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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
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.
APA Help (7th Ed)
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- Sample Papers
Sample apa annotated bibliography, what is an annotated bibliography, purpose of an annotated bibliography, video: annotated bibliography formatting (apa 7).
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An annotated bibliography is a list of references with an added feature - a paragraph below each reference called an annotation.
An annotation may include the following information:
- Assessment (also called Evaluation )
Your instructor will explain the details she/he wants included in an annotation for a specific assignment.
The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The length of the annotations can vary depending on the purpose and your instructor's directions.
Information adapted from the Annotated Bibliographies created by the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab.
Depending on the assignment, the annotated bibliography may serve a number of purposes, including but not limited to:
- A review of the literature on a particular subject
- Illustrate the quality of research that you have done
- Provide examples of the types of sources available
- Describe other items on a topic that may be of interest to the reader
- Explore the subject for further research
Always ask your instructor what she wants you to include and if there are any formatting guidelines she would like followed.
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What is an annotated bibliography?
Preparing annotated bibliographies
- Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliographies - Why, Definitions and Format
- How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography (Cornell University Library)
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Annotated Bibliography Samples
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APA & MLA Annotated Bibliography Samples
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- APA Annotated Bibliography Sample #1 [PDF]
- MLA Annotated Bibliography Sample #1 [PDF]
- APA Annotated Bibliography Sample #2 [PDF]
- MLA Annotated Bibliography Sample #2 [PDF]
- Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliographies Provides explanations for how to write an annotated bibliography, proper formatting, and samples. From Purdue Online Writing Lab.
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MLA Example Citation
Santino, Jack. “Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances.” Western Folklore , vol. 42, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1–20. JSTOR , www.jstor.org/stable/1499461.
- MLA Template for Annotated Bib This document has placeholders and presets to adhere to the style and form of MLA. Download the template and place your content into the document. Note the instructional comments on the side of the template.
- Sample Annotated Bib: MLA From the Writing Center at UNC is a sampling of different annotation types with MLA format.
- MLA Annotated Bibliography This document has two citations separated by the annotation for each source.
- Purdue OWL: Annotated Bibliography Samples
APA Example Citation
Santino, J. “Halloween in America: Contemporary customs and performances.” Western Folklore, 42 , (1), 1983, 1–20. JSTOR , www.jstor.org/stable/1499461.
- Sample Annotated Bib: APA From the Writing Center at UNC is a sampling of different annotation types in APA format.
Chicago (CMOS) Example Citation
Santino, Jack. “Halloween in America: Contemporary Customs and Performances.” Western Folklore 42, no. 1 (1983): 1-20, www.jstor.org/stable/1499461.
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