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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: Guide with Templates & Examples

Annotated bibliography
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An annotated bibliography is a list of sources, such as books, articles, websites, and documents. Each source is followed by a concise evaluation. This helps readers to quickly assess the value and relevance of each source before deciding whether to use it in their own research.

Writing an annotated bibliography can become a complicated assignment for many students and researchers in their early career stages. You need to combine a correct reference list and explain or summarize this source clearly and accurately. Wonder how to do it?

This blog will explain how to write an annotated bibliography step-by-step and how to make it helpful for your study. We will also help to choose a suitable format and outline key types of annotation you may use. We prepared a great template to guide your writing and annotated bibliography examples you can apply to your work. 

Ever wished to know who can 'write my annotated bibliography?' It's time to find out!  Let’s make it less stressful for you.

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

First and foremost, let’s define what an annotated bibliography is. An annotated bibliography is a list of sources that also includes a short description of each one. This form organizes references you are working with for your research paper. 

For example, you can use specific automated tools to save all articles and books you read for your thesis. In this case, you must keep citations and short notes about this source. This note will help you remember critical insights from this research whenever you need it. 

Usually, the length of an annotated bibliography is 150-200 words. However, it can be shorter.

Annotated Bibliography

What Are Annotations?

Annotation is a type of structured note on an article, research, or book that can be used as a reference for future research work. It includes a reference citation and an overview of this source for 150-200 words. 

Your research paper with annotated bibliography consists of two parts. First, the source citation is formatted by the reference guide you use for your work. Quite often, it will be APA format or Chicago style

Second, notes by themselves. This is a short intro or analysis of each source. What do you need to know about it? It is 150-200 words long, or 4-6 sentences. There are four types of annotated bibliographies, and you will need to choose the best for your specific case. 

In the following paragraphs, we will explain how to write a good annotated bibliography easily and fast.

Things to Address in Annotations

The best way to start an annotated bibliography is to review a checklist of things you must address in your text. Summarizing sources is not only an assignment you get from your professor but also helpful notes for your future dissertation or thesis.

Here is what your annotation should address:

  • What is the goal of your work?
  • How is the source relevant to your research?
  • What insights from work can be helpful for your study?
  • What is the context of this study?
  • What is the research methodology?
  • What conclusions were made by the authors?
  • What comments or findings do you have after reading?

When to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Creating an annotated bibliography usually take some time, as you need to read sources first and make some notes or analysis. However, it will be a huge help for you when you need to return to the source. 

Let’s estimate when you need to write an annotated bibliography:

  • Collecting the information about the sources you are reading for the literature review.
  • Gathering the literature that can be helpful in future research.
  • Applying for the research fellowship and need to overview all sources for future work.
  • Doing a part of a more extensive assignment in research or academic writing class.

What to Include in an Annotated Bibliography?

After you are clear with the purpose of your annotation and find a reliable source to use, it is also important to define what to include in this text. 

We suggest you include these parts in your annotated bibliography:

  • Start with a title page that includes your name, university, and course if you are working with stand-alone annotated bibliography for your assignment.
  • Create a source citation based on a formatting manual you are using.
  • Write a short explainer about this source. It can be descriptive or analytical.

Sample Annotated Bibliography Templates

Annotating sources can be an easy task if you already know what they should look like. We encourage students to use a template for an annotated bibliography. 

Our best dissertation writing services prepared advanced samples that can be easily applied to any type of source you are working with. Just open any template and insert your text, saving the formatting of the document. Also, ensure that you are using the right formatting manually.

Learn more: 

>> APA Style Annotated Bibliography 

>> MLA Annotated Bibliography 

>> Chicago Style Annotated Bibliography

Types of Annotations

As we already mentioned, there are a few types of notes that students or researchers can use. In the following paragraphs, we will outline them and briefly explain the specifics of each kind. It is essential to clarify how you will use these notes in the future and define the aim of this text. Let’s go through informative, indicative, evaluative, and a combination annotations closer.

Indicative / Descriptive Annotations

This type of annotation describes a source and summarizes the main points from it. In simple words, descriptive bibliography outlines the key findings and briefly describes the source, giving general information about the source. In this type of summary, you should not go deep into the discussion of theories or methodology. 

Descriptive / Indicative Annotation Bibliography Example

Descriptive Annotation.png

Informative / Summary Annotations

This type of annotation may look like a descriptive one. But the difference is that these annotations  not only outline research questions but also surmise findings from the source. You can use these notes whenever you need to remember what this source is about and if it applies to your research work. 

Informative / Summary Annotated Bibliography Example

Example of a Summary Annotation

Evaluative Annotations

Evaluative annotation provides a basic analysis and assessment of your source.  It also indicates the source's pros and cons and delineates limitations and possibilities for future research. You may also need to look at the results' reliability and the bias that may influence insights for writing this annotation type. 

Evaluative Annotated Bibliography Example

Example of Evaluative Annotation

Combination Annotations

The last type of source notes is a combination of description and analysis of the source. For instance, you can start with a summary of the research and then add a few lines of analysis of the weaknesses of this study. This type of bibliography is one of the most frequently used in academia. 

Combination Annotated Bibliography Example

Example of Combined Annotation

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step-by-Step?

To answer how to do an annotated bibliography, we would suggest using a step-by-step guide. There are  five steps that will make this process much easier.  Knowing how to create annotated bibliography benefits your academic work. You need to define a source, read and analyze it, choose your formatting style, and after that - write an annotation that will work for you. But let’s go through each step together!

1. Select a Source

To create an annotated bibliography, start with a careful source review. In most cases, you will save a lot of papers, articles, and books you may use for your research while surfing the internet. 

The question is how to organize those links and use them when writing your own paper or literature review. This is why you need to be proficient in bibliography notes. But are all the sources good for your work? Do you need to collect everything you find on your keywords? No, it would be best to try sorting the sources you will use.

Things to Consider when Choosing Sources for Your Annotated Bibliography

Let’s briefly outline the key points you need to consider choosing sources for the annotations. Here is a list of things to consider:

  • Ensure that this is an academic source, not a random online link. It should be a peer-reviews article or academic book.
  • Check the credibility of your source.
  • Make sure the source is current. In other words, check when it was written, and if the described theories are still relevant for the field.
  • Ensure the relevance of the source to your topic. There is no need to work with a source that does not match your research topic at all.

2. Analyze Your Sources

Before you write annotations for each source, you need to go deep into analysis. First, you need to evaluate the source's relevance and check if you need it for your work. It may be a brief reading. But then you need to analyze the research, underline insights and make your comments. This is how you will get information for annotation. 

Also, the analysis will help to define what type of annotation will work best for this source. In case you need an evaluative one, check the authors' bias and previous research on this topic. Be critical with analysis, and try to include possible errors that may occur in the same research. Point out the research methodology as it can be applicable to your study.

3. Format Citations Using a Proper Style

All annotations have the same structure, and it won’t change in any case. You will need to have a title, annotated bibliography citation, and notes about your source. However, there is something that may differ - a citation style. We would suggest using the style that is common for your field of study. For example, if you are in social science, you will probably use APA guidance to format an annotated bibliography. It can be MPA, APA, Chicago, or another academic writing style guides you may use for your research paper. 

There are a lot of options to check your citations. You can use automated tools or templates for the exact formatting styles.

4. Create Annotations

The most important part of the work is the writing process. After you are clear with a type of annotation and have already read the source, you can start working on a text. As we mentioned, it can be a source overview, analysis, or combination of those two types of writing. In any case, you need to dedicate enough time to this step. 

If students are stuck with their writing, we will encourage them to use sample annotation for inspiration or ideas. It is also possible to use professional writing support from universities or reliable academic services.

5. Check Annotated Bibliography Format

The last step is checking the formatting style you use for the annotation. It is vital to write all the annotations in one style and ensure that your academic advisor approves them. 

