Annotated Bibliography Guide: Sample Annotated Bibliographies
- Definition and Formats
- Elements of Annotation
- Sample Annotated Bibliographies
SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE ( From the Cornell Libraries )
The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation. NOTE: APA requires double spacing within citations.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.
This example uses the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.
- Sample Annotated Bibliography from Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences From Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
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APA Style, 7th Edition
- Sample Papers & How to Videos
- Reference Components
- Evaluating a Website
- Journal Articles
- Newspaper Articles
- Magazine Articles
- Reviews (Book, Film, Video)
- Films (DVD / Blu-Ray / Streaming)
- Online Videos (e.g. YouTube, TED)
- Films on Demand
- Television Episodes
- Music Recordings
- Webpages / Web Documents
- Entire Websites
- Entries in Online Encyclopedias
- Government Reports
- Online Maps
- Online Lecture Notes or PowerPoint Slides
- Press Releases
- Film or Video Review
- eBooks (Electronic Book)
- Book with and Editor
- Edition of Books Other than First Edition
- Chapter in an Edited Book
- Entries in a Reference Book
- Entries in an Online Encyclopedia
- Foreign Language Books
- Illustrated Book
- Sacred Text
- The Generic Reference
- Personal Communication
- Class Materials
- Poster Sessions
- Theses & Dissertations
- Court Decision
- Executive Orders
- Charter of the United Nations
- In-Text Citations Components
- Parenthetical Citations
- Narrative Citations
- Combining Citations
- Annotated Bibliography
- Additional APA Resources
- APA for PowerPoint Presentations
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a References 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 does the document discuss, 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.
Writing an Evaluative Annotation
- Cite the source using APA 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.
Basic Tips on Writing & Formatting
- Each annotation should be one paragraph, between three to six sentences long (about 150- 200 words).
- Start with the same format as a regular References 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)
Annotated bibliographies are formated in the method below.
Use a hanging indent for any references that are longer than one line.
The text of the annotation (where you explain who wrote the article, what they found, and why it is relevant to your paper) goes in a paragraph that has been indented directly below the reference entry.
Johnston, M.P. (2013). School librarian & technology specialist: Partnership for effective technology integration. Knowledge Quest , 42 (1), 70-75. https://search.proquest.com/pq1academic/docview/1437351950/fulltextPDF/1DC0CBB38D6D4A9BPQ/1?accountid=131931
Written by an assistant professor of library and information science and based on her personal experience, observations, and evidence-based research, this article attempts to cement the necessity for open communication between the school librarian and technology specialist. A cohesive relationship with mutual support proves to be a better way for the educational world to navigate the productive use of technology. If librarians and technology specialists are at odds within a school, then the only ones that suffer are the teachers and the students. A cohesive team of media specialists can better serve the school while teaching and integrating new technology in the classroom. Productivity for media specialists, both librarians, and technology specialists, also demands working cohesively with classroom teachers since many need assistance with technology integration. Open communication and consideration are integral to this process and only when these two factors happen in tandem can a school fully realize the possibilities inherent in technology.
Moreillon, J., (2013). Leadership: Teaching digital citizenship. School Library Monthly , 30 (1), 26-27. https://search.proquest.com/pq1academic/docview/1509041319/fulltextPDF/9EBD0EE04754444EPQ/1?accountid=131931
Written by an assistant professor of library and information studies in Texas, this article focuses on digital citizenship. The information, from the author’s personal observations and through discussions with colleagues, highlights the tools librarians currently use to increase their digital clout and technological presence within a school setting and recommends other tools that are potentially available. The author surmises that teaching digital citizenship purposefully helps integrate the correct use of technology while following standards set by the Common Core State Standards. Being advocates for teaching staff and students about digital citizenship acutely brings to focus the need for informed library specialists and the need for adequate technology resources. The author recommends fostering a proactive community in order to help students and staff become informed digital citizens prepared to navigate the wide world of technology.
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / Citation Basics / Annotated Bibliography Format & Examples
Annotated Bibliography Format & Examples
A complete guide to the mla & apa annotated bibliography.
If you’ve just received an assignment that requires an MLA or APA annotated bibliography, you may be wondering where to start. This guide will help answer all of your questions and includes step-by-step instructions on how to do an annotated bibliography in MLA style, as well as an APA annotated bibliography. You will also find sample annotated bibliographies, real-life examples, and opportunities to practice what you have learned.
