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Answered By: Katy Webb
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2017     Views: 15871

How do you write an annotated bibliography?

There are many different ways to write annotated bibliographies. Here are some general guidelines to follow. Be sure to check your assignment or with your instructor to see if you need to follow specific guidelines for content, length or type of annotation.

First, what is an annotated bibliography?

  • It is simply a bibliography that includes brief descriptions and/or evaluations of each source (book, journal/magazine article, web page, etc.) that is cited. Citation information about the source is given first. This is followed by several sentences that describe and, in the case of a critical annotated bibliography, evaluate the source.

How does an annotation differ from an abstract?

  • An abstract is a brief, objective summary of the essential content of a book, article, speech, report, dissertation, or other work, which presents the main points in the same order as the original.
  • An annotation is a paragraph, usually no longer than several sentences, added after a citation in a bibliography to describe or explain the content or message of the work cited, or to comment on it. Annotations can be descriptive or critical or a combination of both. A descriptive annotation summarizes the scope and content of a source. An critical annotation includes a brief evaluation of the source, including an assessment of its use, value and/or significance.

What does a descriptive annotation usually include?

  • Complete bibliographic information
  • Scope and main focus or purpose of the work
  • Intended audience
  • Special features that were unique or helpful (e.g., illustrations, charts, maps, glossary, etc.)
  • Author's background and credibility
  • Relationship, if any, to other works in the area of study
  • Conclusions reached by the author

Critical annotations may also contain:

  • Assessment of the source's usefulness or relevance to your research
  • Evaluative comparison with other sources
  • Reliability or bias of the work
  • Your conclusions or observations regarding the source

How is the annotated bibliography written?

  • The bibliographic information (title, author, publication data, date, etc.) comes first. This citation should follow an accepted style guide, like APA, MLA or Turabian.
  • Annotations begin on the line following the citation information. They are written in paragraph form.
  • Annotations may be composed with complete sentences or using verb phrases.
  • Most annotations are 100-200 words in length.

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

  • It reviews the literature published on a particular topic
  • It illustrates the scope and quality of the research you have conducted
  • It provides examples of the types of sources available on a given topic
  • An annotated bibliography is often the first step in a larger research project. It can help you organize material and think about the potential use you can make of each source. Writing the annotated bibliography also helps you gain perspective on a topic and can help you identify a good research question or thesis.

Examples of annotated bibliographies can be found in these sources:

  • Examples of Annotated Bibliography Entries (from University of California, Santa Cruz)
  • Roth, Audrey, ed. The Research Paper: Process, Form, and Content. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1989. Ref LB 2369 R66
  • Walker, Melissa. Writing Research Papers: A Norton Guide. 4th ed., New York, Norton, 1997. Joyner Stacks LB 2369 W25


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