Writing an Annotated Bibliography

When writing a research paper, a bibliography, reference pages and work cited information is typically required to give credit to the sources used during research. An annotated bibliography is similar but includes descriptions of the credited sources that go beyond the general citations used. The sources still remain listed alphabetically but brief a summary of the research is provided.

Q: What is an annotated bibliography?
A: The term “annotated” is the past tense of “to annotate” meaning to summarize. An annotated bibliography is a list of sources gathered from your topic research that contain brief summaries describing each source. The two parts of an annotated bibliography is the bibliography line (written in MLA, APA or other format) and a summary paragraph.

Q: What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?
A: The purpose of using an annotated bibliography is to help the reader determine if the work cited is relative to the line of inquiry or a particular research topic. An annotated bibliography also serves as a review of the topic research, quality and quantity of research done, examples of sources available and an exploration of future topic research.

Q: What does the annotated bibliography look like?
 A: The two parts of an annotated bibliography, the bibliography line and summary paragraph, are brought together to form an “entry”. Entries are organized in alphabetical order, such as the title of a book or the last name of an author. The summary should include a sentence or two that describe the authors purpose and credentials, a brief summary of the content, and a final sentence that explains the value of the source and how it may be used.

Annotated Bibliography – Example:

Students Name
Professors Name
English 101
May 5, 2010

Global Warming: An Annotated Bibliography

Christianson, Gale E. Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming. New York: Walker & Company, 1999. Print.

Here you would find the annotation of the source provided above. A brief summary of what the above book tells about the topic of global warming would be provided. Criticisms of the source as well as information such as reliability, biased or objective opinions should be written. Check to see if the facts given in the source are well documented and if the author is qualified to write about the subject.

Depending on the specific research topic, the annotation will vary in length. Once the source has been summarized, you can then reflect on the source. Is the source too general? Is it a helpful resource? Since global warming is a broad topic, speculate whether or not the source has helped to narrow down your topic.

Willis, Henry. Earth’s Future Climate. Coral Springs, Florida: Llumina Press, 2003. Print.

Not all annotations have to be the same in word count or length. The purpose of an annotation is to simply describe and summarize the sources used during research, whether they should be short or lengthy. Reflection is also not needed for all sources. When using articles or books for sources, the researcher should be certain to only focus on pages that relate to your narrowed topic.

Moore, Thomas. Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry About Global Warming. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1998. Print.

Notice that all the sources listed are in alphabetical order depending on the first letter in the first word given. The annotations given should be in paragraph form and one or several can be provided. When dealing with many sources, categories can be organized on the bibliography such as resource books, television, Internet articles or scholarly sources.

Annotated Bibliography - Resources: