How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography

  • The Annotated Bibliography
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Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography.

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

Annotations vs. Abstracts

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

The Process

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

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

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

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

Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document

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

Choosing the Correct Citation Style

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

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

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

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

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

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

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Annotated Bibliographies

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

Definitions

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

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

For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.

For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources .

  • Reflect : Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.

Why should I write an annotated bibliography?

To learn about your topic : Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.

To help other researchers : Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.

The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific guidelines.

The bibliographic information : Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout . For APA, go here: APA handout .

The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're 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 more space.

You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.

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  • How to create an MLA style annotated bibliography

MLA Style Annotated Bibliography | Format & Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Table of contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLA annotated bibliography

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

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

Phrases or full sentences?

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

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

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

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

How many paragraphs?

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

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

Descriptive, evaluative, or reflective annotations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2022, June 14). MLA Style Annotated Bibliography | Format & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/mla-annotated-bibliography/

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annotated Bibliographies

What this handout is about.

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

Introduction

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

Why do an annotated bibliography?

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

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

What does an annotated bibliography do?

A good annotated bibliography:

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

What elements might an annotation include?

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

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

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

Did you know that annotations have categories and styles?

Decisions, decisions.

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

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

MLA (Modern Language Association)

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

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

APA (American Psychological Association)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of annotations

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

Summary annotations

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

Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:

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

Informative annotation

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

Indicative annotation

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

Critical/evaluative

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

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

Combination

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

Writing style

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

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

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

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

MLA Example

APA Example

CBE Example

Works consulted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or “annotation.”

These annotations do one or more of the following:

  • describe the content and focus of the book or article
  • suggest the source’s usefulness to your research
  • evaluate its method, conclusions, or reliability
  • record your reactions to the source.

How do I format the bibliographic citations?

Check with your instructor to determine which documentation style is required for your class: APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, CBE, Numbered References, APSA, etc.

Then, remember that the bibliography is an organized list of sources used. The annotation may immediately follow the bibliographic information on the same line, or it may begin on a new line, two lines below the publication information.

But, since style manuals differ, check with your instructor about which one to use concerning form, spacing, and consistency.

If you are using APA documentation, the Writing Center offers a short workshop called “APA Documentation”.

What goes into the content of the annotations?

Below are some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies. Click on the links to see examples of each.

This form of annotation defines the scope of the source, lists the significant topics included, and tells what the source is about.

This type is different from the informative entry in that the informative entry gives actual information about its source.

In the indicative entry there is no attempt to give actual data such as hypotheses, proofs, etc. Generally, only topics or chapter titles are included.

Indicative (descriptive–tell us what is included in the source) Griffin, C. Williams, ed. (1982). Teaching writing in all disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ten essays on writing-across-the-curriculum programs, teaching writing in disciplines other than English, and teaching techniques for using writing as learning. Essays include Toby Fulwiler, “Writing: An Act of Cognition”; Barbara King, “Using Writing in the Mathematics Class: Theory and Pratice”; Dean Drenk, “Teaching Finance Through Writing”; Elaine P. Maimon, “Writing Across the Curriculum: Past, Present, and Future.” (Bizzell and Herzberg, 1991, p. 47)

Informative

Simply put, this form of annotation is a summary of the source.

To write it, begin by writing the thesis; then develop it with the argument or hypothesis, list the proofs, and state the conclusion.

Informative (summary–tell us what the main findings or arguments are in the source) Voeltz, L.M. (1980). Children’s attitudes toward handicapped peers. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 455-464. As services for severely handicapped children become increasingly available within neighborhood public schools, children’s attitudes toward handicapped peers in integrated settings warrant attention. Factor analysis of attitude survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors underlying attitudes toward handicapped peers: social-contact willingness, deviance consequation, and two actual contact dimensions. Upper elementary-age children, girls, and children in schools with most contact with severely handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes. Results of this study suggest the modifiability of children’s attitudes and the need to develop interventions to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences in integrated school settings. (Sternlicht and Windholz, 1984, p. 79)

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

You get to say why the source is interesting or helpful to you, or why it is not. In doing this you should list what kind of and how much information is given; in short, evaluate the source’s usefulness.

Evaluative (tell us what you think of the source) Gurko, Leo. (1968). Ernest Hemingway and the pursuit of heroism. New York: Crowell. This book is part of a series called “Twentieth Century American Writers”: a brief introduction to the man and his work. After fifty pages of straight biography, Gurko discussed Hemingway’s writing, novel by novel. There’s an index and a short bibliography, but no notes. The biographical part is clear and easy to read, but it sounds too much like a summary. (Spatt, 1991, p. 322) Hingley, Ronald. (1950). Chekhov: A biographical and critical study. London: George Allen & Unwin. A very good biography. A unique feature of this book is the appendix, which has a chronological listing of all English translations of Chekhov’s short stories. (Spatt, 1991, p. 411)

Combination

Most annotated bibliographies are of this type.

