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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography in Chicago/Turabian Style

Published on October 15, 2019 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 5, 2022.

While a standard Chicago style bibliography provides publication details of your sources, an annotated bibliography also provides a summary (and often an evaluation) of each source.

Turabian style , a version of Chicago style specifically designed for students and researchers, provides formatting guidelines for an annotated bibliography. A typical entry might look like this:

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

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Table of contents

How to write annotations, how to format an annotated bibliography.

The purpose of annotations is to give the reader relevant information about each source you have consulted. There are two main types of annotation.

Descriptive annotations simply describe your sources, briefly summarizing their arguments and ideas . They are useful for keeping a record of your reading and giving a quick overview of sources related to your topic. 

Evaluative annotations go into more detail and provide your own perspective on each source. For example, you may evaluate your sources by:

  • assessing the strength of the author’s arguments.
  • describing the ways in which the source is helpful or unhelpful to your own research.
  • evaluating the evidence presented in the source, discussing the credibility .

Check the requirements of your assignment to find out whether you need to write descriptive or evaluative annotations.

How long should annotations be?

Annotations can vary in length according to the approach taken and the length of the source. You may write a couple of sentences describing the argument of an essay, or several paragraphs summarizing and evaluating a book .

A good guideline is to aim for 50 to 200 words for each source. Consult your instructor to check how long your annotated bibliography should be and how many sources you need to include.

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annotated bibliography turabian style example

Each entry starts with a Chicago style citation , which gives full publication details of the source. The citation is formatted the same as a normal bibliography entry:

  • Single-spaced
  • Each line after the first indented ( hanging indent )
  • Organized in alphabetical order by author last name

The annotation appears on a new line directly after the source citation. The whole annotation is indented, to make it clear when the annotation ends and a new source appears.

According to Turabian guidelines, annotations should be formatted the same as the main text of any paper:

  • Double-spaced
  • Left-aligned
  • Indent the first line of each new paragraph

Chicago and Turabian annotated bibliography: example of an annotation

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Chicago/Turabian Citation Guide (17th Edition): Annotated Bibliography

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  • Video: What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Writing an Evaluative Annotation

Basic tips on writing and formatting, sample evaluative annotation, useful links for annotated bibliographies.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a Works Cited 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.

Types of Annotations

 A summary annotation describes the source by answering the following questions: who wrote the document, what the document discusses, when and where was the document written, why was the document produced, and how was it provided to the public. The focus is on description. 

 An evaluative annotation includes a summary as listed above but also critically assesses the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. Evaluative annotations can help you learn about your topic, develop a thesis statement, decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment, and determine if there is enough valid information available to complete your project. The focus is on description and evaluation.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • Cite the source using Chicago style.
  • Describe the main ideas, arguments, themes, theses, or methodology, and identify the intended audience.
  • Explain the author’s expertise, point of view, and any bias he/she may have.
  • Compare to other sources on the same topic that you have also cited to show similarities and differences.
  • Explain why each source is useful for your research topic and how it relates to your topic.
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each source.
  • Identify the observations or conclusions of the author. 
  • Each annotation should be one paragraph, between three to six sentences long (about 150- 200 words).
  • Start with the same format as a regular Works Cited list.
  • All lines should be double-spaced. Do not add an extra line between the citations.
  • If your list of citations is especially long, you can organize it by topic.
  • Try to be objective, and give explanations if you state any opinions.
  • Use the third person (e.g., he, she, the author) instead of the first person (e.g., I, my, me)

London, Herbert. “Five Myths of the Television Age.” Television Quarterly , 10, no. 1 (March 1982): 69-81. Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and author of several books and articles, explains how television contradicts five commonly believed ideas. He uses specific examples of events seen on television, such as the assassination of John Kennedy, to illustrate his points. His examples have been selected to contradict such truisms as: “seeing is believing”; “a picture is worth a thousand words”; and “satisfaction is its own reward.” London uses logical arguments to support his ideas which are his personal opinion. He does not refer to any previous works on the topic. London’s style and vocabulary would make the article of interest to any reader. The article clearly illustrates London’s points, but does not explore their implications leaving the reader with many unanswered questions.

Adapted from:

"How to Write Annotated Bibliographies."  Memorial University Libraries , Accessed 29 June 2016.

