the city, state, name of the publisher, date published, page numbers consulted, and URL or DOI, if applicable)
  • Access date, in the case of online sources (check with the style guide at the beginning of your research as to whether you need to track this information)

Order and Formatting

Your entries should be listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the first author. If you are using two publications that are written by the same author, the order and format will depend on the style guide.

In MLA, Chicago, and Turabian style, you should list the duplicate-author entries in alphabetical order according to the title of the work. The author's name is written as normal for his or her first entry, but for the second entry, you will replace the author's name with three long dashes. 

In APA style, you list the duplicate-author entries in chronological order of publication, placing the earliest first. The name of the author is used for all entries.

For works with more than one author, styles vary as to whether you invert the name of any authors after the first. Whether you use title casing or sentence-style casing on titles of sources, and whether you separate elements with commas or periods also varies among different style guides. Consult the guide's manual for more detailed information.

Bibliography entries are usually formatted using a hanging indent. This means that the first line of each citation is not indented, but subsequent lines of each citation are indented. Check with your instructor or publication to see if this format is required, and look up information in your word processor's help program if you do not know how to create a hanging indent with it.

Chicago's Bibliography vs. Reference System

Chicago has two different ways of citing works consulted: using a bibliography or a references page. Use of a bibliography or a references page depends on whether you're using author-date parenthetical citations in the paper or footnotes/endnotes. If you're using parenthetical citations, then you'll follow the references page formatting. If you're using footnotes or endnotes, you'll use a bibliography. The difference in the formatting of entries between the two systems is the location of the date of the cited publication. In a bibliography, it goes at the end of an entry. In a references list in the author-date style, it goes right after the author's name, similar to APA style.

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What is a Bibliography?

What is an annotated bibliography, introduction to the annotated bibliography.

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  • the authors' names
  • the titles of the works
  • the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources
  • the dates your copies were published
  • the page numbers of your sources (if they are part of multi-source volumes)

Ok, so what's an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is the same as a bibliography with one important difference: in an annotated bibliography, the bibliographic information is followed by a brief description of the content, quality, and usefulness of the source. For more, see the section at the bottom of this page.

What are Footnotes?

Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of a page. They cite references or comment on a designated part of the text above it. For example, say you want to add an interesting comment to a sentence you have written, but the comment is not directly related to the argument of your paragraph. In this case, you could add the symbol for a footnote. Then, at the bottom of the page you could reprint the symbol and insert your comment. Here is an example:

This is an illustration of a footnote. 1 The number “1” at the end of the previous sentence corresponds with the note below. See how it fits in the body of the text? 1 At the bottom of the page you can insert your comments about the sentence preceding the footnote.

When your reader comes across the footnote in the main text of your paper, he or she could look down at your comments right away, or else continue reading the paragraph and read your comments at the end. Because this makes it convenient for your reader, most citation styles require that you use either footnotes or endnotes in your paper. Some, however, allow you to make parenthetical references (author, date) in the body of your work.

Footnotes are not just for interesting comments, however. Sometimes they simply refer to relevant sources -- they let your reader know where certain material came from, or where they can look for other sources on the subject. To decide whether you should cite your sources in footnotes or in the body of your paper, you should ask your instructor or see our section on citation styles.

Where does the little footnote mark go?

Whenever possible, put the footnote at the end of a sentence, immediately following the period or whatever punctuation mark completes that sentence. Skip two spaces after the footnote before you begin the next sentence. If you must include the footnote in the middle of a sentence for the sake of clarity, or because the sentence has more than one footnote (try to avoid this!), try to put it at the end of the most relevant phrase, after a comma or other punctuation mark. Otherwise, put it right at the end of the most relevant word. If the footnote is not at the end of a sentence, skip only one space after it.

What's the difference between Footnotes and Endnotes?

The only real difference is placement -- footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes all appear at the end of your document. If you want your reader to read your notes right away, footnotes are more likely to get your reader's attention. Endnotes, on the other hand, are less intrusive and will not interrupt the flow of your paper.

If I cite sources in the Footnotes (or Endnotes), how's that different from a Bibliography?

Sometimes you may be asked to include these -- especially if you have used a parenthetical style of citation. A "works cited" page is a list of all the works from which you have borrowed material. Your reader may find this more convenient than footnotes or endnotes because he or she will not have to wade through all of the comments and other information in order to see the sources from which you drew your material. A "works consulted" page is a complement to a "works cited" page, listing all of the works you used, whether they were useful or not.

Isn't a "works consulted" page the same as a "bibliography," then?

Well, yes. The title is different because "works consulted" pages are meant to complement "works cited" pages, and bibliographies may list other relevant sources in addition to those mentioned in footnotes or endnotes. Choosing to title your bibliography "Works Consulted" or "Selected Bibliography" may help specify the relevance of the sources listed.

This information has been freely provided by plagiarism.org and can be reproduced without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited. 

How Do I Cite Sources? (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2009, from http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_how_do_i_cite_sources.html

The Importance of an Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography is a collection of annotated citations. These annotations contain your executive notes on a source. Use the annotated bibliography to help remind you of later of the important parts of an article or book. Putting the effort into making good notes will pay dividends when it comes to writing a paper!

Good Summary

Being an executive summary, the annotated citation should be fairly brief, usually no more than one page, double spaced.

  • Focus on summarizing the source in your own words.
  • Avoid direct quotations from the source, at least those longer than a few words. However, if you do quote, remember to use quotation marks. You don't want to forget later on what is your own summary and what is a direct quotation!
  • If an author uses a particular term or phrase that is important to the article, use that phrase within quotation marks. Remember that whenever you quote, you must explain the meaning and context of the quoted word or text. 

Common Elements of an Annotated Citation

  • Summary of an Article or Book's thesis or most important points (Usually two to four sentences)
  • Summary of a source's methodological approach. That is, what is the source? How does it go about proving its point(s)? Is it mostly opinion based? If it is a scholarly source, describe the research method (study, etc.) that the author used. (Usually two to five sentences)
  • Your own notes and observations on the source beyond the summary. Include your initial analysis here. For example, how will you use this source? Perhaps you would write something like, "I will use this source to support my point about . . . "
  • Formatting Annotated Bibliographies This guide from Purdue OWL provides examples of an annotated citation in MLA and APA formats.


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How to Write a Bibliography, With Examples

Lindsay Kramer

You spent the past six hours grinding out your latest paper, but finally, it’s finished. It’s late, you’re exhausted, and all you want to do is click “Submit Assignment” and then get some sleep. 

Not so fast. If your paper doesn’t have a properly formatted bibliography, it’s not finished. 

A bibliography is a list of all the sources you consulted while writing your paper. Every book, article, and even video you used to gather information for your paper needs to be cited in your bibliography so your instructor (and any others reading your work) can trace the facts, statistics, and insights back to their original sources. 

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What is the purpose of a bibliography? 

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. 

A bibliography accomplishes a few things. These include:

  • Showing your instructor that you conducted the necessary research for your assignment 
  • Crediting your sources’ authors for the research they conducted
  • Making it easy for anybody who reads your work to find the sources you used and conduct their own research on the same or a similar topic

Additionally, future historians consulting your writing can use your bibliography to identify primary and secondary sources in your research field. Documenting the course information from its original source through later academic works can help researchers understand how that information has been cited and interpreted over time. It can also help them review the information in the face of competing—and possibly contradictory or revisionary—data. 