They contain one or two sentences summarizing or describing content and one or two sentences providing an evaluation.

Combination Morris, Joyce M. (1959). Reading in the primary school: An investigation into standards of reading and their association with primary school characteristics. London: Newnes, for National Foundation for Educational Research. Report of a large-scale investigation into English children’s reading standards, and their relation to conditions such as size of classes, types of organisation and methods of teaching. Based on enquiries in sixty schools in Kent and covering 8,000 children learning to read English as their mother tongue. Notable for thoroughness of research techniques.

Which writing style should I use in the annotations?

The most important thing to understand is that entries should be brief.

Only directly significant details will be mentioned and any information apparent in the title can be omitted from the annotation.

In addition, background materials and references to previous work by the same author usually are not included.

Listed below are three writing styles used in annotated bibliographies. Click on a link to see examples of each.

Telegraphic

(phrases, non-sentences)

Get the information out, quickly and concisely. Be clear, but complete and grammatically correct sentences are unnecessary.

Telegraphic (phrases, non-sentences) Vowles, Richard B. (1962). Psychology and drama: A selected checklist. Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, 3,(1), 35-48. Divided by individual authors. Reviews the research between 1920 and 1961. (Bell and Gallup, 1971, p. 68)

Complete sentences

In this style you must always use complete sentences.

The length of the sentences varies. Subjects and conjunctions are not eliminated even though the tone may be terse. Avoid long and complex sentences.

Complete sentences Kinter, W. R., and R L. Pfaltzgraff. (1972). Assessing the Moscow SALT agreements. Orbis, 16, 34l-360. The authors hold the conservative view that SALT can not halt the slipping nuclear advantage of the United States. They conclude that the United States needs a national reassessment of defense policy. They further conclude that the only utility of SALT is in developing a dialogue with the Soviets. This is a good conservative critique of SALT I. (Strenski and Manfred, 1981, p. 165)

When using this form of annotation, you must write a full, coherent paragraph.

Sometimes this can be similar to the form of a bibliographic essay. It goes without saying that you need to use complete sentences.

Paragraph (a little more formal) Voeltz, L.M. (1980). Children’s attitudes toward handicapped peers. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 455-464. As services for severely handicapped children become increasingly available within neighborhood public schools, children’s attitudes toward handicapped peers in integrated settings warrant attention. Factor analysis of attitude survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors underlying attitudes toward handicapped peers: social- contact willingness, deviance consequation, and two actual contact dimensions. Upper elementary-age children, girls, and children in schools with most contact with severely handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes. Results of this study suggest the modifiability of children’s attitudes and the need to develop interventions to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences in integrated school settings. (Sternlicht and Windholz, 1984, p. 79)

Additional information

If you have additional questions, ask your course instructor or consider scheduling an appointment with a Writing Center instructor.

The Writing Center also has information on different documentation systems, such as MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, CBE, Numbered References, and APSA styles of citation.

If you are using APA documentation, you are in luck! The Writing Center offers a short class called “The Basics of APA Documentation”!

References for examples used

Bell, Inglis F., and Jennifer Gallup. (1971). A reference guide to English, American, and Canadian literature . Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg. (1991). Bedford bibliography for teachers of writing . 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.

Center for Information on Language Teaching and The English Teaching Information Center of the British Council. (1968). A Language-teaching bibliography . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spatt, Brenda. (1991). Writing from sources . 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Sternlicht, Manny, and George Windholz. (1984). Social behavior of the mentally retarded. New York and London: Garland Press.

Strenski, Ellen, and Madge Manfred. (1981). The research paper workbook . 2nd ed. New York and London: Longman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Last Updated: Aug 8, 2023 11:27 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.umgc.edu/annotated-bibliography-apa

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An  annotated bibliography  is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a References page but includes an annotation after each source cited. An annotation is a short summary and/or critical evaluation of a source. Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself.

Basic Tips on Formatting

  • Start with the same format as a regular References list.
  • The first line of the citation starts at the left margin and subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches (hanging indent).
  • The annotation begins on a new line and is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • Entries are double-spaced with no extra lines between entries.
  • If the annotation consists of more than one paragraph, indent the first line of each successive paragraph an additional 0.5 inches.
  • Use the third person (e.g., he, she, the author) instead of the first person (e.g., I, my, me).

Sample Evaluative Annotation

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

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

Useful Links for Annotated Bibliographies

The formatting of annotated bibliographies can vary. The University Libraries recommend the format exhibited in the examples below, but if you are still unsure what format to use, ask your professor. 