The MLA ( Modern Language Association ) and APA (American Psychological Association) are not associated with this guide. All of the information provided here, however, offers direction for students and researchers who use these citation styles in their work.
The structures and annotated bibliography templates on this page were created by the in-house librarians at EasyBib.com.
If you’re simply looking for an example of an annotated bibliography (both in MLA format and APA format), scroll down toward the bottom of the page. We’ve included links to visuals for those of you who need help with the structure and styling of an annotated bibliography. If you’re looking for a variety of annotated bibliography topics, and you’re truly searching for the answer to, “What is an annotated bibliography?” then continue reading!
Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:
Table of contents
What is an annotated bibliography, annotations vs. abstract, why include annotations.
- Step 1: Analyze your sources
Step 2: Write the descriptions
- Step 3a: Formatting an MLA style annotated bibliography
- Step 3b: Formatting an APA style annotated bibliography
Annotated Bibliography Templates
Using the easybib annotation tool.
A bibliography is a complete list of the sources that were used to complete a research paper or project.
Depending on the style guide you follow, you may also see this called a Works Cited (also called an MLA bibliography) or Reference List (APA format). Each listed source, or citation , shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other details that serve to credit the original authors whose work informed your research. These details also help other students and researchers find and read the source materials.
When your research is related to a scholastic assignment, you should always verify your instructor’s requirements for the types and number of sources to include, as well as the style you should adhere to when formatting your paper and bibliography.
An MLA annotated bibliography and an APA format annotated bibliography are bibliographies that include a concise explanation, or annotation , of each listed source. Depending on the assignment, this annotation may be solely descriptive, or analytical.
An abstract and annotation should not be confused; they differ in both their substance as well as their placement in a paper.
- Usually found in bibliographies at the end of a paper
- Are subjective
- Purpose is to summarize and evaluate . It should briefly communicate the work’s main point, but also discuss the background of the author or study, and the strengths/weaknesses of the work.
- Usually found in journal databases or the beginning of a paper
- Are objective
- Purpose is to summarize . It should provide a short overview of the article and communicate the main points and themes.
If you would like to learn more , this link further explores the difference between an abstract and an annotation.
This resource provides additional information on how to write a bibliography with annotations in other formats. You can also take advantage of the plagiarism checker and bibliography tools that come with EasyBib Plus to help you create your reference lists.
Before you learn how to make an annotated bibliography, you may be wondering why you need to.
Sometimes instructors want you to create and include annotations in your bibliography, either as part of an assignment or as an assignment unto itself. Understanding the purpose of this approach to your reference list can help to ensure that you gain all of the benefits that the annotated bibliography process provides.
As a student, this method will help you develop or hone your research skills, providing you with practice not only in locating sources but also in analyzing and evaluating them for relevance and quality.
Your instructor will gain insight into your research abilities, as well, allowing them to assess your work more thoroughly. If you plan to publish your research, this comprehensive approach to detailing your sources will provide readers and other researchers with a substantial directory of resources to evaluate for their own work.
Whether you’re publishing or submitting your annotated bibliography, make sure your spelling and wording is correct! If you need to brush up on any parts of speech topics, check out our interjection , determiner , and adverb pages!
Step 1: Analyze your sources
Each annotation should be a summarization or analysis of your source. If you have been tasked with writing annotations as part of a research paper or project, begin to create both the citation and notes on the source while you identify and analyze your sources.
Not only will this approach help you to hone your research skills and identify sources that are relevant and useful for your topic, but you will also save time. When done in this manner, both your citations and annotations will be nearly complete before you begin to write the body of your paper.
Analyzing your potential sources requires a two-pronged approach that first evaluates the author, publication, and date, and then examines the content.
When conducting your initial assessment of the source, consider some of the following questions to guide your appraisal:
- What qualifies the author to write on this subject?
- Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution in this field?
- Is the author credentialed or otherwise considered an expert in this field?
- Is this source current?
- Is this the most recent edition?
- Is the publisher reputable?
- Is the journal reputable?
Once your primary evaluation is complete, you will move on the assessing the content itself. Consider some of these elements as you review each source:
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the author presenting her opinion or interpretation as the truth, or stating facts?
- What supporting evidence does the author provide?
- Did the author perform the research, or curate and present the research of others?
- If the author used the research of others, are the sources the author cites credible?
- Are there errors or omissions of fact?
- Is the author writing objectively and without bias?