In nearly all cases, a bibliography is found at the end of a book or paper. 

What are the different kinds of bibliographies?

Different types of academic works call for different types of bibliographies. For example, your computer science professor might require you to submit an annotated bibliography along with your paper because this type of bibliography explains the why behind each source you chose to consult.

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. 

An annotated 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. 

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. 

Specific types of enumerative bibliographies used for research works include:

National bibliography

A national bibliography groups sources published in a specific region or nation. In many cases, these bibliographies also group works according to the time period during which they were published. 

Personal bibliography

A personal bibliography lists multiple works by the same individual author or group of authors. Often, personal bibliographies include works that would be difficult to find elsewhere, like unpublished works. 

Corporate bibliography

In a corporate bibliography, the sources are grouped according to their relation to a specific organization. The sources can be about an organization, published by that organization, or owned by that organization. 

Subject bibliography

Subject bibliographies group works according to the subjects they cover. Generally, these bibliographies list primary and secondary sources, whereas other types of enumerative bibliographies, like personal bibliographies, might not. 

Other types of bibliographies

In some cases, it makes sense to use a bibliography format other than those listed here. These include:

Single-author bibliography

This type of bibliography lists works by a single author. With certain assignments, like an essay comparing two of an author’s books, your bibliography is a single-author bibliography by default. In this case, you can choose how to order the sources, such as by publication date or alphabetically by title. 

Selected bibliography

A selected bibliography is a bibliography that only lists some of the sources you consulted. Usually, these are the most important sources for your work. You might write a selected bibliography if you consulted a variety of minor sources that you didn’t end up citing directly in your work. A selected bibliography may also be an annotated bibliography. 

How is a bibliography structured? 

Although each style guide has its own formatting rules for bibliographies, all bibliographies follow a similar structure. Key points to keep in mind when you’re structuring a bibliography include:

  • Every bibliography page has a header. Format this header according to the style guide you’re using.
  • Every bibliography has a title, such as “Works Cited,” “References,” or simply “Bibliography.”
  • Bibliographies are lists. List your sources alphabetically according to their authors’ last names or their titles—whichever is applicable according to the style guide you’re using. The exception is a single-author bibliography or one that groups sources according to a shared characteristic. 
  • Bibliographies are double-spaced.
  • Bibliographies should be in legible fonts, typically the same font as the papers they accompany.

As noted above, different kinds of assignments require different kinds of bibliographies. For example, you might write an analytical bibliography for your art history paper because this type of bibliography gives you space to discuss how the construction methods used for your sources inform their content and vice-versa. If you aren’t sure which kind of bibliography to write, ask your instructor. 

How do you write a bibliography?

The term “bibliography” is a catch-all for any list of sources cited at the end of an academic work. Certain style guides use different terminology to refer to bibliographies. For example, MLA format refers to a paper’s bibliography as its Works Cited page. APA refers to it as the References page. No matter which style guide you’re using, the process for writing a bibliography is generally the same. The primary difference between the different style guides is how the bibliography is formatted. 

The first step in writing a bibliography is organizing all the relevant information about the sources you used in your research. Relevant information about a source can vary according to the type of media it is, the type of bibliography you’re writing, and your style guide. Determine which information you need to include about each source by consulting the style guide you’re using. If you aren’t sure what to include, or if you’re not sure which style guide to use, ask your instructor. 

The next step is to format your sources according to the style guide you’re using. MLA , APA , and the Chicago Manual of Style are three of the most commonly used style guides in academic writing. 

MLA Works Cited page

In MLA format , the bibliography is known as the Works Cited page. MLA is typically used for writing in the humanities, like English and History. Because of this, it includes guidelines for citing sources like plays, videos , and works of visual art —sources you’d find yourself consulting for these courses, but probably not in your science and business courses.

In MLA format, books are cited like this:

If the cited book was published prior to 1900, is from a publisher with offices in multiple countries, or is from a publisher that is largely unknown in the US, include the book’s city of publication. Otherwise, this can be left out. 

Scholarly articles are cited in this format: 

  • Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.

APA References page

In APA format —the format typically used in psychology, nursing, business, and the social sciences—the bibliography page is titled References. This format includes citation instructions for technical papers and data-heavy research, the types of sources you’re likely to consult for academic writing in these fields. 

In APA format, books are cited like this:

Digital object identifier (DOI).

(issue  number) , article’s page range (i.e., 10-15). URL.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) permits authors to format bibliographies in two different ways: the notes and bibliography system and the author-date system. The former is generally used in the humanities, whereas the latter is usually used in the sciences and social sciences. 

Both systems include guidelines for citations on a paper’s body pages as well as a bibliographic list that follows the paper. This list is titled Bibliography.

In CMoS, books are cited like this:


number  (year published): page numbers of the article (i.e., 10-15).

Bibliography FAQs 

What is a bibliography.

A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work.

What are the different kinds of bibliographies? 

There are many different kinds of bibliographies. These include:

  • Enumerative bibliographies
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Analytical bibliographies

How do you write a bibliography for different style guides?

Each style guide publishes its bibliography guidelines online. Locate the guidelines for the style guide you’re following ( Chicago Manual of Style , MLA , APA ), and using the examples provided, format and list the sources for your work. 

bibliography definition for science

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a complete or selective list of works compiled upon some common principle, as authorship, subject, place of publication, or printer.

a list of source materials that are used or consulted in the preparation of a work or that are referred to in the text.

a branch of library science dealing with the history, physical description, comparison, and classification of books and other works.

Origin of bibliography

Other words from bibliography.

  • bib·li·o·graph·ic [bib-lee- uh - graf -ik], /ˌbɪb li əˈgræf ɪk/, bib·li·o·graph·i·cal, adjective
  • bib·li·o·graph·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • min·i·bib·li·og·ra·phy, noun, plural min·i·bib·li·og·ra·phies.

Words Nearby bibliography

  • bibliograph
  • bibliographer
  • bibliographic control
  • bibliographic utility
  • biblioklept
  • bibliolatry
  • bibliomancy
  • bibliomania

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use bibliography in a sentence

He’s toyed with Collatz for about fifty years and become keeper of the knowledge, compiling annotated bibliographies and editing a book on the subject, “The Ultimate Challenge.”

Some readers might prefer more background science for each question — for a book that aims to crush pseudoscience, a bibliography or at least footnotes would have been useful.

Kalb makes the disclaimer in his preface that “memoirs, by definition, are not works of history — no footnotes, no bibliography .”

Otlet began modestly in the 1890s, creating a bibliography of sociological literature.

Lop off the endnotes and bibliography , and The Measure of Manhattan is barely 300 pages.

Tyler does not provide us with a bibliography , although his extensive notes include many books on Israel and its neighbors.

For full bibliography (to 1904) see Ulysse Chevalier, Rpertoire des sources hist.

Punctuation has been normalized for the stage directions and the play listings in the bibliography .

Within six months, if you're not sandbagged or jailed on fake libel suits, you'll have a unique bibliography of swindles.

There is a very inadequate bibliography in the Introduction.

His ample bibliography leaves no point necessary for elucidation untouched.

