Annotated Bibliography - Here is How to Prepare One Easily

annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is often submitted before submitting a full-fledged research paper or a thesis/dissertation. For many students, finding relevant sources and then preparing a well-written annotated bibliography is hard.

Such students often look for online help. This blog has detailed the steps involved in writing a good, relevant, and well-researched annotated bibliography for their research assignment.

Moreover, we have added some easy-to-understand samples so that you learn faster and better. You can save them for quick references so that you could refer to them easily and whenever you need help with your work.

Let's get started!

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a reference list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) that have been summarized in a paragraph. An annotated bibliography might be used as a precursor to writing a research paper or as an introduction to the existing body of knowledge on a subject.

All of the sources in the cited bibliography have a citation, which is data that a reader would require to learn about the source's original publication. Citation styles are set out in one of these standard formats.

The most popular citation styles are MLA for the humanities and APA for the social sciences.

Annotations cover about 4 to 6 sentences (roughly 150 words) and focus on the following:

  • The work's main focus
  • Value or usefulness to your study's subject
  • The main features of the work that were special or beneficial
  • The author's background and reputation
  • Conclusions or points raised by the author
  • Conclusions or observations you've come to during your study

Annotated Bibliography vs. Abstract - Are they the Same?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources with accompanying descriptions. An abstract is a brief summary of a work, usually about 150-300 words long.

Annotations are helpful in understanding the text and illuminating its meaning; they may also inform the reader about the author's viewpoint, authority, clarity, and accuracy of expression. An annotation is more than a simple summary of a work. A reader should be able to determine whether or not to read the entire piece based on an annotation.

An abstract, on the other hand, is a brief summary of a work. It provides the essential information contained in the work but does not include evaluation or opinion. An abstract is meant to be a standalone description of a work, and should not contain citations.

An annotated bibliography, then, is a blend of the two: a list of sources with accompanying descriptions. The description may include an evaluation or opinion, and it may be brief or long. In general, an annotation is about three-six sentences (about 150-300 words) long.

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Types of Annotated Bibliography

Here are the main types of an annotated bibliography;

  • Indicative/Descriptive Annotations

    Descriptive or predictive annotations do just that, as the name implies: they describe the source. They explain the origin of the material. Indicative annotations offer a detailed overview of the source and argument.

    Take a look at how this MLA indicative annotation works in practice.

    Zachs, Mitch. The Little Book of Stock Market Profits. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

    This book looks at a number of methods employed in the stock market throughout history to enhance performance. “Understanding the Markets” is one of the most important chapters, followed by “Using Profits to Achieve Your Elusive Goals,” and “The Difficulty of Investing.”

  • Informative/Summary Annotations

    Annotations are a great way to add context and enhance the meaning of your notes. Annotations, by themselves, provide just a high-level summary of your different sources. Within them, you should describe the primary arguments or points as well as the numerous topics covered. This is where you explain why this source was essential in making your list.

    Take a look at the example below.

    Doerr, John. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs. Penguin. 2018.

    Doerr is the chair of a venture capital company, and this book is by him. The book explains how a business organization may use OKRs to focus a company's attention on agility, resulting in exponential development. These are first-person accounts from executives such as Bill Gates. This book aids in the comprehension of corporate management techniques that enable large businesses.

  • Evaluation Annotations

    You may take it a step further by assessing the source, or you might simply summarize it. To do so, compare and contrast it. What made this one acceptable? Provide an explanation of the source's main aim and how well it fits into your essay. You should also evaluate the information's trustworthiness and any possible prejudice. Like in this example.

    Wilson, John Philip. When the Texans Come: Missing Records from the Civil War in the Southwest. UNM Press, 2001.

    The author, a historian-archeologist, uses primary resources such as original letters, song lyrics, and casualty lists to create an interesting narrative of the Civil War. The author analyzes first-hand accounts and original newspaper reports to comprehend the engagements conducted during the Civil War.

    In addition to taking you through the most significant conflicts, The Western Front follows you through the minor ones that occurred throughout the west in order to give a clear picture of the war. While it's fascinating to see the conflict from a new perspective, it has shortcomings owing to its panoramic view of the whole war.

  • Combination Annotations

    Although there are traditional rules for the structure of annotations, you may use them interchangeably.

    You can include all three sorts of annotations in your annotated bibliography. For example, you might describe and summarize the work in a few paragraphs before ending with an assessment.

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Annotated Bibliography Format

There is no one correct format for an annotated bibliography, although most follow the general format of a list of citations followed by descriptions.

The length of each annotation varies depending on the source and purpose, but they are generally about four to six sentences (roughly 150-300 words).

Annotations can be written in either paragraph form or as a list of bullet points. In general, annotations should be written in your own words, but if you do use quotes from the source, be sure to put them in quotation marks and cite the source.

When writing an annotation, start with a citation in the appropriate format for your field (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). After the citation, write a brief description of the source. This should include a summary of the work's main points, as well as your evaluation or opinion.

If you are writing an annotated bibliography for a class, you may be asked to adhere to a specific format. Check with your instructor before beginning your project.

APA Annotated Bibliography Format

The format of an APA annotated bibliography is:

  • Citation in proper APA format
  • Brief description of the source (usually about 150 words)
  • Evaluation or opinion of the work

Here is an example of an APA citation;

D’Elia, G., Jorgensen, C., Woelfel, J., & Rodger, E. J. (2002). The impact of the Internet on public library use: An analysis of the current consumer market for library and Internet services. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53(10), 808-820.