Also, consider the value each source provides to you:
- Is the information helpful for your particular assignment?
- Does it help answer your research question(s)?
- Is this source different from your other sources, or does it repeat information you already have?
- Is the source providing you with a different perspective on your topic, or changing your beliefs or thinking about your subject?
To make it easier for you to create your reference page, write your notes in the format you will be using when you construct this part of the assignment (for instance, as short phrases or complete sentences). Once you have identified all of the sources you wish to include, you will merely need to insert what you have already written on the page and write your citation, which is explained in the next section.
Click here for additional information and a supplementary annotated bibliography sample. For an MLA bibliography example (with annotations), check out our visual example of an MLA annotated bibliography .
An annotated bibliography entry may be written either as short phrases or complete sentences. Your instructor will advise you of which approach you are required to take.
Annotations should include either:
- The main points from the source, as well as the topics covered, the approach used, and any findings.
- Or your critical evaluation.
- A standard annotation is approximately one paragraph.
- Take care not to include any unnecessary details, as the goal is to summarize each source as succinctly as possible and, in some cases, evaluate them.
- Your field of study or instructor will determine what format your annotated bibliography will use. In this guide, you’ll find examples of an MLA and an APA annotated bibliography.
Here is an annotated bibliography example MLA annotation for the book The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by UK author and blogger Mark Forsyth:
The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.
Notice how the annotated bibliography MLA entry above is descriptive enough so the reader has an idea of what the source is about with just a single paragraph. For more information on annotations, check out this informative site . If you’re looking to strengthen your writing in general, reading these grammar guides could be a good start.
For guidance on creating entries in MLA format , APA format , and more styles , check out the EasyBib library of resources or try the EasyBib annotation tool—we talk about it below!
Step 3a: MLA annotated bibliography format
The MLA Style Center and the current edition of the MLA Handbook provide the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography:
- Title your reference page as “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
- Place each annotation after its reference.
- Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.
- Annotations should be indented one inch from the start of your citation.
- Double-space all text on the page.
- 1-inch margins around the page.
Sources in an annotated bibliography can be organized alphabetically by the first word in each reference (as with a normal Works Cited page), by publication date, or by subject.
For a visual example of an annotated bibliography, as well as specific annotation examples, visit the MLA annotated bibliography guide .
If you are required to share your references in a manner other than in MLA bibliography format, the EasyBib style guides can help you with many common styles. While you’re at it, check out their conjunction , preposition , and pronoun pages to help keep your paper in mint condition!
Step 3b: APA annotated bibliography format
The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but asks that the bibliography be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual ). If your teacher has requested an APA formatted annotated bibliography, first ask them for guidelines. Otherwise, here are some quick rules for you to follow:
- Double space all text on the page.
- Title your page “Annotated Bibliogra phy”. Bold and center the title.
- Organize references alphabetically by the first word of each reference.
- Only the first line of a ref erence is flush with the left margin. Any other lines after the first line should be indented ½ inch from the left.
- Add annotations on the next line after their paired reference.
- Fully indent annotations by a ½ inch from the left.
- Keep annotations short. No more than one paragraph.
For examples of a properly formatted APA annotation, visit this guide on APA annotated bibliographies .
In comparison to the sample annotated bibliography MLA, the APA sample formats its page elements and references differently.
Students and researchers who type their research notes can save time by using an annotated bibliography template in MLA format while reviewing and analyzing sources. By adding the relevant information into a pre-formatted template, you’ll create a resource that helps you when you begin writing your paper in addition to saving time by completing your references and summaries alongside your research.
Students who prefer to take notes by hand can employ a modified version of this approach, with an additional step required to transfer your handwritten and formatted references from your notebook to populate your reference page.
Bibliography Template for MLA
To create an annotated bibliography MLA template, copy the following details into the program in which you will take notes or hand write it on the top margin of a page in your notebook. For each source, use this template to guide you as you identify the necessary details and insert them into your notes:
- Author (Last name, First name).
- Title of source.
- Title of the container ,
- Other contributors (names and roles),
- Publication Date,
- Location of the source (such as URL or page range).
- Summary or Analysis.
The MLA 9 model for MLA works cited entries offers a single format for all source type, and a great deal of flexibility to include the information most relevant to your topic and omit that which isn’t.
Hopefully our visual annotated bibliography example in MLA above has helped. If you still have lingering questions, visit the MLA Style Center online ( linked here ). Also, here’s a guide if you’re looking for more on the related topic of MLA in-text & parenthetical citations .