What can be a problem? First, Style Manual can have minor changes in every new edition, and you need to check them in advance. For example, APA 6 and APA 7 have different rules for citations. Also, proofread the assignment before submission.Annotated Bibliography Examples

For this blog, we collected annotated bibliography samples to help students with this assignment. How to use them? First, choose the one that fits your case the best. Ensure that it uses the same formatting guide. Then you can apply your text to the formatting and writing we have for you. It is an effective way to ensure that there are no errors in your text or formatting. 

Here are examples of annotated bibliography you can use for your writing.

Annotated Bibliography Examples

For this blog, we collected annotated bibliography samples to help students with this assignment. How to use them? First, choose the one that fits your case the best. Ensure that it uses the same formatting guide. Then you can apply your text to the formatting and writing we have for you. It is an effective way to ensure that there are no errors in your text or formatting. 

Here are examples of annotated bibliography you can use for your writing.

Annotated Bibliography Example 

Annotated Bibliography on Recidivism
Paper type:
Annotated Bibliography
2.24 MB

Annotated Bibliography Writing Tips

Let’s summarize all tips we have and define the information you need to put in citations and notes for your annotations. There are best suggestions from researchers and academics.

  • Clarify the text's purpose from the very beginning. It will guide you through annotation types and citation styles you need to use.
  • Use annotation examples we share or any other from reliable sources.
  • Choose the right citation sources for your work. It should be authoritative academic papers or books.
  • Select the right type of annotations.
  • Outline the strengths and weaknesses of the research, and evaluate the methodology if it is possible.

Annotated Bibliography Checklist

How do you write an annotated bibliography and keep everything you need to consider in your mind? This is a pretty frequent question for academic writing experts. To help you with this task, we created a short checklist. You can use it while working on your assignments.

Bottom Line on How to Make an Annotated Bibliography

Do you still think that formatting your annotated bibliography and creating this text is rocket science? We are quite sure that this detailed guide can help you with this assignment and navigate your research work.

In this blog, we outlined key principles of creating valuable notes, pointed out the aims of this assignment, and introduced four types of annotations students may use for their work. We also provided a set of samples for good writing and guidance on how to set up the writing process. 

Finally, you can find a checklist to support your work and a few tips from experts for better academic writing. You can see that writing is easy – you need to find a reliable source, analyze it, choose the best writing style and required formatting guide, and have some time for the creating process. Hopefully, this text guides you through the writing process and helps to handle this academic writing task.

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FAQ About Annotated Bibliographies

1. What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

The main purpose is to organize your sources in a way that they can be easily used in the future. You may also need this type of document for research grant applications. In a nutshell, this is an overview of key literature on your chosen topic with short analytical notes and proper citations.

2. How long is an annotated bibliography?

This is not a long form of academic writing. In most cases, it will be for one paragraph, 4-6 lines. Approximately the length of this text is 150-200 words. However, it can be up to 300 words in case of a complicated source (for example, a book). But shorter notes are better.

3. What is the difference between an annotated bibliography and abstract?

An annotated bibliography is an overview of the available source on a specific topic, while a research paper abstract is a summary of the study written by its author. Annotations are more critical and show how you can apply this research to your specific topic. It can be an evaluative analysis or summary of insights that are relevant to your work.

4. What is the difference between an annotated bibliography and a literature review?

While both an annotated bibliography and a literature review involve evaluating sources, the key difference is in the scope and purpose of each type of writing. An annotated bibliography provides a brief 150-200 word summary of individual sources, while a literature review provides a comprehensive synthesis and critique of the existing research on a particular topic.

5. What writing style should be used in annotations?

For writing an annotated bibliography, you will use an academic writing style and formatting guide that is relevant to your work. Three main styles can be applicable to this task. Telegraphic style with short phrases, complete sentences, and writing a coherent paragraph. In any case, your text should be brief and define only important and relevant points.

6. What should an annotated bibliography look like?

The best way to check it is to look at a sample we provide for our users. It looks like a citation of a source and a paragraph of text right after this citation. In a reference list, you have only citations, and for annotation, you need to have a bit longer source overview.

Article posted on:May 1, 2023
Article updated on:May 11, 2023


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