British Dictionary definitions for bibliography

/ ( ˌbɪblɪˈɒɡrəfɪ ) /

a list of books or other material on a subject

a list of sources used in the preparation of a book, thesis, etc

a list of the works of a particular author or publisher

the study of the history, classification, etc, of literary material

a work on this subject

Derived forms of bibliography

  • bibliographer , noun
  • bibliographic ( ˌbɪblɪəʊˈɡræfɪk ) or bibliographical , adjective
  • bibliographically , adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for bibliography

A list of the written sources of information on a subject. Bibliographies generally appear as a list at the end of a book or article. They may show what works the author used in writing the article or book, or they may list works that a reader might find useful.

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A  bibliography  is a list of citations to books, journal articles, and other works.

An  annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, journal articles, and other works accompanied by descriptive and/or critical paragraph length summaries.

Steps for Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an annotated bibliography can be tedious, but it doesn't have to be painful!  As you begin your assignment, use these guidelines to help make the process easier.

Begin by formatting your citation. Pick a format and cite the source. Ask a librarian if you need help!

Next, begin the annotation part by briefly explaining what the resources is about. For example, what is the article about? Keep it to 2-4 sentences.  

Now is the tricky part. You need to assess and reflect upon the resource. This will be the longest part of your annotation. Focus on answering these questions in your writeup:

  • What information does this source contribute to your research question? 
  • How does the source relate to other sources in your bibliography?
  • Does the source appear to be biased? If so, how is it biased?
  • If it's an article, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the article?
  • How does the source fit into your research paper? Is it useful? Why is it useful?

Foundation of Annotated Bibliography

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The building blocks and structure of an annotated bibliography is: Bibliographic detail (citation), brief overview of content, critical analysis of text (the bulk of your annotation), and the statement of relevance or usefulness of the article to your project.

Creating Bibliographies

Bibliographies are usually created using a certain style or format. Typical formats are  APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style.  For more information about citing sources, see the following guides:

  • APA Style (7th ed.)
  • MLA Style (8th ed.)
  • Chicago Style: Notes and Bibliography (17th ed.)
  • Chicago Style: Author-Date (17th ed.)
  • Bluebook & Legal Citations

The following abstract is written in APA style:

Mallett, C., & Hanrahan, S. (2004). Elite athletes: Why does the 'fire' burn so brightly? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5 (2), 183-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00043-2

Mallett and Hanrahan attempted to use Self Determination Theory (STD), which identifies the social and contextual conditions that create a motivational climate, to discover what motivates elite athletes to perform at such a high level. Athletes usually experience either intrinsic or extrinsic motivational factors to inspire them to demonstrate their competence at an elite level. The authors conducted qualitative interviews with 11 track and field athletes (who had received medals in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games) to gather data on motivational forces. Data from these interviews indicated that all of the elite athletes were mainly intrinsically motivated. They were highly driven by personal goals; had strong self belief; and, their sport was central to their lives. From the findings of this study, Mallett and Hanrahan concluded that when elite athletes accomplished their goals, it enhanced their perception of their competence, which positively influenced self determined motivation. Although the study supported earlier research in the area, the authors acknowledged that further studies on motivational influences are necessary to provide more substantial documentation. 

(*Written by Caroline Thompson, Librarian, UWF Libraries)

The following abstract is written in MLA style:

Davis, Lloyd S., and Martin Renner. Penguins . Yale University Press, 2003.

This book is concerned with the fascinating family of penguins. Davis (Univ. of Otago, New Zealand) and Renner (independent scholar) deal with the historical approach to penguins and their relationship to other birds and also to each other. The authors consider the different species of penguins and how they forage and live in a harsh world. Then they deal with mate selection and courtship, breeding places, parental care, and egg and chick mortality. Finally they discuss molt and migration and the major problem of conservation in a changing world. Throughout this work there are figures, tables, and some nice color plates. The book includes a substantial list of references. Recommended. General readers; lower-level undergraduates and above. 

(*Written for  CHOICE  by C. J. Pollard, emeritus, Los Angeles Unified School District , Sept. 2004.)

The following abstract is written in the Chicago: Notes-Bibliography (or Turabian) style:

Johnston, Erle E., Jr.  Mississippi’s Defiant Years, 1953-1973: An Interpretive Documentary With Personal Experiences . Forest, MS: Lake Harbor Publishers: 1990.  

Mississippi’s Defiant Years , written for a general audience, is Erle Johnston’s personal and highly subjective account of the state’s struggle to retain the tradition of segregation. Johnston, who served as the Director of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission in the 1960s, made the claim in the early 1990s that he turned the Commission into a trouble-shooting liaison between the white power structure and those involved in civil rights activities. While there are numerous sources that contradict his claim (see Paul Hendrickson’s “Unsealing Mississippi’s Past,”  The Washington Post Magazine  9 [May 1990]: 8-25), this book serves as a significant source for studying the change in Johnston’s thoughts and attitudes about his role in the defiant years. Unlike the multitude of sources written from a pro-movement perspective, this work provides an interesting account from the opposing viewpoint - that of white resistance.

(*Written by Melissa Gonzalez, Librarian, UWF Libraries)

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Citation Styles Guide | Examples for All Major Styles

Published on June 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 7, 2022.

A citation style is a set of guidelines on how to cite sources in your academic writing . You always need a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize a source to avoid plagiarism . How you present these citations depends on the style you follow. Scribbr’s citation generator can help!

Different styles are set by different universities, academic associations, and publishers, often published in an official handbook with in-depth instructions and examples.

There are many different citation styles, but they typically use one of three basic approaches: parenthetical citations , numerical citations, or note citations.

Parenthetical citations

  • Chicago (Turabian) author-date

CSE name-year

Numerical citations

CSE citation-name or citation-sequence

Note citations

  • Chicago (Turabian) notes and bibliography

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Table of contents

Types of citation: parenthetical, note, numerical, which citation style should i use, parenthetical citation styles, numerical citation styles, note citation styles, frequently asked questions about citation styles.

The clearest identifying characteristic of any citation style is how the citations in the text are presented. There are three main approaches:

  • Parenthetical citations: You include identifying details of the source in parentheses in the text—usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if relevant ( author-date ). Sometimes the publication date is omitted ( author-page ).
  • Numerical citations: You include a number in brackets or in superscript, which corresponds to an entry in your numbered reference list.
  • Note citations: You include a full citation in a footnote or endnote, which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.

Citation styles also differ in terms of how you format the reference list or bibliography entries themselves (e.g., capitalization, order of information, use of italics). And many style guides also provide guidance on more general issues like text formatting, punctuation, and numbers.

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bibliography definition for science

In most cases, your university, department, or instructor will tell you which citation style you need to follow in your writing. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult your institution’s guidelines or ask someone. If you’re submitting to a journal, they will usually require a specific style.

Sometimes, the choice of citation style may be left up to you. In those cases, you can base your decision on which citation styles are commonly used in your field. Try reading other articles from your discipline to see how they cite their sources, or consult the table below.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) recommends citing your sources using Chicago author-date style . AAA style doesn’t have its own separate rules. This style is used in the field of anthropology.

APA Style is defined by the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . It was designed for use in psychology, but today it’s widely used across various disciplines, especially in the social sciences.

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The citation style of the American Political Science Association (APSA) is used mainly in the field of political science.

The citation style of the American Sociological Association (ASA) is used primarily in the discipline of sociology.

Chicago author-date

Chicago author-date style is one of the two citation styles presented in the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). It’s used mainly in the sciences and social sciences.

The citation style of the Council of Science Editors (CSE) is used in various scientific disciplines. It includes multiple options for citing your sources, including the name-year system.