  • Annotated Bibliographies Overview of purpose and form of annotated bibliographies from the Purdue OWL.
  • Sample Annotated Bibliographies Sample annotated bibliographies from the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University.

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Turabian Annotated Bibliography

Turabian Annotated Bibliography at

Use of Turabian Style

The famous Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations has been elaborated for the University of Chicago by Kate Turabian. Hence, it has shared many features in common with the Chicago Manual of Style. While the most used styles (APA, MLA, and Chicago style) are employed in publications (or works which should be published), Turabian style is elaborated in order to be used by students writing research papers, master theses , PhD dissertations, etc. This style allows for using references in footnotes or endnotes (the so-called notes-bibliography style). There are some small differences between the use of references in the notes, and its use in bibliography which should be taken into consideration when you prepare your work according to the Turabian style.

Each bibliographical entry may be described in one or several short sentences; this is called annotation. To write a good annotation means that you have understood the content of the cited titles very well, and also that you are able to evaluate them critically.

If you are required to write an annotated bibliography in Turabian style, then you should follow some rules.

Turabian annotated bibliography – 6 important rules

Rule 1: cite all titles in the bibliography .

First, your Turabian annotated bibliography should contain all titles cited throughout your paper, even if you have not used direct quotations from the given sources. For example, you may simply inform your reader that a given problem has been researched by d-r A. in the book B. Then the book B should be included in your bibliography.

Rule 2: Annotate correctly

Second, when you annotate every title, you have two options: 

  • To use brief phrases (4-5 words); then add them in brackets immediately after the publication data.
  • To use full sentences; then add them on a new line, without bracketing.

Rule 3: Center “Annotated Bibliography” at the end

Third, the phrase “Annotated Bibliography” should be placed at the end of your work, centered one inch from the top of the page. After it you should present the title of your paper. As with other academic styles, the titles are put in an alphabetical order.

Rule 4: Use correct formatting

Fourth, be careful with formatting: use Times New Roman, font pt. 12. The first line of each entry should begin at the left margin. The first line of the annotation should have a hanging indentation. Every subsequent line should have a five-space indentation. You should use double space between entries, but single space within entries.

Rule 5: Distinguish between the notes style & the bibliography style

Fifth, you should distinguish between the notes style and the bibliography style. The latter uses periods instead of commas and parentheses.

Rule 6: Make the description of every title brief

Sixth, it is recommended that brief description of every title is less than five sentences, 150 words. Don’t forget that you are writing an annotated bibliography and not an abstract of each work. You may simply review (describe) the work, make critical evaluation , or combine both.

Example of Turabian annotated bibliography

Annotated bibliography example

Pragmatist approaches to epistemology

Encyclopedia Britannica , 9th ed., "Pragmatism."

        A well-written article about the philosophical movement called Pragmatism.

     Contains useful information and critical remarks.

Johanson, Arnold E. “Philosophy and the Limits of Doubt.” Ph.D. diss., Yale University,

        The author investigates the nature and the forms of doubt in classical pragmatism. A

     comprehensive and innovative PhD dissertation.

Mead, George H. The Philosophy of the Act .  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,

        A fundamental work by the founder of social psychology. According to Mead,

     thought and act exist in union. The theoretical cannot be considered separately from

     the practical.

Murphey, Murray G. “On Peirce’s Metaphysics.” Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce

      Society 1, no.1 (1965): 12-25.

        As one of the most renowned pragmatist scholars, Murphey offers a conception

     based on the assumption that Peirce’s metaphysics is the fundament of his

     pragmatism. Classical pragmatism does not turn upon epistemology, but on

     metaphysics, particularly on Peirce’s theory of categories.

Putnam, Ruth-Anna, ed. The Cambridge Companion to William James . Cambridge:

     Cambridge University Press, 1997.

        A volume devoted to William James’ thought. It contains useful insights elaborated

     by James’ scholars. A perfect book for everyone interested in classical pragmatism

     and modern epistemology.

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Annotated Bibliography

Example of an entry in an annotated bibliography, annotated bibliographies: examples for apa, mla, & chicago styles, locating other examples of annotated bibliographies, for further instructions on writing an annotated bibliography, see:.

  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Grammar & Writing
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An annotated bibliography is a list of sources on a certain topic with a brief description of each source.

Each entry in an annotated bibliography should include all the information normally included in a list of works cited. For instance, the citation for a book would include the title, author, publisher, place of publication, and year of publication. Use the appropriate bibliographic format for citations (such as MLA, APA, Turabian) as specified by your instructor.