Bibliography Template for APA
Students and researchers who are still asking themselves how to piece together an annotated bibliography, or still questioning what is an annotated bibliography, could probably benefit from a template, similar to the one above. This one, however, is for those of you who are tasked with creating an annotated bibliography in the style created by the American Psychological Association.
The tricky thing about this specific style though, is that every reference is styled differently. Books, websites, journal articles, newspaper articles, and many others each have their own reference structure.
For most sources though, you should look for the following, basic information:
- Type of source
- Author (last name, first name)
- Title of source/article/web page, etc.
- Title of where source was found (e.g., database name, website name, etc.)
- Other contributors (names and roles)
- Location of the source (such as URL, DOI, or page range)
- Summary or Analysis
We understand it can get tricky, and it’s very different from the Modern Language Association’s structure for references. Take a moment to either use the other handy guides on EasyBib.com or use our automatic generator to form your references in just a few clicks. Our tools help take the pain away from having to rack your brain to form references properly. Capitals, lowercase letters, italics, quotation marks, punctuation in the appropriate places, it can all be quite overwhelming. Do yourself a favor, and use the EasyBib automatic citation generator.
Even though there are a lot of different variations, here’s a commonly used structure for sources:
Author’s Last Name, First initial, Middle initial. (Year the source was published). Title of the source . Retrieved from (insert the website address here)
Underneath the reference, include your summary or analysis paragraph.
Hopefully, this page helped answer all of your “What is an annotated bibliography?” questions. If you’re seeking out an annotated bibliography generator, follow the steps above the annotated bibliography examples.
Looking for additional help with other related topics? Don’t forget about the various beneficial guides on EasyBib.com! Our APA in-text citation guide and our APA parenthetical citation guide are two of our most popular pages. Learn the ins and outs of referencing your work in the body of your paper with our thorough, complete, and reader-friendly guides.
If you are creating a bibliography in MLA format, the EasyBib MLA bibliography generator can help save you time formatting your citations and annotations correctly. You can create entries for websites, books, videos, databases, dictionary articles, and many other types of sources.
In addition to forming the citations, you can also enter your annotation text to produce the complete entry for each source. The process for this is simple. You can follow along below to practice creating one:
- First, select your source type from among the 50+ available options. For this example, we will use the acting career of Keanu Reeves as our research topic and use the movie Point Break from 1991 as our first source. To cite this film, you would select the option for “Film/Online Video.” As you follow along, pick the option that is suitable for your source if you are using a different example.
- Enter the title of your source or, if you are citing a website, you may enter the URL. (Now would be a great time to peek at how to cite websites in MLA ). After you enter the title or URL for your reference, the EasyBib citation tool will scan for titles that match it and provide you with a list of results. Select “Cite this” next to the listing that matches your source.
- You will see a citation form. This gives you the option to add additional relevant or necessary information. For our sample topic, we will specifically cite Keanu Reeves as the performer and Kathryn Bigelow as the director.
- After entering any additional details, you have the option to expand your entry and include an annotation. To do so, select “Add annotation” at the bottom of the page, and a text box will open up.
Then, type your summary or analysis into the text box. If you took notes during the research stage using the format of your paper, this might be as simple as copying and pasting your already written summary or critique. Once you have entered all of the necessary information, select “Create citation” to generate the complete entry. You can then copy and paste this into your MLA bibliography.
Here’s what it’ll look like:
Point Break . Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, performance by Keanu Reeves, 20th Century Fox, 1991.
Reeves’ role as rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah in Point Break marks the turning point in his Hollywood film career. While he’d risen to fame due to the success of the Bill and Ted franchise, his status today as an action star began when Point Break provided him with the material to establish himself as capable of portraying more than the lovable but unserious characters of his previous starring roles. In a parallel arc, director Kathryn Bigelow’s career also sees a shift beginning with Point Break , establishing her within the traditional action genre as a serious director capable of creating high-action and visually memorable films. While Point Break leaves plenty to be desired in terms of dialogue, it afforded Bigelow and Reeves the opportunities to showcase themselves and their talent in new ways that still echo in their work today.
- Works Cited
Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography . 2nd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2000.
MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 7th ed., American Psychological Association, 2020.
“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center , The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/.
Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.