Harvard style is often used in the field of economics. It is also very widely used across disciplines in UK universities. There are various versions of Harvard style defined by different universities—it’s not a style with one definitive style guide.

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MLA style is the official style of the Modern Language Association, defined in the MLA Handbook (9th edition). It’s widely used across various humanities disciplines. Unlike most parenthetical citation styles, it’s author-page rather than author-date.

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The American Chemical Society (ACS) provides guidelines for a citation style using numbers in superscript or italics in the text, corresponding to entries in a numbered reference list at the end. It is used in chemistry.

The American Medical Association ( AMA ) provides guidelines for a numerical citation style using superscript numbers in the text, which correspond to entries in a numbered reference list. It is used in the field of medicine.

CSE style includes multiple options for citing your sources, including the citation-name and citation-sequence systems. Your references are listed alphabetically in the citation-name system; in the citation-sequence system, they appear in the order in which you cited them.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( IEEE ) provides guidelines for citing your sources with IEEE in-text citations that consist of numbers enclosed in brackets, corresponding to entries in a numbered reference list. This style is used in various engineering and IT disciplines.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) citation style is defined in Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition).

Vancouver style is also used in various medical disciplines. As with Harvard style, a lot of institutions and publications have their own versions of Vancouver—it doesn’t have one fixed style guide.

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the main style guide for legal citations in the US. It’s widely used in law, and also when legal materials need to be cited in other disciplines.

Chicago notes and bibliography

Chicago notes and bibliography is one of the two citation styles presented in the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). It’s used mainly in the humanities.

The Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities ( OSCOLA ) is the main legal citation style in the UK (similar to Bluebook for the US).

There are many different citation styles used across different academic disciplines, but they fall into three basic approaches to citation:

  • Parenthetical citations : Including identifying details of the source in parentheses —usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if available ( author-date ). The publication date is occasionally omitted ( author-page ).
  • Numerical citations: Including a number in brackets or superscript, corresponding to an entry in your numbered reference list.
  • Note citations: Including a full citation in a footnote or endnote , which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.

Check if your university or course guidelines specify which citation style to use. If the choice is left up to you, consider which style is most commonly used in your field.

  • APA Style is the most popular citation style, widely used in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • MLA style is the second most popular, used mainly in the humanities.
  • Chicago notes and bibliography style is also popular in the humanities, especially history.
  • Chicago author-date style tends to be used in the sciences.

Other more specialized styles exist for certain fields, such as Bluebook and OSCOLA for law.

The most important thing is to choose one style and use it consistently throughout your text.

A scientific citation style is a system of source citation that is used in scientific disciplines. Some commonly used scientific citation styles are:

  • Chicago author-date , CSE , and Harvard , used across various sciences
  • ACS , used in chemistry
  • AMA , NLM , and Vancouver , used in medicine and related disciplines
  • AAA , APA , and ASA , commonly used in the social sciences

APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.

Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.

MLA Style  is the second most used citation style (after APA ). It is mainly used by students and researchers in humanities fields such as literature, languages, and philosophy.

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Caulfield, J. (2022, November 07). Citation Styles Guide | Examples for All Major Styles. Scribbr. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/citation-styles/

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What is Bibliography?: Meaning, Types, and Importance

Md. Ashikuzzaman

A bibliography is a fundamental component of academic research and writing that serves as a comprehensive list of sources consulted and referenced in a particular work. It plays a crucial role in validating the credibility and reliability of the information presented by providing readers with the necessary information to locate and explore the cited sources. A well-constructed bibliography not only demonstrates the depth and breadth of research undertaken but also acknowledges the intellectual contributions of others, ensuring transparency and promoting the integrity of scholarly work. By including a bibliography, writers enable readers to delve further into the subject matter, engage in critical analysis, and build upon existing knowledge.

1.1 What is a Bibliography?

A bibliography is a compilation of sources that have been utilized in the process of researching and writing a piece of work. It serves as a comprehensive list of references, providing information about the various sources consulted, such as books, articles, websites, and other materials. The purpose of a bibliography is twofold: to give credit to the original authors or creators of the sources used and to allow readers to locate and access those sources for further study or verification. A well-crafted bibliography includes essential details about each source, including the author’s name, the title of the work, publication date, and publication information. By having a bibliography, writers demonstrate the extent of their research, provide a foundation for their arguments, and enhance the credibility and reliability of their work.

1.2 Types of Bibliography.

The bibliography is a multifaceted discipline encompassing different types, each designed to serve specific research purposes and requirements. These various types of bibliographies provide valuable tools for researchers, scholars, and readers to navigate the vast realm of literature and sources available. From comprehensive overviews to specialized focuses, the types of bibliographies offer distinct approaches to organizing, categorizing, and presenting information. Whether compiling an exhaustive list of sources, providing critical evaluations, or focusing on specific subjects or industries, these types of bibliographies play a vital role in facilitating the exploration, understanding, and dissemination of knowledge in diverse academic and intellectual domains.

As a discipline, a bibliography encompasses various types that cater to different research needs and contexts. The two main categories of bibliographies are

1. General bibliography, and 2. Special bibliography.

1.2.1. General Bibliography:

A general bibliography is a comprehensive compilation of sources covering a wide range of subjects, disciplines, and formats. It aims to provide a broad overview of published materials, encompassing books, articles, journals, websites, and other relevant resources. A general bibliography typically includes works from various authors, covering diverse topics and spanning different periods. It is a valuable tool for researchers, students, and readers seeking a comprehensive collection of literature within a specific field or across multiple disciplines. General bibliographies play a crucial role in guiding individuals in exploring a subject, facilitating the discovery of relevant sources, and establishing a foundation for further research and academic pursuits.

The general bibliography encompasses various subcategories that comprehensively cover global, linguistic, national, and regional sources. These subcategories are as follows:

  • Universal Bibliography: Universal bibliography aims to compile a comprehensive list of all published works worldwide, regardless of subject or language. It seeks to encompass human knowledge and includes sources from diverse fields, cultures, and periods. Universal bibliography is a monumental effort to create a comprehensive record of the world’s published works, making it a valuable resource for scholars, librarians, and researchers interested in exploring the breadth of human intellectual output.
  • Language Bibliography: Language bibliography focuses on compiling sources specific to a particular language or group of languages. It encompasses publications written in a specific language, regardless of the subject matter. Language bibliographies are essential for language scholars, linguists, and researchers interested in exploring the literature and resources available in a particular language or linguistic group.
  • National Bibliography: The national bibliography documents and catalogs all published materials within a specific country. It serves as a comprehensive record of books, journals, periodicals, government publications, and other sources published within a nation’s borders. National bibliographies are essential for preserving a country’s cultural heritage, facilitating research within specific national contexts, and providing a comprehensive overview of a nation’s intellectual output.
  • Regional Bibliography: A regional bibliography compiles sources specific to a particular geographic region or area. It aims to capture the literature, publications, and resources related to a specific region, such as a state, province, or local area. Regional bibliographies are valuable for researchers interested in exploring a specific geographic region’s literature, history, culture, and unique aspects.

1.2.2. Special Bibliography:

Special bibliography refers to a type of bibliography that focuses on specific subjects, themes, or niche areas within a broader field of study. It aims to provide a comprehensive and in-depth compilation of sources specifically relevant to the chosen topic. Special bibliographies are tailored to meet the research needs of scholars, researchers, and enthusiasts seeking specialized information and resources.