  • Includes a sample of one APA annotation (from the Purdue OWL).
  • A guide covering the basics of writing an annotated bibliography.
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APA Annotated Bibliography Format

The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but does ask that the list be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the  Publication Manual ). Since there are no set rules for creating one, you may be wondering how to create an annotated APA bibliography. If your teacher or professor requests one, don’t worry, here are our recommendations:

  • Make sure you create your references according to APA’s guidelines. If you need some help, here’s a great  APA citation website , which shows how to create references for electronic sources. We also have a page on developing a reference for an  APA journal . Need other source types? Check out the other helpful pages on EasyBib.com.
  • Annotations should be kept short and are usually not more than one paragraph.
  • For more information on writing an annotation, visit the general  annotated bibliography guide .

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

  • Quick APA formatting guidelines

Annotation example

Visual example, using the easybib annotation tool, troubleshooting, quick  apa  formatting guidelines:.

  • Use 1-inch page margins on all sides.
  • The entire page should be double-spaced.
  • Title your page, “Annotated Bibliography”. Center and bold it.
  • Left-align references. If a reference runs over more than one line, any line(s) that comes after the first should be indented a ½ inch from the left margin.
  • Organize your references alphabetically by the first word in the reference. (See further details in this  APA Reference Page  guide).
  • Add the annotations on the line right after their corresponding reference.
  • Indent annotations ½ inch from the left margin.
  • Include a page number in the upper right corner; if this is a professional paper, it should be a running head.

For an annotated bibliography APA example, we’re using the same description as above. The only thing we’re going to change is the structure of the reference. For an APA bibliography, the reference needs to be an  APA citation , and the description can be formed the same way as above.

Here’s what the  APA book citation  for  The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase  looks like:

Forsyth, M. (2014).  The elements of eloquence: Secrets of the perfect turn of phrase.  Penguin Books.

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

annotated bib example

The EasyBib citation generator has an annotation tool that can help you easily add your annotation to a citation.

  • To do this, begin creating a citation in the EasyBib citation generator. Already have a citation on EasyBib.com? Go to the citation, open your citation options and select “Edit citation.”
  • Once you get to the citation form (where you review found information), scroll to the bottom until you see the sections “More options.”
  • Under that section, click on the “Add annotation” link to open the annotation box.
  • Copy and paste your annotation into the box.
  • Complete your citation.
  • Your annotation will automatically be included and formatted with your citation. You can copy and paste directly into your paper!

Annotated bibliography tool

Again, even though the APA style does not support the creation of bibliographies that include annotations, many schools and professors expect their students to include summaries or commentary alongside their citations in APA style.

Solution #1: How to write an annotation

Annotations are brief paragraph summaries of your source and may include details about how you plan to use the information in your paper, or the quality of information in your source. Take these steps:

  • Read through the source.
  • Identify the main thesis theme of the source then consider how you would summarize the article and its purpose in one sentence.
  • Evaluate the source. Is the author(s) qualified? Is the source and its arguments credible? Well-written? Why or why not?
  • How does the source relate to your paper?
  • Write your annotation based on the above steps. Choose only the points that would most help you or your reader gain an understanding of the source and its significance.

Here are writing tips:

  • Avoid describing every event, statistic, or detail that occurs in your source.
  • Focus on details that are relevant to your topic or your paper. Help the reader understand why the source was selected and is importance.
  • Think about how the information impacts your perspective, how it contributes to your topic, and the effect on your overall paper.

Annotated paragraph example:

Solution #2: How to correctly format an annotation with multiple paragraphs

  • Indent the entire annotated paragraph at ½ of an inch. When done correctly, the left edge of the annotated paragraph will look entirely straight, as in the first example below.
  • If there are multiple paragraphs, follow step one but use a second 0.5-inch indention on the second and following paragraphs.
  • Avoid indenting the paragraph at 0.5 inch like a regular essay paragraph, as shown in the third example.

Single annotated paragraph example:

Multiple annotated paragraphs example:

In his novel, “A True Story of John Doe,” Samuel Smith outlines his life through the eyes of a fictional character. His recollection outlines the immigrant experience and demonstrates how modern life in England came to be.

          Chapters two and three outline the novelty of moving to a new location by describing the eventual progression to culture shock. Smith describes life as beautiful and wonderous in chapter two by emphasizing sensory experiences. However, in chapter three, he slowly gains awareness of the differences between his current and previous lives and of how the locals treat him. Smith nullifies the sensory experiences and, instead, focuses on the depth of the human emotion. I intend to use this source to compare to my own experience as an immigrant.

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

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To create an annotated APA bibliography, follow the below recommendations:

  • Order your reference entries in alphabetical order similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.
  • If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a new paragraph below the reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

For example:

Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35 (1), 61–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2012.739467 Lim focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in creating our understanding of what thinking and rationality are.

To format an annotated bibliography in APA, follow the recommendations given below:

  • Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins as 1 inch.
  • Use double-line spacing.
  • Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.
  • The title should be aligned to the center of the page.
  • As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.
  • Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.