Published October 18, 2015. Updated July 25, 2021.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and is the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
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An annotated bibliography is a list containing complete information of sources, such as journals, books, and reports, cited in the text. In addition, it provides a brief description of each source in about 100–150 words. The annotation can explain the topics covered in the source or evaluate the source. The main objective of giving the annotation is to provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source.
An example of an annotated bibliography in APA style is given below.
Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35 (1), 61–76. https://doi:10.1080/01596306.2012.739467
Lim (2014) focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in making our understanding of what thinking and rationality are. It must facilitate the social reproduction of a specific proportion of the middle class.
If you want to evaluate or provide a description of a source you are citing, you can create an annotated bibliography. Write your annotation in 100–150 words and add it below the source for which you are providing your annotation. Remember, your annotation should provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source. Below are the guidelines and rules to be followed while writing an annotated bibliography for APA style:
Order your reference entries in alphabetical order, similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.
If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a fresh paragraph below the reference entry. The annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. However, the first line of the annotation is not indented.
To format the annotated bibliography, follow the recommendations given below:
Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins to 1 inch.
Give double-line spacing.
Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.
The title should be aligned to the center of the page.
As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inch from the left margin.
Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.
Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.
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Annotated Bibliography Samples
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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.
As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.
Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.
Sample MLA Annotation
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Anchor Books, 1995.
Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.
In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.
In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.
For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 9th Edition (2021) Formatting and Style Guide .
Sample APA Annotation
Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . Henry Holt and Company.
In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.
An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.
The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.
For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide .
Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation
Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess . London: Routledge, 1998.
Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.
This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.
For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.
What You Need to Know About Annotated Bibliographies
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- Select style:
- Archive material
- Chapter of an edited book
- Conference proceedings
- Dictionary entry
- DVD, video, or film
- E-book or PDF
- Edited book
- Encyclopedia article
- Government publication
- Music or recording
- Online image or video
- Press release
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An Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies
What is an annotated bibliography? Annotated bibliographies are aggregated lists of resources that correlate with a research topic. Students and researchers actively seek out exceptional resources about a specific research topic and develop of list of the best resources they’ve found. In addition to information about the source (such as the title, author’s name, publication information, and other identifiable information), writers also include a brief synopsis of each source to provide readers with information about its contents.
Follow the directions below, developed by Cite This For Me, to form a bibliography with annotations.
How to Do an Annotated Bibliography
The act of compiling a bibliography of this type involves:
- Choosing an annotated bibliography topic. Annotated bibliography topics are sometimes chosen by teachers or professors. There are times, however, when educators allow students or researchers to choose their own topics. Choose a topic which interests you to make the assignment more enjoyable to organize and complete.
- Seeking out relevant resources that directly correlate with a research topic
- Creating a citation for each resource. The citation includes the title, author’s name, date of publication, and other identifiable information. Citations can be formatted in MLA format , or another style your teacher or professor recommends.
- Writing a very brief analysis or summary of each source
In many nonfiction books and texts, authors provide readers with a suggested listing of resources for further reading. This is somewhat similar to an annotated bibliography, except a bibliography of this type takes it one step further and includes a brief write-up (about a paragraph long) about each source.
This specific type of bibliography can stand as an individual assignment or it can be one component of a full research project.
Looking for more information? Need a sample annotated bibliography? In need of another annotated bibliography definition? Click here for further reading.
Why Are Annotated Bibliographies Created?
These specific bibliographies are created for numerous reasons. One reason is to encourage students and researchers to become experts on a topic or area of study. It takes quite a bit of effort and time to access, read, and analyze sources related to a research topic. Scouring the wealth of information available promotes understanding and mastery.
They are also assigned to demonstrate, as well as to advance, information literacy skills. Using accurate keywords and subject headings, accessing databases, and analyzing sources are skills that are necessary in the 21st century. Compiling a bibliography of this type promotes these skills and helps students and researchers demonstrate good practices when it comes to information literacy.
Furthermore, these bibliographies can be helpful to others who are researching the same or a similar topic. Since they provide readers with a brief synopsis, or abstract, of each documented source, readers can determine if they can use it for their own tasks. They may find that the information relates to their own research goals and decide to locate and use the source as well, or they may decide to skip it.
What Elements Are Included in An Annotated Bibliography?
If you’re wondering how to write an annotated bibliography, or need an annotated bibliography template, follow these recommended guidelines from Cite This For Me.