Special bibliographies can cover a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to specific disciplines, subfields, historical periods, geographical regions, industries, or even specific authors or works. They are designed to gather and present a curated selection of sources considered important, authoritative, or influential within the chosen subject area.

Special bibliography encompasses several subcategories that focus on specific subjects, authors, forms of literature, periods, categories of literature, and types of materials. These subcategories include:

  • Subject Bibliography: Subject bibliography compiles sources related to a specific subject or topic. It aims to provide a comprehensive list of resources within a particular field. Subject bibliographies are valuable for researchers seeking in-depth information on a specific subject area, as they gather relevant sources and materials to facilitate focused research.
  • Author and Bio-bibliographies: Author and bio-bibliographies focus on compiling sources specific to individual authors. They provide comprehensive lists of an author’s works, including their books, articles, essays, and other publications. Bio-bibliographies include biographical information about the author, such as their background, career, and contributions to their respective fields.
  • Bibliography of Forms of Literature: This bibliography focuses on specific forms or genres of literature, such as poetry, drama, fiction, or non-fiction. It provides a compilation of works within a particular literary form, enabling researchers to explore the literature specific to their interests or to gain a comprehensive understanding of a particular genre.
  • Bibliography of Materials of Particular Periods: Bibliographies of materials of particular periods compile sources specific to a particular historical period or time frame. They include works published or created during that period, offering valuable insights into the era’s literature, art, culture, and historical context.
  • Bibliographies of Special Categories of Literature: This category compiles sources related to special categories or themes. Examples include bibliographies of children’s literature, feminist literature, postcolonial literature, or science fiction literature. These bibliographies cater to specific interests or perspectives within the broader field of literature.
  • Bibliographies of Specific Types of Materials: Bibliographies of specific materials focus on compiling sources within a particular format or medium. Examples include bibliographies of manuscripts, rare books, visual art, films, or musical compositions. These bibliographies provide valuable resources for researchers interested in exploring a specific medium or format.

1.3 Functions of Bibliography

A bibliography serves several important functions in academic research, writing, and knowledge dissemination. Here are some key functions:

  • Documentation: One of the primary functions of a bibliography is to document and record the sources consulted during the research process. By providing accurate and detailed citations for each source, it can ensure transparency, traceability, and accountability in scholarly work. It allows readers and other researchers to verify the information, trace the origins of ideas, and locate the original sources for further study.
  • Attribution and Credit: The bibliography plays a crucial role in giving credit to the original authors and creators of the ideas, information, and materials used in research work. By citing the sources, the authors acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others and demonstrate academic integrity. This enables proper attribution and prevents plagiarism, ensuring ethical research practices and upholding the principles of academic honesty.
  • Verification and Quality Control: It acts as a means of verification and quality control in academic research. Readers and reviewers can assess the information’s reliability, credibility, and accuracy by including a list of sources. This allows others to evaluate the strength of the evidence, assess the validity of the arguments, and determine the scholarly rigor of a work.
  • Further Reading and Exploration: The bibliography is valuable for readers who wish to delve deeper into a particular subject or topic. By providing a list of cited sources, the bibliography offers a starting point for further reading and exploration. It guides readers to related works, seminal texts, and authoritative materials, facilitating their intellectual growth and expanding their knowledge base.
  • Preservation of Knowledge: The bibliography contributes to the preservation of knowledge by cataloguing and documenting published works. It records the intellectual output within various fields, ensuring that valuable information is not lost over time. A bibliography facilitates the organization and accessibility of literature, making it possible to locate and retrieve sources for future reference and research.
  • Intellectual Dialogue and Scholarship: The bibliography fosters intellectual dialogue and scholarship by facilitating the exchange of ideas and enabling researchers to build upon existing knowledge. By citing relevant sources, researchers enter into conversations with other scholars, engaging in a scholarly discourse that advances knowledge within their field of study.

A bibliography serves the important functions of documenting sources, crediting original authors, verifying information, guiding further reading, preserving knowledge, and fostering intellectual dialogue. It plays a crucial role in maintaining academic research’s integrity, transparency, and quality and ensures that scholarly work is built upon a solid foundation of evidence and ideas.

1.4 Importance of Bibliographic Services

Bibliographic services are crucial in academia, research, and information management. They are a fundamental tool for organizing, accessing, and preserving knowledge . From facilitating efficient research to ensuring the integrity and credibility of scholarly work, bibliographic services hold immense importance in various domains.

Bibliographic services are vital for researchers and scholars. These services provide comprehensive and reliable access to various resources, such as books, journals, articles, and other scholarly materials. By organizing these resources in a structured manner, bibliographic services make it easier for researchers to locate relevant information for their studies. Researchers can explore bibliographic databases, catalogues, and indexes to identify appropriate sources, saving them valuable time and effort. This accessibility enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of research, enabling scholars to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their fields.

Bibliographic services also aid in the process of citation and referencing. Proper citation is an essential aspect of academic integrity and intellectual honesty. Bibliographic services assist researchers in accurately citing the sources they have used in their work, ensuring that credit is given where it is due. This not only acknowledges the original authors and their contributions but also strengthens the credibility and authenticity of the research. By providing citation guidelines, formatting styles, and citation management tools, bibliographic services simplify the citation process, making it more manageable for researchers.

Another crucial aspect of bibliographic services is their role in preserving and archiving knowledge. Libraries and institutions that provide bibliographic services serve as custodians of valuable information. They collect, organize, and preserve various physical and digital resources for future generations. This preservation ensures that knowledge is not lost or forgotten over time. Bibliographic services enable researchers, students, and the general public to access historical and scholarly materials, fostering continuous learning and intellectual growth.

Bibliographic services contribute to the dissemination of research and scholarly works. They provide platforms and databases for publishing and sharing academic outputs. By cataloguing and indexing research articles, journals, and conference proceedings, bibliographic services enhance the discoverability and visibility of scholarly work. This facilitates knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation within academic communities. Researchers can rely on bibliographic services to share their findings with a broader audience, fostering intellectual dialogue and advancing their respective fields.

In Summary, bibliographic services are immensely important in academia, research, and information management. They facilitate efficient analysis, aid in proper citation and referencing, preserve knowledge for future generations, and contribute to the dissemination of research. These services form the backbone of scholarly pursuits, enabling researchers, students, and professionals to access, utilize, and contribute to the vast wealth of knowledge available. As we continue to rely on information and research to drive progress and innovation, the significance of bibliographic services will only grow, making them indispensable resources in pursuing knowledge.


  • Reddy, P. V. G. (1999). Bio bibliography of the faculty in social sciences departments of Sri Krishnadevaraya university Anantapur A P India.
  • Sharma, J.S. Fundamentals of Bibliography, New Delhi : S. Chand & Co.. Ltd.. 1977.  p.5.
  • Quoted in George Schneider, Theory of History of Bibliography. Ralph Robert Shaw, trans., New York : Scare Crow Press, 1934, p.13.
  • Funk Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of the English language – International ed – Vol. I – New York : Funku Wagnalls Co., C 1965, p. 135.
  • Shores, Louis. Basic reference sources. Chicago : American Library Association, 1954. p. 11-12.
  • Ranganathan, S.R., Documentation and its facts. Bombay : Asia Publishing House. 1963. p.49.
  • Katz, William A. Introduction to reference work. 4th ed. New York : McGraw Hill, 1982. V. 1, p.42.
  • Robinson, A.M.L. Systematic Bibliography. Bombay : Asia Publishing House, 1966. p.12.
  • Chakraborthi, M.L. Bibliography : In Theory and practice, Calcutta : The World press (P) Ltd.. 1975. p.343.