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Creating an Annotated Bibliography in APA Style

Definitions.

A bibliography is a list of source material, cited in whatever citation style you're required to use in a specific course.

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.

Put the two together and you have an Annotated Bibliography !

An annotated bibliography is an organizational tool . an annotated bibliography....

  • Is an alphabetical list of all of your source material
  • Includes sources you may or may not use in your research
  • Summarizes each resource so you can remember what it's about
  • Can include any type of resource unless specified in the assignment instructions (For an overview of the types of resources you can find through our library, view our description of resource types on our Evaluating Sources guide .)

Why must you do an Annotated Bibliography?

  • If you're utilizing print resources through the library, you may not be able to renew items. How will you remember what the resource was about if you have to send it back?
  • If you're utilizing electronic resources, nothing online is permanent. How will you find the resource again if it disappears?
  • In larger projects, every resource starts to look the same. An Annotated Bibliography can save you time by reminding you of what you've already found.

What types of resources are used?

An Annotated Bibliography can include any type of resource unless otherwise specified by the assignment. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • Scholarly materials
  • Government documents

Annotated Bibliographies can be a great resource for students before they write other types of assignments, like literature reviews . 

There are TWO PARTS to each entry in an Annotated Bibliography. They are:

  • The citation of the resource , in whatever citation style you're required to use.
  • The annotation describing the contents of the resource and how it may or may not contribute to your research.

Be sure to carefully read over the assignment instructions when you're asked to compose an Annotated Bibliography, and reach out to your professor with any questions!

Citation Help

Consult your course style guide to confirm the accuracy of your citation. 

You can also...

  • View our guide for  APA Style Help .
  • Consult resources like Academic Writer  or  Grammarly .

Skimming Sources

Focus on key areas of a text to learn enough so that you can write a strong annotation. This includes:

  • Abstracts, prefaces, and summaries
  • Paragraph headings
  • Charts/graphs/images and their captions
  • Introduction paragraph(s)
  • Conclusion paragraph(s)
  • Sources/References/Bibliography

These areas will provide you with enough information to determine the topic, arguments, and conclusions drawn from any research presented.

Writing Annotations

A strong annotation will have three main parts:

Length requirements can vary from a few sentences to a single paragraph or a full page. Be sure to verify length requirements with your professor and/or through the assignment instructions.

When writing the summary, ask yourself:

  • What topics are covered in the resource?
  • What are the main arguments?
  • What are the main conclusions drawn from the resource?

When writing the assessment, ask yourself:

  • Is the source useful?
  • How does it compare to your other resources?
  • Is there bias present?
  • Is the source reliable?

Our guide for Evaluating Your Sources can help you assess your research material.

When writing the reflection, ask yourself:

  • How does the source fit into your research?
  • How might the source support your argument?
  • Did the source change your mind about the topic?

Sample APA Style citation with annotation:

Bell, C., & Holder, M. (2019, January/February). The Interrelationship between Race, Social Norms, and Dietary Behaviors among College-attending

Women. American Journal of Health Behavior , 43 (1), 23-36.

This article examines a study conducted to compare racial identity and dietary habits of women on college campuses. The findings of the

study found that women with perceived differences and social/family norms were more likely to develop unhealthy dietary habits in college,

most specifically related to fruit and vegetable consumption. This resource is useful because it examines self-perception of race and how that

can impact behavior in ways that influence one's health in the future.

View a full example in APA Style:

  • Annotated Bibliography Example- APA Style A full Annotated Bibliography formatted in APA Style. Users, please verify that formatting matches your course style guide's requirements.
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Creating an Annotated Bibliography

  • What is an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an Annotation

Formatting an annotated bibliography.

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  • Creating an Annotated Bibliography Video

Components of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an APA reference list that includes a brief summary and analysis -- the annotation --  under the reference entry.  

An annotated bibliography includes:

  • APA Title page
  • Pages are numbered beginning with title page
  • References centered and bolded at top of page
  • Entries listed in alphabetical order
  • Annotations begin under its associated reference
  • Annotations are indented 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • The entire document is double spaced; no extra space between entries

Example of an annotated bibliography entry:

annotated bib example

An  an n otated bibliography is composed of the full APA reference for a source followed by notes and commentary about that so urce. T he word  “annotate” means “critical or explanatory notes” and the word “bibliography” means “a list of sources”.  Annotation s are meant to be critical in addition to being descriptive.

Annotations are generally between five to seven sentences in length and appear directly under the APA reference.  The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inch from the left margin and lines up with the hanging indent of the APA reference.

Use the question prompts below as a guide when writing annotations:

• 2 to 4 sentences to  summarize   the main idea(s) of the source.

     - What are the main arguments?

     - What is the point of this book/article?

     - What topics are covered?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  assess   and  evaluate   the source.

     - How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?