Bibliographies include the following items, in this order:
- An introduction: The introduction should be the first item. The introduction should include the research topic, the types of sources included, the process used to locate the sources, and any other information related to the scope of the bibliography. Since the sources are the focus of the assignment, not the introduction, keep this part of the bibliography brief and succinct.
- A list of the sources and their annotations: This is the heart of the bibliography. Each source should have a full reference citation. Use Cite This For Me’s Citation Generator to instantly develop citations and add them to your assignment. The citations can be placed in alphabetical order by the first item in the citation (most likely the author’s name), in order by publication date, or the citations can be broken up into different categories (by subject categories or source types).
Below each citation, add the annotation. The annotation should be a write-up of about one paragraph, summarizing the source or providing a critique that pertains to the research topic.. For an explanation on the different types of annotations, click here for more.
Annotated Bibliography Examples
Below are a variety of examples and samples to help you understand how to make an annotated bibliography. Please note that only a couple annotations are included to provide an idea of the content and structure. If these were to be complete assignments, the bibliographies below would include more sources.
If you’re still asking yourself, “what is an annotated bibliography?” or wondering what to include in an annotated bibliography, check over here.
Annotated Bibliography Example #1: A MLA style bibliography with summary annotations
Topic: Research Habits of Young Children
This bibliography provides insight into the researching habits of young children. The majority of the resources were found using the ERIC database and include a variety of scholarly articles written in the past two years. These journal articles were peer reviewed.
Karalar, Halit, and Sabri Sidekli. “How Do Second Grade Students in Primary Schools Use and Perceive Tablets?” Universal Journal of Educational Research , vol. 5, no. 6, 2017, pp. 965-71. ERIC , doi: 10.13189/ujer.2017.050609.
This case study examined 60+ second graders in Turkey, seeking to determine how digital natives use tablets. Found that students use tablets to play games, search online, complete homework, and watch videos. Students did not use the tablets to read books, listen to music, or take photos. Students prefer playing outside to using tablets.
Knight, Simon, and Neil Mercer. “Collaborative Epistemic Discourse in Classroom Information-Seeking Tasks.” Technology, Pedagogy and Education, vol. 26, no. 1, 2017, pp. 33-50. ERIC, doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2016.1159978.
Focused on a small group of 11-year-olds who performed various tasks and located answers via search engines. Sought to determine if students regularly discuss their information-seeking practices and findings with one another. Authors found that students did discuss their processes, which ultimately resulted in positive learning outcomes.
Annotated Bibliography Example #2: An APA style bibliography with critique annotations
Note that The American Psychological Association does not provide guidelines or promote the development of annotated bibliographies. However, your teacher or professor may have assigned you one in this specific format. Cite This For Me recommends using the format and structure provided in this guide. Use the example of annotated bibliography below for reference as well.
Understanding the researching habits of young children provides educators with the ability to formulate developmentally appropriate research tasks and understand expectations. In addition, current research allows us to gather information about common misconceptions and to work towards changing them.
This bibliography displays a variety of current scholarly journal articles to help understand students’ research habits. The bibliography is organized by the platform studied and discussed in each article: Research on Desktop Computers and Research on Tablets. Since students’ researching habits can change depending on the platform used, it seemed appropriate to organize the bibliography as such.
Research on Computers
Knight, S., & Mercer, N. (2017). Collaborative epistemic discourse in classroom information-seeking tasks. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(1), 33-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2016.1159978
Concluded that student discussion during information-seeking tasks helps with understanding and completing research tasks. Small sample of students (8), which makes results difficult to compare to whole population. Developmentally appropriate search activity for students. Many students stated they looked for “official websites” in order to trust information.
Research on Tablets
Karalar, H., & Sidekli, S. (2017). How do second grade students in primary schools use and perceive tablets? Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(6), 965-971. http://dx.doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2017.050609
Attempts to understand how a small sample of 2nd graders in Turkey use their tablets. As an educator, the format of the open-ended written responses seemed developmentally too difficult. However, it stated in the study that students completed it easily. Findings were not surprising. Fourteen out of 63 students stated they use tablets for searching. One student stated, “It knows whatever I asked,” so it can be assumed that perhaps Siri, or some other type of voice recognition software, was used to type in the search strings or keywords.
Click here for an additional annotated bibliography sample/example of an annotated bibliography. This source also explains how to define annotated bibliography and answers the question, “What are the parts of an annotated bibliography?”