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National bibliography, bibliographic services.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

An annotated bibliography is a list of cited resources related to a particular topic or arranged thematically that include a brief descriptive or evaluative summary. The annotated bibliography can be arranged chronologically by date of publication or alphabetically by author, with citations to print and/or digital materials, such as, books, newspaper articles, journal articles, dissertations, government documents, pamphlets, web sites, etc., multimedia sources like films and audio recordings, or documents and materials preserved in archival collections.

Beatty, Luke and Cynthia Cochran. Writing the Annotated Bibliography: A Guide for Students and Researchers . New York: Routledge, 2020; Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography . 2nd edition. New York: Modern Language Association, 2000.

Importance of a Good Annotated Bibliography

In lieu of writing a formal research paper or in preparation for a larger writing project, your professor may ask you to develop an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography may be assigned for a number of reasons, including :

  • To show that you can identify and evaluate the literature underpinning a research problem;
  • To demonstrate that you can identify and conduct an effective and thorough review of pertinent literature;
  • To develop skills in discerning the most relevant research studies from those which have only superficial relevance to your topic;
  • To explore how different types of sources contribute to understanding the research problem;
  • To be thoroughly engaged with individual sources in order to strengthen your analytical skills; or,
  • To share sources among your classmates so that, collectively, everyone in the class obtains a comprehensive understanding of research about a particular topic.

On a broader level, writing an annotated bibliography can lay the foundation for conducting a larger research project. It serves as a method to evaluate what research has been conducted and where your proposed study may fit within it. By critically analyzing and synthesizing the contents of a variety of sources, you can begin to evaluate what the key issues are in relation to the research problem and, by so doing, gain a better perspective about the deliberations taking place among scholars. As a result of this analysis, you are better prepared to develop your own point of view and contributions to the literature.

In summary, creating a good annotated bibliography...

  • Encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within the broader field of study, and their relation to your own research, assumptions, and ideas;
  • Gives you practical experience conducting a thorough review of the literature concerning a research problem;
  • Provides evidence that you have read and understood your sources;
  • Establishes validity for the research you have done and of you as a researcher;
  • Gives you the opportunity to consider and include key digital, multimedia, or archival materials among your review of the literature;
  • Situates your study and underlying research problem in a continuing conversation among scholars;
  • Provides an opportunity for others to determine whether a source will be helpful for their research; and,
  • Could help researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of scholarly investigations that have been conducted in a particular area of study.

In summary, writing an annotated bibliography helps you develop skills related to critically reading and identifying the key points of a research study and to effectively synthesize the content in a way that helps the reader determine its validity and usefulness in relation to the research problem or topic of investigation.

NOTE: Do not confuse annotating source materials in the social sciences with annotating source materials in the arts and humanities. Rather than encompassing forms of synopsis and critical analysis, an annotation assignment in arts and humanities courses refers to the systematic interpretation of literary texts, art works, musical scores, performances, and other forms of creative human communication for the purpose of clarifying and encouraging analytical thinking about what the author(s)/creator(s) have written or created. They are assigned to encourage students to actively engage with the text or creative object.

Annotated Bibliographies. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Annotated Bibliographies. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Annotated Bibliography. The Waldin Writing Center. Waldin University; Hartley, James. Academic Writing and Publishing: A Practical Guide . (New York: Routledge, 2008), p. 127-128; Writing an Annotated Bibliography. Assignment Structures and Samples Research and Learning Online, Monash University; Kalir, Remi H. and Antero Garcia. Annotation . Essential Knowledge Series. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types

  • Descriptive : This annotation describes the source without summarizing the actual argument, hypothesis, or message in the content. Like an abstract , it describes what the source addresses, what issues are being investigated, and any special features, such as appendices or bibliographies, that are used to supplement the main text. What it does not include is any evaluation or criticism of the content. This type of annotation seeks to answer the question: Does this source cover or address the topic I am researching? Collectively, this type of annotated bibliography synthesizes prior research about a topic or serves as a review of the literature before conducting a broader research study.
  • Informative/Summative : This type of annotation summarizes what the content, message, or argument of the source is. It generally contains the hypothesis, methodology, and conclusion or findings, but like the descriptive type, you are not offering your own evaluative comments about such content. This type of annotation seeks to answer these types of questions: What are the author's main arguments? What are the key findings? What conclusions or recommended actions did the author state?   Collectively, this type of annotated bibliography summarizes the way in which scholars have studied and documented outcomes about a topic.
  • Evaluative/Critical/Analytical : This annotation includes your own evaluative statements about the content of a source. It is the most common type of annotation your professor will ask you to write. Your critique may focus on describing a study's strengths and weaknesses or it may describe the applicability of the conclusions to the research problem you are studying. This type of annotation seeks to answer these types of questions: Is the reasoning sound? Is the methodology sound? Does this source address all the relevant issues? How does this source compare to other sources on this topic? Collectively, this type of annotated bibliography offers a detailed analysis and critical assessment of the research literature about a topic.

NOTE:   There are a variety of strategies you can use to critically evaluate a source based on its content, purpose, and format. A description of these strategies can be found here .

II.  Choosing Sources for Your Bibliography

There are two good strategies to begin identifying possible sources for your bibliography--one that looks back into the literature and one that projects forward based on tracking sources cited by researchers.

  • The first strategy is to identify several recently published [within the past few years] scholarly books using the USC Libraries catalog or journal articles found by searching a comprehensive, multidisciplinary database like ProQuest Multiple . Review the list of references to sources cited by the author(s). Review these citations to identify prior research published about your topic. For a complete list of scholarly databases GO HERE .
  • The second strategy is to identify one or more books, book chapters, journal articles, or research reports on your topic and paste the title of the item into Google Scholar [e.g., from Negotiation Journal , entering the title of the article, " Civic Fusion: Moving from Certainty through Not Knowing to Curiosity " ]. If it is a short title or it uses a lot of common words, place quotation marks around the title so Google Scholar searches the source as a phrase rather than a combination of individual words. Below the citation may be a "Cited by" reference link followed by a number [e.g., Cited by 45]. This number refers to the number of times a source has subsequently been cited by other authors in other sources after the item you found was published.

Your method for selecting which sources to annotate depends on the purpose of the assignment and the research problem you are investigating . For example, if the course is on international social movements and the research problem you choose to study is to compare cultural factors that led to protests in Egypt with the factors that led to protests against the government of the Philippines in  the 1980's, you should consider including non-U.S., historical, and, if possible, foreign language sources in your bibliography.

NOTE:   Appropriate sources to include can be anything that you believe has value in understanding the research problem . Be creative in thinking about possible sources, including non-textual items, such as, films, maps, photographs, and audio recordings, or archival documents and primary source materials, such as, diaries, government documents, collections of personal correspondence, meeting minutes, or official memorandums. If you want to include these types of sources in your annotated bibliography, consult with a librarian if you're not sure where to locate them.

III.  Strategies to Define the Scope of Your Bibliography

It is important that the scope of sources cited and summarized in your bibliography are well-defined and sufficiently narrow in coverage to ensure that you're not overwhelmed by the number of potential items to consider including. Many of the general strategies used to narrow a topic for a research paper are the same that be applied to framing the scope of sources to include in an annotated bibliography.

  • Aspect -- choose one lens through which to view the research problem, or look at just one facet of your topic [e.g., rather than annotating a bibliography of sources about the role of food in religious rituals, create a bibliography on the role of food in Hindu ceremonies].
  • Time -- the shorter the time period to be covered, the more narrow the focus [e.g., rather than political scandals of the 20th century, cite literature on political scandals during the 1980s].
  • Comparative -- a list of resources that focus on comparing two or more issues related to the broader research topic can be used to narrow the scope of your bibliography [e.g., rather than college student activism during the 20th century, cite literature that compares student activism in the 1930s and the 1960s]
  • Geography -- the smaller the area of analysis, the fewer items there are to consider including in your bibliography [e.g., rather than cite sources about trade relations in West Africa, include only sources that examine, as a case study, trade relations between Niger and Cameroon].
  • Type -- focus your bibliography on a specific type or class of people, places, or things [e.g., rather than health care provision in Japan, cite research on health care provided to the elderly in Japan].
  • Source -- your bibliography includes specific types of materials [e.g., only books, only scholarly journal articles, only films, only archival materials, etc.]. However, be sure to describe why only one type of source is appropriate.
  • Combination -- use two or more of the above strategies to focus your bibliography very narrowly or to broaden coverage of a very specific research problem [e.g., cite literature only about political scandals during the 1980s that took place in Great Britain].

IV.  Assessing the Relevance and Value of Sources All the items included in your bibliography should reflect the source's contribution to understanding the research problem . In order to determine how you will use the source or define its contribution, you will need to critically evaluate the quality of the central argument within the source or, in the case of including  non-textual items, determine how the source contributes to understanding the research problem [e.g., if the bibliography lists sources about outreach strategies to homeless populations, a non-textual source would be a film that profiles the life of a homeless person]. Specific elements to assess a research study include an item’s overall value in relation to other sources on the topic, its limitations, its effectiveness in defining the research problem, the methodology used, the quality of the evidence, and the strength of the author’s conclusions and/or recommendations. With this in mind, determining whether a source should be included in your bibliography depends on how you think about and answer the following questions related to its content:

  • Are you interested in the way the author(s) frame the research questions or in the way the author goes about investigating the questions [the method]?
  • Does the research findings make new connections or promote new ways of understanding the problem?
  • Are you interested in the way the author(s) use a theoretical framework or a key concept?
  • Does the source refer to and analyze a particular body of evidence that you want to highlight?
  • How are the author's conclusions relevant to your overall investigation of the topic?

V.  Format and Content

The format of an annotated bibliography can differ depending on its purpose and the nature of the assignment. Contents may be listed alphabetically by author, arranged chronologically by publication date, or arranged under headings that list different types of sources [i.e., books, articles, government documents, research reports, etc.]. If the bibliography includes a lot of sources, items may also be subdivided thematically, by time periods of coverage or publication, or by source type. If you are unsure, ask your professor for specific guidelines in terms of length, focus, and the type of annotation you are to write. Note that most professors assign annotated bibliographies that only need to be arranged alphabetically by author.

Introduction Your bibliography should include an introduction that describes the research problem or topic being covered, including any limits placed on items to be included [e.g., only material published in the last ten years], explains the method used to identify possible sources [such as databases you searched or methods used to identify sources], the rationale for selecting the sources, and, if appropriate, an explanation stating why specific types of some sources were deliberately excluded. The introduction's length depends, in general, on the complexity of the topic and the variety of sources included.

Citation This first part of your entry contains the bibliographic information written in a standard documentation style , such as, MLA, Chicago, or APA. Ask your professor what style is most appropriate, and be consistent! If your professor does not have a preferred citation style, choose the type you are most familiar with or that is used predominantly within your major or area of study.

Annotation The second part of your entry should summarize, in paragraph form, the content of the source. What you say about the source is dictated by the type of annotation you are asked to write [see above]. In most cases, however, your annotation should describe the content and provide critical commentary that evaluates the source and its relationship to the topic.

In general, the annotation should include one to three sentences about the item in the following order : (1) an introduction of the item; (2) a brief description of what the study was intended to achieve and the research methods used to gather information; ( 3) the scope of study [i.e., limits and boundaries of the research related to sample size, area of concern, targeted groups examined, or extent of focus on the problem]; (4) a statement about the study's usefulness in relation to your research and the topic; (5) a note concerning any limitations found in the study; (6) a summary of any recommendations or further research offered by the author(s); and, (7) a critical statement that elucidates how the source clarifies your topic or pertains to the research problem.

Things to think critically about when writing the annotation include:

  • Does the source offer a good introduction on the issue?
  • Does the source effectively address the issue?
  • Would novices find the work accessible or is it intended for an audience already familiar with the topic?
  • What limitations does the source have [reading level, timeliness, reliability, etc.]?
  • Are any special features, such as, appendices or non-textual elements effectively presented?
  • What is your overall reaction to the source?
  • If it's a website or online resource, is it up-to-date, well-organized, and easy to read, use, and navigate?

Length An annotation can vary in length from a few sentences to more than a page, single-spaced. However, they are normally about 300 words--the length of a standard paragraph. The length also depends on the purpose of the annotated bibliography [critical assessments are generally lengthier than descriptive annotations] and the type of source [e.g., books generally require a more detailed annotation than a magazine article]. If you are just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need to devote more space.

Annotated Bibliographies. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Annotated Bibliographies. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Annotated Bibliography. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Annotated Bibliography. Writing Center. Walden University; Annotated Bibliography. Writing Skills, Student Support and Development, University of New South Wales; Engle, Michael et al. How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography. Olin Reference, Research and Learning Services. Cornell University Library; Guidelines for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography. Writing Center at Campus Library. University of Washington, Bothell; Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography . 2nd edition. New York: Modern Language Association, 2000; How to Write an Annotated Bibliography. Information and Library Services. University of Maryland; Knott, Deborah. Writing an Annotated Bibliography. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Norton, Donna. Top 32 Effective Tips for Writing an Annotated Bibliography Top-notch study tips for A+ students blog; Writing from Sources: Writing an Annotated Bibliography. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College.

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University libraries, research guides, a guide to environmental science research.

  • Journal articles
  • Books & media
  • Stats, theses, & other formats
  • News articles
  • Get full text of a specific article
  • Request sources not at DU Libraries
  • Search databases effectively
  • Evaluate your sources
  • Confirm an article is peer-reviewed
  • Cite sources properly

Why do I need to cite my sources?

When should i cite a source, how do i cite a source, quick tools for auto-formatting your citations:, understand the generic format of a citation:.

Imagine research as a conversation -- scholars are trading ideas back and forth and building on the findings of earlier work. Citing your sources is an important part of contributing to this conversation -- it allows readers to understand how your work fits into the overall conversation.

Citing your sources in a standard style also helps readers tell at a glance what type of source you used (book vs. journal article, etc), and it helps readers find and reference the sources you used.

What is Plagiarism?

The  DU Honor Code  defines plagiarism as "including any representation of another's work or ideas as one's own in academic and educational submissions."

At DU, plagiarism is seen as a form of academic misconduct and can result in severe consequences. These explanations of the most common  types of plagiarism  from Bowdoin College can help you learn to detect plagiarism in your own and other's work.

The text above is a direct quote from the Northern Arizona University e-Learning Center's  Academic Integrity @ NAU tutorial. The e-Learning Center was paraphrasing Princeton University's guidelines.

What is Plagiarism Detection Software?

DU uses a plagiarism detection software called VeriCite . When a student turns in a paper through Canvas, VeriCite checks the internet and many databases to see if anything has been copied from another person’s work.

Common Citation Styles:

DU Main users may access

  • The ACS Style Guide (American Chemical Society) This link takes you directly to Chapter 14, which explains how to format references in ACS Style. Click on the link for the Table of Contents to read the entire Style Guide, which describes how to write, review, submit, and edit scholarly & scientific manuscripts.
  • CSE (Council of Science Editors) Style An overview by the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The library has multiple print copies of the 8th edition of the CSE manual: "Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers" (2014).

Online Style Guides:

  • Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)
  • Citing Information (UNC Libraries)
  • The Writer's Handbook (UW Madison Writing Center)

Want to use a program that not only creates your bibliography automatically, but can also store and organize citations and PDFs?

  • Check out ReadCube Papers -- DU provides all students, faculty, and staff with free accounts.
  • Check out Zotero -- a great free option from the makers of the Firefox browser.

Just need to format a few citations right now? Try these quick tools:

  • ZoteroBib Create a quick bibliography by pasting in a page URL or article information such as the DOI.
  • Google Scholar Citation Generator Look up an citation in Google Scholar, then look for the quote icon below the citation. This link provides examples of the citation in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.
  • CItation Generator Build citations in APA, Chicago, or MLA style.

Whichever program you choose, remember to proofread the citations it generates for you!

If you understand the general anatomy of a citation, it's easier to create your own citations -- plus, you can tell at a glance what kind of source was cited. Here's the anatomy of two sources formatted in the CSE (Council of Science Editors) style:

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  1. Bibliography

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  1. How to Write a Bibliography For a Science Fair Project

    Write the title of the article in quotation marks. End the title with a period inside the quotation marks. Write the title of the magazine in italics followed by a comma. Write the publication date (abbreviating the month) followed by a comma and the page numbers preceded by pp. and followed by a period.

  2. Bibliography Definition & Meaning

    bibliography: [noun] the history, identification, or description of writings or publications.

  3. How to Write a Bibliography in APA and MLA styles With Examples

    A bibliography is a listing of the books, magazines, and Internet sources that you use in designing, carrying out, and understanding your science fair project. Your bibliography should include a minimum of three written sources of information about your topic from books, encyclopedias, and periodicals.

  4. What citation style to use for science [Updated 2023]

    CSE style is the standard format used in the physical and life sciences. This style features three types of citation systems: citation-sequence, name-year, and citation-name. • Name-Year: In-text citations of this type feature the author's last name and the year of publication in brackets. A bibliography at the end lists all references in full.

  5. How to Write a Bibliography in APA Format with Examples

    Alphabetize the entries in your list by the author's last name, using the letter-by-letter system (ignore spaces and other punctuation.) Only the initials of the first and middle names are given. If the author's name is unknown, alphabetize by the title, ignoring any A, An, or The. For dates, spell out the names of months in the text of your ...

  6. Writing a Bibliography

    A bibliography is a detailed list of all the sources consulted and cited in a research paper or project. The bibliography structure always includes citing the author's name, the title of the work ...

  7. Bibliography

    Bibliography is a specialized aspect of library science (or library and information science, LIS) and documentation science. It was established by a Belgian, named Paul Otlet (1868-1944), who was the founder of the field of documentation, as a branch of the information sciences, who wrote about "the science of bibliography."

  8. What Is a Bibliography?

    A bibliography is a list of books, scholarly articles, speeches, private records, diaries, interviews, laws, letters, websites, and other sources you use when researching a topic and writing a paper. The bibliography appears at the end. The main purpose of a bibliography entry is to give credit to authors whose work you've consulted in your ...

  9. What is a Bibliography?

    A bibliography is a list of all of the sources you have used in the process of researching your work. In general, a bibliography should include: the authors' names. the titles of the works. the names and locations of the companies that published your copies of the sources. the dates your copies were published.

  10. How to Write a Bibliography, With Examples

    For example, your computer science professor might require you to submit an annotated bibliography along with your paper because this type of bibliography explains the why behind each source you chose to consult. Analytical bibliography. An analytical bibliography documents a work's journey from manuscript to published book or article.

  11. Bibliography

    bibliography, the systematic cataloging, study, and description of written and printed works, especially books.. Bibliography is either (1) the listing of works according to some system (descriptive, or enumerative, bibliography) or (2) the study of works as tangible objects (critical, or analytical, bibliography).The word bibliography is also used to describe the product of those activities ...

  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY Definition & Usage Examples

    Bibliography definition: . See examples of BIBLIOGRAPHY used in a sentence.

  13. Annotated Bibliography

    A bibliography is a list of citations to books, journal articles, and other works. An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, journal articles, and other works accompanied by descriptive and/or critical paragraph length summaries. Steps for Writing an Annotated Bibliography.

  14. Citation Styles Guide

    APA Style is the most popular citation style, widely used in the social and behavioral sciences. MLA style is the second most popular, used mainly in the humanities. Chicago notes and bibliography style is also popular in the humanities, especially history. Chicago author-date style tends to be used in the sciences.

  15. What is Bibliography?: Meaning, Types, and Importance

    A bibliography is a fundamental component of academic research and writing that serves as a comprehensive list of sources consulted and referenced in a particular work. It plays a crucial role in validating the credibility and reliability of the information presented by providing readers with the necessary information to locate and explore the cited sources.

  16. Annotated Bibliography

    Strategies to Define the Scope of Your Bibliography. It is important that the scope of sources cited and summarized in your bibliography are well-defined and sufficiently narrow in coverage to ensure that you're not overwhelmed by the number of potential items to consider including. Many of the general strategies used to narrow a topic for a ...

  17. bibliography

    The compound word bibliography is based on two ancient Greek words— biblion, meaning "book" and graphein, "to write.". In the broadest sense, any book about writing could be called a bibliography; but actually the word has a much more definite meaning. As it has been used during the last few centuries it means the scientific record of ...

  18. A Guide to Environmental Science Research

    Want to use a program that not only creates your bibliography automatically, but can also store and organize citations and PDFs? Check out ReadCube Papers-- DU provides all students, faculty, and staff with free accounts. Check out Zotero-- a great free option from the makers of the Firefox browser. Just need to format a few citations right now?

  19. How To

    By Adrienne Mathewson. In Citations, How To. 3 Min read. S. A good way to guide your reader to the exact definition of a word you've used in your essay is to include a dictionary citation. You should keep in mind, however, that reference works, like dictionaries and encyclopedias, are secondary sources.

  20. PDF A Bibliography: Key References on Climate Change

    Bibliography: Key References on Climate Change. The basis for our understanding of observed and projected climate change is scientific findings published in the peer-reviewed literature. Scientists periodically convene to assess and synthesize the peer-reviewed science. These assessments serve to integrate scientific information from various ...

  21. Creating a Bibliography: Lesson for Kids

    A bibliography is a descriptive list of sources used in preparing written work. In fact, the word comes from ancient Greek: biblion, meaning 'book,' and -graphia, meaning 'to write.'. This tool is ...