The bibliographic information is followed by an annotation, which can be a few sentences or a lengthy paragraph that describes (or, in some cases, evaluates) the contents of the source. If you have questions about how detailed or evaluative the annotations should be, ask your instructor.

Here's an example of an entry from an annotated bibliography, with the citation of the book in Turabian style and a brief description of the book:

Garrow, David J. Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978.

Garrow describes how the strategy of protest employed by Martin Luther King, Jr., and SCLC at Selma influenced the emergence of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He contends that the choice of Selma as a site for civil rights protests and the specific tactics that SCLC adopted in Selma were part of a plan to force the introduction and passage of national voting rights legislation. The foremost consideration in this campaign was the need to elicit "unprovoked white violence aimed at peaceful and unresisting civil rights demonstrators." Garrow argues that at Selma "a strategy that bordered on nonviolent provocation supplanted the earlier belief in nonviolent persuasion." SCLC correctly assumed that police violence would generate national media coverage and this, in turn, would stimulate reactions "throughout the country, and especially Washington," leading to pressure for federal voting rights legislation.

(Example from: The Civil Rights Movement: References and Resources , by Paul T. Murray. New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1993.)

UCF's Rosen Library provides an annotated bibliography guide citing relevant sections of the style manuals and providing examples for APA, MLA and Chicago styles.

  • Rosen Research Guides, Annotated Bibliographies This guide will help you learn to write annotated bibliographies and will provide you with practical examples in the most common citation styles.

Often it is helpful to look at examples of annotated bibliographies, and the UCF Libraries have many books containing them. To find annotated bibliographies in the collection, search the UCF Library Catalog  for the phrase "annotated bibliography", including the quotation marks around the phrase.

  • On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography by Harner, James L. Call Number: General Collection Z 1001 .H33 2000 New York: Modern Language Association, 2000.
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Turabian Style (9th Ed.)

Turabian Style is a notation style (footnotes) most commonly used by writers in humanities (literature, history and the arts). The 9th edition of Turabian outlined in this guide is based on 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style and is adopted for student research papers. This format is primarily used by the History Department at UW-Whitewater and the one highlighted in this guide. Check with your professor about which version of Turabian to use for your paper.

  • Another format of Turabian is the author-date system used in social sciences. 

Turabian Format Template Document

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Example Paper & Annotated Bibliography

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Many thanks to PSCC Libraries'  excellent APA guide  for sharing much of the content and organization. 

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Sample Annotation

Annotated bibliographies.

An annotated bibliography is list of references sources (scholarly articles, books, websites, reports, etc.) on a topic or research area that contains a summary and evaluation for each listed document.

The “annotation” part pertains to the write-up produced for each source.

One approach is to use the APA empirical research article format as a tool to evaluate an article's content. Scholarly articles that present original research (empirical) will have the following structure:

Writing the Literature Review

Both videos are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Concise and straight-forward information is presented on how to approach writing a literature review. 

Web Resources for Annotated Bibliographies

  • OWL Purdue Annotated Bibliographies - Resource Guide
  • OWL Purdue Annotated Bibliographies - Samples
  • Cornell University - How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

Web Resources for Writing Literature Reviews

Below are links to resources for writing literature reviews. Hover the links to read a description of the resource. 

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education - The Literature Review: A Research Journey Excellent guide that introduces the basics of conducting a literature review in the social sciences, with a focus on education.
  • Literature Review Sample Paper - Purdue Writing Lab This sample student paper includes annotations to indicate writing techniques commonly used in literature reviews.
  • UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Guide for Literature Reviews This handout from UNC-Chapel Hill offers detailed information and tips for writing a literature review.
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Annotated Bibliography

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Chicago Style Annotations

Creating an annotated bibliography in Chicago style

Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is very similar, and is on reserve behind the IRC Desk on the Ground Floor.

General guidelines

Anno tatio ns can be merely descriptive , summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. 

Annotations can 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: Chicago-formatted annotated bibliography

Rules! rules! rules!

The Chicago Manual of Style states the following formatting rules.  Check your assignment description in case your instructor has other instructions.

  • The text should be double-spaced.
  • Numbering starts on the first page of writing ( not 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 using the tab key.

More Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library offers these examples of both APA and MLA format descriptive bibliographies.

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