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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography   Tags: annotated bibliography, bibliography, citation  

A quick guide with tips for writing annotated bibliographies
Last Updated: Jun 2, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

About Annotated Bibliographies Print Page

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

So you need to do an annotated bibliography eh? Good thing you’re not alone. Lots of students have to create them. As a matter of fact, at some point all students have to create one. Its part of that "required" thing you gotta do as a student. Thankfully, you have people. Those people just happen to have done annotated bibliographies before you knew what one was. You could say they have some experience.

The Cornell University Library has defined an annotated bibliography as:
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.

In English, this means you are creating a paragraph that others may read to get a general idea of what your sources are about. The hardest part is being concise with your information. Annotations take practice but once you get the hang of it they are easy. Here are the steps to follow:

A: Talk about the author. (1 sentence)
Is this a professor? Maybe this is a professional in the field? Or is this person a hobbyist? Tell the audience about the author in the first part of the annotation.
B: Explain what the article is about. (1-3 sentences)
Tell the audience what is in the article. This is the most difficult part of the annotation because it requires you to be very succinct. Don’t rewrite the article; just write the base facts and important notes about the article here.
C: Explain how this article illuminates your bibliography topic. (1-2 sentences)
What about this article makes it relevant to your topic? Why did you select it? What pertinent bit of information makes this article stand out among the others?
D: Compare or contrast this work with another you have cited. (1-2 sentences)
How does this specific article relate to another article in your annotated bibliography? Do they agree or not? Why not? What makes them unique?

Other Useful Sources

Here are some other sites that provide information about annotated bibliographies:

  • How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography | Cornell University Library
    Provides explanations about and examples of writing annotated bibliographies. Written by Michael Engle, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave from Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA.
  • Annotated Bibliographies | The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue
    Provides definitions about, reasons for, and formats of annotated bibliographies. Written by Dana Bisignani and Allen Brizee from The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue, Purdue University.
  • Annotated Bibliography Example | The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue
    A discussion about an example of an annotated bibliography, including thoughts to keep in mind while writing an annotation. Written by Dana Bisignani and Allen Brizee from The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue, Purdue University.
  • Annotated Bibliography Samples | The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue
    Actual samples of annotated bibliographies (in MLA, APA, and Chicago), with overview and explanation. From The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue, Purdue University.
  • Annotated Bibliographies | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    "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." From The Writing Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Annotated Bibliography | The University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Links with responses to FAQs about annotated bibliographies. From The Writer's Handbook, The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Preparing an Annotated Bibliography [PDF] | IUPUI
    "This handout is designed to show you how to create an annotated bibliography. Specifically, it will guide you through the process ... by 1. describing in general terms the meaning of the words “annotated bibliography,” 2. explaining in general terms how to write an annotated bibliography, and 3. offering an example of what an annotated bibliography could look like." From School of Liberal Arts and University Writing Center, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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