In this study, the researchers sought to determine whether the Internet had affected the usage of public libraries in the United States. Because of this, this research features participants who aren't regular library users as well as those that are. The primary conclusion was that 75.2 percent of individuals who used the Internet visited a public library.

However, only 3000 individuals were surveyed in a population of millions; as a result, these findings may not be statistically valid. This study is useful because it offers a method for estimating the impact of the Internet on public library use that can be used by future researchers.

MLA Annotated Bibliography Format

The format of an MLA annotated bibliography is:

  • Citation in proper MLA format
  • Brief description of the source (usually about 150 words)
  • Evaluation or opinion of the work

Here is an example of an MLA citation:

Lozier, Jeffrey D., et al. "Predicting the Distribution of Sasquatch in western North America: Anything Goes with Ecological Niche Modeling." Journal of Biogeography, vol. 36, no.9, 2009, pp. 1623-1627. JSTOR, Accessed 14 June 2016.

This paper examines the transmission of the mythical Sasquatch, based on sightings from an online Bigfoot archive, using Ecological Niche Models (ENM). In contrast to other essays that have gone before it, Lozier's work brilliantly demonstrates the problems ENM faces as reports come from non-specialists, and it emphasizes key concerns with data gathering from unmediated online environments.

However, the document does not evaluate the consistency of various animal records against the single Bigfoot database, as well as other important questions; nevertheless, in conclusion, it alludes to a number of issues that are too lengthy for this essay.

In Lozier's paper, experts in fields that utilize ENM are advised to thoroughly analyze the data on which the model is based and determine whether it accurately reflects reality. The distribution of rare species, in particular, is frequently overstated to misidentification, according to his study.

Chicago Style Annotated Bibliography Format

The format of a Chicago Manual of Style annotated bibliography is:

  • Citation in proper Chicago Manual of Style format
  • Brief description of the source (usually about 150 words)
  • Evaluation or opinion of the work

Here is an example of a Chicago Manual of Style citation for a book:

Battle, Ken. "Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits." In A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada, edited by Katherine Covell and Howe, R. Brian, 21-44. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007.

Mr. Battle draws on a deep study of government records, as well as his own research as an established policy analyst, to explain Canada's child benefit programs. He makes some basic premises supporting the notion that all society members should contribute to the raising of children.

His analysis of child poverty rates in several countries is a wake-up call for anybody who thinks Canadian society is doing an effective job of defending kids. Battle focuses on the National Child Benefit (NCB), which he believes did not warrant the criticism it has received from politicians and writers.

He also discusses the NCB's origins, expenses, and benefits, while lamenting that the current Conservative administration cut it down in favor of the less effective Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).

However, he is too reliant on his own work; almost half of the sources in his bibliography are written by him alone or primarily. He might improve this task by incorporating other people's views and analyses.

The chapter, on the other hand, provides a useful source for my essay since it summarizes the many government-sponsored assistance now accessible to parents. This contextualizes Canada's level and financial status of child poverty.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a working list of references—books, articles, Web sites, etc.—with brief descriptions of each item. It’s a great way to keep track of sources as you conduct research, and it can also help you write papers by giving you a quick overview of what each source covers.

There are different ways to write an annotated bibliography, but typically each reference includes the following information:

  • Author
  • Title of source
  • Publisher
  • Date of publication
  • Pages or length
  • URL (if available)

Here are the detailed steps to prepare a well-researched annotated bibliography;

  1. 1. Choose Your Topic

    Before you start researching, you need to choose a topic. If you’re struggling to come up with one, try browsing the Internet or your school’s library for topics that interest you.

  2. 2. Find Sources

    Once you have a topic, it’s time to start finding sources. Try looking for books, articles, and Web sites that deal with your topic. Be sure to take notes on the information you find so you can use it in your annotated bibliography.

  3. 3. Write a Summary

    Evaluate the source and for each source, write a brief summary of the source that includes the author, title, and main points of the source.

  4. 4. Write Your Annotations

    Now it’s time to write your annotations. This is where you explain why you included each source in your bibliography and what you plan to use it for. You may also want to include brief critical thoughts on each source.

  5. 5. Organize Your References

    Once you’ve written summaries and annotations for all of your sources, it’s time to organize them. There are many different ways to do this, but a common approach is to alphabetize them by the author's last name.

  6. 6. Check Your Work

    Finally, be sure to check your work for mistakes. You don’t want to turn in a sloppy annotated bibliography!

    An annotated bibliography is an important part of any research project. It can help you keep track of all the sources you’ve found, and it can also help you write your paper by giving you a quick overview of what each source covers.

    Use proper and complete sentences in the assignment and make sure that it is free from all kinds of errors.

    By following the steps outlined above, you can create a well-researched and accurate annotated bibliography.

    Here are some downloadable annotated bibliography examples;

MLA Annotated Bibliography Sample (PDF)

MLA Annotated Bibliography Sample

APA Annotated Bibliography Sample (PDF)

APA Annotated Bibliography Sample

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Annotated Bibliography Topics

Here are some good topics to compose your annotated bibliography;

  • The impact of social media on the academic process.
  • The impact of technology on the academic process.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using online resources in academic research.
  • The use of collaborative tools in the academic world.
  • The influence of new technologies on traditional teaching methods.
  • The challenges of keeping up with technology as a student.
  • The importance of information literacy in the academic world.
  • The use of academic libraries in the digital age.
  • The changing role of professors in the online learning environment.
  • The future of higher education in the digital age.

Writing an annotated bibliography is different from writing an essay or any other writing assignment. This blog has answered the common questions related to annotated bibliography writing. In case you still need help, contact us any time.