     - Is this information reliable? current?

     - Is the author credible? have the background to write on this topic?

     - Is the source objective or biased?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  reflect   on the source.

     - Was this source helpful to you?

     - How can you use this source for your research project?

     - Has it changed how you think about your topic?

  • a title page, and
  • the annotated bibliography which begins on its own page with the word References bolded and centered at the top of the page.

Each entry begins with an APA reference for the resource with the annotation appearing directly beneath. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

Entries are listed in alphabetical order. The entire document is typed on one of the six approved font styles and sizes and is double spaced.  There is no additional space between entires.

Consider using Academic Writer or NoodleTools to create and format your annotated bibliography.  

annotated bib example

APA Citation Style Resources and Tools

Apa academic writer.

Use the tools in the  References tab to create APA references for the resources in your annotated bibliography.  The form includes a text box for your annotation.  You can create your title page and assemble your annotated bibliography in the Write tab in this authoritative resource.

  • APA Academic Writer This link opens in a new window Formerly APA Style Central, Academic Writer is a digital library of quick APA guides and tutorials: - Learn - view videos and tutorials, test your APA knowledge with quizzes, and view sample papers, references, tables, and figures. - Reference - view tutorials, search APA dictionaries, develop research ideas, plan and track your research, and manage your references. - Write - use templates to write papers (includes step-by-step help), and work on saved papers. (Must create a personal account to use.)

Create and format your annotated bibliography in NoodleTools .  Find information on how to create an account, create APA references, and creating and formatting an annotated bibliography in the NoodleTools Guide.

  • NoodleTools Guide

This video below provides an overview of how to create an annotated bibliography including evaluating resources, writing annotations, creating APA references, and formatting the final document in the APA style. 

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Creating an annotated bibliography in APA style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  7th edition (APA Manual) is kept behind the iDesk on the First Floor.

This example is based on the APA style guide, but your instructor might give you other formatting instructions . 

General guidelines

Some annotations are merely descriptive , summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. 

Many annotations evaluate the quality of scholarship in a book or article.  You might want to consider the logic of authors' arguments, and the quality of their evidence.  Your findings can be positive, negative, or mixed.

Your professor might also want you to explain why the source is relevant to your assignment. 

Sample Page: APA-formatted annotated bibliography

Rules! rules! rules!

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) states the following formatting rules:

  • The text and the reference list should be double-spaced.
  • Numbering starts on the title page, at the top right of the page.
  • Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
  • There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
  • Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
  • Each paragraph should be indented.

More Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library offers these instructions on preparing an annotated bibliography.

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Annotated Bibliography

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Information on Annotated Bibliographies can be found in Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.)

  • Title page, page numbers, font style and size, etc. See Format basics
  • Alphabetical with hanging indents etc. See Citations: references
  • The annotation - the notes you have about the source - appear in a new paragraph below its reference entry, indented 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • Annotated bibliography example To use as a template, open the document with Word, replace the text with your own but keep the formatting intact.
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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

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

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an enhanced list of citations that briefly summarizes each article, book, or other source of information and explains why it is important for your topic.  It can be divided into two distinct parts: the annotation and the bibliography.

  • A bibliography is a list of articles, books, and or other sources of information that have been used for researching a topic. This list is called “References” In APA format or “Works Cited” in MLA format.  All academic papers should have a bibliography that lists the sources used for its creation. 
  • An annotation is a short paragraph that summarizes a source and describes how it is relevant to your research.  To annotate literally means “to make notes.”

There is not an official format for annotated bibliographies, though usually the bibliographic citation is written in APA or MLA format.  If this is being done for a class, ask the instructor which format you should use. ​

  • Example of an Annotated Bibliography The William Morris Collection at the Archives and Rare Books Library, University of Cincinnati
  • More Examples

Example of entries on an Annotated Bibliography

Henderson, R., & Honan, E. (2008). Digital literacies in two low socioeconomic classrooms: Snapshots of practice. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, (7)2 , 85-98.

Provides snapshots of digital practices in two middle-level classrooms within low socioeconomic suburbs in Australia during one school term. Ethnographic research techniques were used to investigate (1) teachers' pedagogical approaches to using digital literacy practices with low-income students; (2) students' access to digital technologies at home and at school; and (3) how home literate practices compared to the practices valued in school. Results underscore the need to disrupt teachers' deficit views of these students' home digital literacies so that school practices can be built upon the knowledge and literacies students already have. 

(Beach et al., 2009)

Frazen, K., & Kamps, D. (2008). The utilization and effects of positive behavior support strategies on an urban school playground. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 10, 150-161. doi: 10.1177/1098300708316260.

This study examined the effectiveness of a school-wide PBS recess intervention across three grades—2 nd , 3 rd , and 4 th .  The intervention included a token economy system for following five operationally defined, positively stated school rules.  A multiple baseline design across grades was used to determine the effectiveness of the swPBS recess intervention on inappropriate behaviors.  Intervention was implemented across the three grades at staggered times.  When intervention was implemented, inappropriate behavior demonstrated a change in level for all grades and a decrease in variability for one grade (2 nd ). Trend was relatively stable across all phases for two classrooms and a slight increasing trend was observed during baseline for the 4 th grade that stabilized once the intervention was implemented. Experimental control was demonstrated when (1) baseline behavior remained consistent despite the implementation of intervention in other grades, (2) only when intervention was implemented was a change in behavior level observed, and (3) experimental control was demonstrated at three distinct points. 

(McCoy, 2015)

Why are Annotated Bibliographies useful?

An annotated bibliography demonstrates your understanding of a topic.  It's easy to add a source to a reference list and forget about it when you just need a citation, but you will read and evaluate that source more carefully when you have to write an annotation for it. Since annotations need to be more than just a summary and explain the value of each source, you are forced to think critically and develop a point of view on the topic.  Writing an annotated bibliography is a great way to start preparing a major research project because you will see what arguments have already been proposed in the literature and where your project can add something new to the larger body of work.

Reading published scholarly annotated bibliographies is an efficient method for starting research since they will provide a comprehensive overview of a topic and introduce what other researchers are saying about a topic.

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

McCoy, D. (2015). Annotated bibliography #1 behavior research methods [Class handout]. Behavior Analysis, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

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annotated bib example

Writing Annotated Bibliographies: Examples of Annotations

  • Getting Started
  • Types of Annotations
  • Selecting Sources

Examples of Annotations

Helpful guides on annotated bibliographies.

  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography (Simon Fraser University) A couple of examples in MLA and APA
  • Write an Annotated Bibliography Very nice description of the purpose and thought process of writing an annotated bibliography. Compares annotated bibliographies with literature reviews. (UC Santa Cruz University Library)
  • From Purdue OWL Excellent annotation examples using MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles
  • Scientific Misconduct: An Annotated Bibliography Descriptive annotated bibliography with carefully selected sources (Society for the Teaching of Psychology)

Books of Annotated Bibliographies

Cover Art

Example of Annotation

Notice the various types of information and evaluation provided.

annotated bib example

Example from: DeMiller, A. L. (2000). Linguistics: A guide to the reference literature . Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

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The Annotated Bibliography

annotated bib example

How to Make an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography [a list of the sources- like articles & books- referred to in a scholarly work] that gives a summary of each of the entries. The purpose of annotations is to provide the reader with a summary and an evaluation of the source. Each summary should be a concise exposition of the source's central idea(s) and give the reader a general idea of the source's content.

Source: The Free Dictionary

Contents include:

  • Summary : Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.  Who is the intended audience?
  • Assessment : After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Evaluation : Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
  • Information on the author(s) : What is the author's authority? What are their qualifications?

Source: The OWL, Annotated Bibliographies.

More Annotated Bibliography Examples:

(These are links to electronic articles/annotated bibliographies found through the UTEP Library online catalog)

Conte, S. (2015). Learning Community Literature: Annotated Bibliography. New Directions For Student Services , (149), 91-100.  Retrieved from: http://0-search.ebscohost.com.lib.utep.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=101557586&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Cox, M. B., & Faris, M. J. (2015). An Annotated Bibliography of LGBTQ Rhetorics. Present Tense: A Journal Of Rhetoric In Society , 4 (2). Retrieved from: http://www.presenttensejournal.org/volume-4/an-annotated-bibliography-of-lgbtq-rhetorics/ 

Johnson, D. E., Schroder, S. I., Erickson, J. P., & Grimes, K. N. (2008). Annotated Bibliography on the Teaching of Psychology: 2007. Teaching Of Psychology , 35 (4), 376-384. doi:10.1080/00986280802390811 Retrieved from: http://0-search.ebscohost.com.lib.utep.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=35052650&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Masschelein, A., Meurée, C., Martens, D., Vanasten, S., & Willem, G. (2014). The Literary Interview: An Annotated Bibliography. Poetics Today , 35 (1/2), 51-116. doi:10.1215/03335372-2646854 Retrieved from : http://0-poeticstoday.dukejournals.org.lib.utep.edu/content/35/1-2/51.full.pdf+html?sid=fe54194d-1a61-456d-8a75-1e22d6184258

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Annotated Bibliography Guide

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Sample Annotated Bibliography (MLA)

See tabs below for a sample Annotated Bibliography for English 101 and English 102.

annotated bib example

NOTE: The format and content of an annotated bibliography can vary; be sure to ask your instructor for specific guidelines. This example shows the standard Annotated Bibliography format for English 101 at Spartanburg Community College.