Notice the two annotated bibliography samples found above have different structures. The first bibliography is formatted in alphabetical order by the author’s last names, while the second bibliography is organized into different categories. Both are acceptable. If the bibliography is very long, it may be helpful to organize it into different subject headings or categories.
Researchers and students can also organize their bibliographies in chronological order. This is often done when many of the sources are created by the same person. For example, if writing a bibliography about short stories Mark Twain wrote, it would make sense to organize the bibliography by publication date. For further information on the organization and for an example annotated bibliography, click here to get more info. This site also features an annotation worksheet, which can be used as an annotated bibliography maker.
Here are some additional recommendations from Cite This For Me to help format your annotated bib:
If you are creating the bibliography in MLA:
- Use standard size print or copy paper (8.5 inches x 11 inches). It is not necessary to use a specific finish or texture.
- Double space everything, even the citations.
- Choose a commonly used font. Arial and Times New Roman are both good options. For font size, use 12-point.
- Create a hanging indent for citations. The first line of the citation should align along the left margin. The second line should be indented in half an inch from the left (or use the “Tab” button on your keyboard). Look at the citations above for visual examples.
- Margins should be 1 inch around the perimeter of the paper.
If you are creating the bibliography using APA format:
- Use Times New Roman only. For font size, use 12-point.
Don’t forget, Cite This For Me generates citations in even more styles . Use Cite This For Me’s citation generator to develop your citations in a few easy steps.
An annotated bibliography contains three parts: 1. the title at the top; 2. the bibliographic citation; and 3. the annotation following each citation. Some style formats may also include an introduction to the topic. While the citation provides standard details about the work, the annotation following it is generally summary, analysis, or evaluation. A summary or analysis may also include an evaluation.
The annotated bibliography may be organized alphabetically by authors’ last names, by category, or chronologically.
Elements of an Annotated Bibliography
Title: Annotated Bibliography (centered)
Citation (per APA or MLA or Chicago format)
Annotation (150 to 250 words in summary, analysis, or evaluation)
You should create an annotated bibliography for the following reasons:
- To help you evaluate the credibility, authenticity, and authority of your sources before you start writing your paper
- To help you understand the depth of your topic
- To help you decide if you have enough information on your topic based on your research
- To assess whether your research is adequate or if you need more research to come to a conclusion
These points are discussed in detail below.
Evaluating the credibility, authenticity, and authority of your sources
When you assess a source’s credibility, authenticity, and authority, you become genuinely knowledgeable on whether that source is trustworthy and reliable enough to base your research on. This is of paramount importance when the paper bases its findings on your sources.
Understanding a Topic in Depth
A source can either provide information at a shallow level or at a much deeper level. By creating an annotated bibliography, you can evaluate at what level a resource provides information. Most importantly, the resource enables you to fathom your level of understanding of the subject and transfer that knowledge to future readers of your paper.
Assessing the Need for Further Research
By compiling an annotated bibliography, you can assess if the sourced ideas are enough and relevant or if you need to dig deeper to get more information on your chosen area of focus. While you may get information from all your sources, the ideas and conclusions that you derive from those sources are to be your own. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you to arrive at a final conclusion more easily when you synthesize your ideas and conclusions in a cohesive manner.
How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography
- Critical Appraisal & Analysis
- Citation Styles
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SAMPLE DESCRIPTIVE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE
The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.
Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.
This example uses the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.
Waite, Linda J., Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.
More Sample Annotations
- Annotated Bibliography Examples
- Annotated Bibliography Samples
The University of Toronto offers an example that illustrates how to summarize a study's research methods and argument.
The Memorial University of Newfoundland presents these examples of both descriptive and critical annotations.
The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin gives examples of the some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies.
The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina gives examples of several different forms of annotated bibliographies in 3 popular citation formats:
- MLA Example
- APA Example
- CBE Example
This page was adapted with permission from the following:
How to prepare an annotated bibliography Research & Learning Services Olin Library Cornell University Library Ithaca, NY, USA
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How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography
- The Annotated Bibliography
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Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples
What is an annotated bibliography.
An annotated bibliography is 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.
Annotations vs. Abstracts
Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.
First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.
Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document
For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources . For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.
Choosing the Correct Citation Style
Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page .
Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries
The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:
Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.
This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 9th edition, 2021) for the journal citation. For additional annotation guidance from MLA, see 5.132: Annotated Bibliographies .
Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.
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What is An Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.
Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles. The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.
Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:
- Main focus or purpose of the work
- Usefulness or relevance to your research topic
- Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
- Background and credibility of the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by you
Annotations versus Abstracts
Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.
Annotated Bibliography video
MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography Examples
Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014.
This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.
Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect , https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 .
Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns. This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.
*Note, citations have a .5 hanging indent and the annotations have a 1 inch indent.
- MLA 9th Sample Annotated Bibliography
MLA 8th Annotated Bibliography Examples
Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014. This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.
Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect , doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 . Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns. This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.
- MLA 8th Sample Annotated Bibliography
APA 7th Annotated Bibliography Examples
Alvarez, N. & Mearns, J. (2014). The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41 (3), 263-268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 Prior research has shown narrative writing to help with making meaning out of trauma. This article uses grounded theory to analyze semi-structured interviews with ten spoken word poets. Because spoken word poetry is performed live, it creates personal and community connections that enhance the emotional development and resolution offered by the practice of writing. The findings are limited by the small, nonrandom sample (all the participants were from the same community).
- APA 7th Sample Annotated Bibliography
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Creating an Annotated Bibliography in APA Style
A bibliography is a list of source material, cited in whatever citation style you're required to use in a specific course.
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.
Put the two together and you have an Annotated Bibliography !
An annotated bibliography is an organizational tool . an annotated bibliography....
- Is an alphabetical list of all of your source material
- Includes sources you may or may not use in your research
- Summarizes each resource so you can remember what it's about
- Can include any type of resource unless specified in the assignment instructions (For an overview of the types of resources you can find through our library, view our description of resource types on our Evaluating Sources guide .)
Why must you do an Annotated Bibliography?
- If you're utilizing print resources through the library, you may not be able to renew items. How will you remember what the resource was about if you have to send it back?
- If you're utilizing electronic resources, nothing online is permanent. How will you find the resource again if it disappears?
- In larger projects, every resource starts to look the same. An Annotated Bibliography can save you time by reminding you of what you've already found.
What types of resources are used?
An Annotated Bibliography can include any type of resource unless otherwise specified by the assignment. This can include (but is not limited to):
- Scholarly materials
- Government documents
Annotated Bibliographies can be a great resource for students before they write other types of assignments, like literature reviews .
There are TWO PARTS to each entry in an Annotated Bibliography. They are:
- The citation of the resource , in whatever citation style you're required to use.
- The annotation describing the contents of the resource and how it may or may not contribute to your research.
Be sure to carefully read over the assignment instructions when you're asked to compose an Annotated Bibliography, and reach out to your professor with any questions!
Consult your course style guide to confirm the accuracy of your citation.
You can also...
- View our guide for APA Style Help .
- Consult resources like Academic Writer or Grammarly .
Focus on key areas of a text to learn enough so that you can write a strong annotation. This includes:
- Abstracts, prefaces, and summaries
- Paragraph headings
- Charts/graphs/images and their captions
- Introduction paragraph(s)
- Conclusion paragraph(s)
These areas will provide you with enough information to determine the topic, arguments, and conclusions drawn from any research presented.
A strong annotation will have three main parts:
Length requirements can vary from a few sentences to a single paragraph or a full page. Be sure to verify length requirements with your professor and/or through the assignment instructions.
When writing the summary, ask yourself:
- What topics are covered in the resource?
- What are the main arguments?
- What are the main conclusions drawn from the resource?
When writing the assessment, ask yourself:
- Is the source useful?
- How does it compare to your other resources?
- Is there bias present?
- Is the source reliable?
Our guide for Evaluating Your Sources can help you assess your research material.
When writing the reflection, ask yourself:
- How does the source fit into your research?
- How might the source support your argument?
- Did the source change your mind about the topic?
Sample APA Style citation with annotation:
Bell, C., & Holder, M. (2019, January/February). The Interrelationship between Race, Social Norms, and Dietary Behaviors among College-attending
Women. American Journal of Health Behavior , 43 (1), 23-36.
This article examines a study conducted to compare racial identity and dietary habits of women on college campuses. The findings of the
study found that women with perceived differences and social/family norms were more likely to develop unhealthy dietary habits in college,
most specifically related to fruit and vegetable consumption. This resource is useful because it examines self-perception of race and how that
can impact behavior in ways that influence one's health in the future.
View a full example in APA Style:
- Annotated Bibliography Example- APA Style A full Annotated Bibliography formatted in APA Style. Users, please verify that formatting matches your course style guide's requirements.
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