  • Sample Annotated Bibliography English 101 Sample Annotated Bibliography English 101
  • Annotated Bibliography Worksheet - ENG 101 Downloadable worksheet to help you create your Annotated Bibliography.
  • Completed Annotated Bibliography Worksheet (ENG 101) This sample worksheet will show you how to properly complete the annotated bibliography worksheet.

English 102 Sample Annotated Bibliography

NOTE: The format and content of an annotated bibliography can vary; be sure to ask your instructor for specific guidelines. This example shows the standard Annotated Bibliography format for English 102 at Spartanburg Community College.

  • ENG 102 Annotated Bibliography Instruction Module After completing this module, you should be able to evaluate a source of literary criticism for credibility and complete an Annotated Bibliography.
  • Sample Annotated Bibliography English 102 Sample Annotated Bibliography English 102
  • Annotated Bibliography Worksheet ENG 102 Downloadable worksheet to help you create your Annotated Bibliography.
  • Completed Annotated Bibliography Worksheet (ENG 102) This sample worksheet will show you how to properly complete the annotated bibliography worksheet.
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Biology 195N - Plant Hormones and Climate Change

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Understanding an Annotated Bibliography

What about formatting.

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Online Resources

  • Purdue OWL Annotated Bibliographies An explanation of annotated bibliographies from Purdue OWL, including examples in MLA, APA, and CSE styles.

What is an annotated bibliography? 

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to sources, such as books and articles. Each citation is followed by an annotation, a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, about 150 words long, that analyzes the source. An annotated bibliography usually looks like any other bibliography with alphabetized citations of sources, except that here each source is followed by an explanatory paragraph. This work can form the basis of a literature review later in the writing process. The purpose of the annotation is to inform on the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

What isn't an annotated bibliography? 

An annotation is not only a summary of the source in question. It should be a short but critical analysis as to why and how the source fits into the larger research question. An abstract functions as a summary, an annotation should be contextual to the specific topic at hand. It should be both descriptive and evaluative. 

Types of annotations: 

  • Descriptive: states the topic of the source only
  • Evaluative: evaluates the source, which may include placing the work in context of other research or evaluating its usefulness. This is the type expected for most research assignments. 
  • Summary: summarizes the source but does not take a stance or make an argument about the source.

What about formatting?

Most of the major citation styles call for a  hanging first line  on annotated bibliographies. This means the first line of the citation will align with the left margin of the page, and all subsequent lines of the citation and annotation will indent to the right.

Example of an Annotated Citation using the Ecology Journal Style

Patra, A., Park, T., Kim, M. and Yu, Z. (2017). Rumen methanogens and mitigation of methane emission by anti-methanogenic compounds and substances.   J. Anim. Sci. Biotechnol.   8 , 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40104-017-0145-9

This study reviews some of the work through 2017 identifying ruminal methanogens and the in vivo and in vitro effects of anti-methanogenic compounds. Of specific interest is the summary of evidence suggesting that archaea make up only ~10% of the ruminal microbiome (see "Overview of methanogens present in the rumen"). Also of note, this paper cites work indicating many rumen ciliate protozoa have ecto- and endo-associated methanogenic archaea (see "Methanogens associated with rumen protozoa"). However, most ruminal methanogens are "free-living" (i.e. not protozoa-associated; see "Free-living ruminal methanogens").

[ Depending on your device and browser, the proper hanging first line may or may not be visible here. ]

To export a bibliography from EndNote with this format, see " Exporting a Bibliography From EndNote " on the " EndNote Resources For Bio195N " page of this guide.

Alternatively, to create this format in Word, see 

Open Format  > Paragraph

Alternatively, highlight the text, right-click and select Paragraph .

Under Indentation , there is a drop down menu for Special options. This includes the Hanging First Line . 

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COMMENTS

  1. Annotated Bibliography Samples

    Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor's directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations. Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left. Sample MLA Annotation

  2. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    The annotated bibliography format varies based on the citation style you're using. The annotations themselves are usually between 50 and 200 words in length, typically formatted as a single paragraph. This can vary depending on the word count of the assignment, the relative length and importance of different sources, and the number of sources ...

  3. The Annotated Bibliography

    Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries. The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.

  4. Annotated Bibliography Examples for MLA & APA

    In this guide, you'll find examples of an MLA and an APA annotated bibliography. Here is an annotated bibliography example MLA annotation for the book The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by UK author and blogger Mark Forsyth: The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language ...

  5. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography, With Examples

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

  6. Annotated Bibliographies

    Definitions. A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

  7. MLA Style Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a special assignment that lists sources in a way similar to the MLA Works Cited list, but providing an annotation for each source giving extra information. You might be assigned an annotated bibliography as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment. MLA provides guidelines for writing ...

  8. Annotated Bibliographies

    Learn how to write annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE citation styles. Find out what an annotation is, what elements it should include, and how to choose the best type of annotation for your sources. See examples of annotated bibliographies for different purposes and fields of research.

  9. Annotated Bibliography

    Annotated Bibliography. An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or "annotation.". These annotations do one or more of the following: describe the content and focus of the book or article. suggest the source's usefulness to your research. evaluate its method, conclusions, or ...

  10. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100-200 words in length. ... For example: McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.

  11. Annotated Bibliography Examples & Step-by-Step Writing Guide

    Step 3: Annotated Bibliography Format. All annotated bibliographies have a title, annotation, and citation. While the annotation is the same for all, the way you create your title and citation varies based on your style. The three main bibliography styles used include MLA, APA, and Chicago. Annotated Bibliography Examples. Get examples of an ...

  12. APA Citation Guide (7th Edition): Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a References page but includes an annotation after each source cited. ... Annotated Bibliography Sample. Includes a sample of one APA annotation (from the Purdue OWL). University Libraries Annotated ...

  13. APA Annotated Bibliography Format

    Use 1-inch page margins on all sides. The entire page should be double-spaced. Title your page, "Annotated Bibliography". Center and bold it. Left-align references. If a reference runs over more than one line, any line (s) that comes after the first should be indented a ½ inch from the left margin.

  14. Examples

    Annotated Bibliographies can be a great resource for students before they write other types of assignments, like literature reviews . There are TWO PARTS to each entry in an Annotated Bibliography. They are: The citation of the resource, in whatever citation style you're required to use. The annotation describing the contents of the resource ...

  15. RasGuides: APA 7th Edition Guide: Annotated Bibliographies

    Example of an annotated bibliography entry: Writing an Annotation. An an n otated bibliography is composed of the full APA reference for a source followed by notes and commentary about that so urce. T he word "annotate" means "critical or explanatory notes" and the word "bibliography" means "a list of sources".

  16. LibGuides: Annotated Bibliography: Sample APA Annotation

    Creating an annotated bibliography in APA style. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 7th edition (APA Manual) is kept behind the iDesk on the First Floor.. This example is based on the APA style guide, but your instructor might give you other formatting instructions.. General guidelines. Some annotations are merely descriptive, summarizing the authors ...

  17. The Writing Center

    Learn what an annotated bibliography is, why you should write one, and how to write one with three types of annotations: summary, evaluation, and reflection. See sample annotations for different sources and styles. Find out what your professor wants from your annotations and how to organize them.

  18. Annotated Bibliography

    Information on Annotated Bibliographies can be found in Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) The format of your annotated bibliography follow the same format as any APA paper. Title page, page numbers, font style and size, etc. See Format basics. Alphabetical with hanging indents etc.

  19. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    An annotation is a short paragraph that summarizes a source and describes how it is relevant to your research. To annotate literally means "to make notes.". There is not an official format for annotated bibliographies, though usually the bibliographic citation is written in APA or MLA format. If this is being done for a class, ask the ...

  20. Writing Annotated Bibliographies: Examples of Annotations

    Very nice description of the purpose and thought process of writing an annotated bibliography. Compares annotated bibliographies with literature reviews. ... From Purdue OWL. Excellent annotation examples using MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles. Scientific Misconduct: An Annotated Bibliography. Descriptive annotated bibliography with ...

  21. APA Annotated Bibliography Guide With Examples

    After your APA annotated bibliography is formatted, you create a citation for each entry. The composition of your citation varies based on the type of source you are using. For example, a book citation in APA is different than a journal citation. Therefore, when creating your citation, use the format APA has designated for that specific source.

  22. Annotated Bibliography

    Annotated Bibliography - definition: A list of sources accompanied by a brief summary or critical statement about each source. Example of an Annotation. ... Sample citations using APA Style 7th edition (including sample table and figures) Interactive, pre-formatted paper templates;

  23. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a bibliography [a list of the sources- like articles & books- referred to in a scholarly work] that gives a summary of each of the entries. The purpose of annotations is to provide the reader with a summary and an evaluation of the source. Each summary should be a concise exposition of the source's central idea(s) and give the reader a general idea of the source's ...

  24. Sample Annotated Bib

    This example shows the standard Annotated Bibliography format for English 102 at Spartanburg Community College. ENG 102 Annotated Bibliography Instruction Module After completing this module, you should be able to evaluate a source of literary criticism for credibility and complete an Annotated Bibliography.

  25. Getting Started With Annotated Bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to sources, such as books and articles. Each citation is followed by an annotation, a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, about 150 words long, that analyzes the source. ... Example of an Annotated Citation using the Ecology Journal Style . Patra, A., Park, T., Kim, ...

  26. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of cited sources from books, articles, documents, or websites. Some annotated bibliography summarize a source and some evaluate or assess a source. ... The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) for the journal citation:

  27. Annotated Bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph after each citation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source cited. ... See "A Guide for Music Citation" from Indiana University Libraries for example of how to cite sources ...