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Annotated Bibliography: Start Here

Description of what an Annotated Bibliography is, how to conduct one, and examples.

Annotated Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography is a list of the articles the author has selected that pertain to the same general topic in some way.  It is alphabetized by authors last name and the annotation is short - usually 150 - 250 words or less.  The Bibliography should be inclusive, covering the topic thoroughly by showing different viewpoints about the same topic.  It should illustrate the relevance of the article to the topic, and it should address the quality of the article.

An Annotation is not an Abstract.  An Abstract is descriptive.  An Annotation is both descriptive and critical.  The Annotation tells about the article (descriptive) and makes a judgment about the importance and status of the article in the field (critical).   

Annotated Bibliographies are usually assigned as a way for the author to learn about a topic in broad terms and then to select and narrow the materials to those thought to be the most relevant by the author.  This process demonstrates the ability to critique and synthesize research and use it as the foundation for further research.

How to Create an Annotated Bibliography

Steps to creating an Annotated Bibliography

  1.  Read the assignment - it is important to know exactly what and how many the instructor for the course is asking you to find.  Check to see what style the instructor requires for this assignment.

  2.  Do the research - search the appropriate databases.  These databases may be the libraries catalog, discovery tool - such as Scout, or subject specific databases relevant to the topic.

  3.  Read the materials and take notes as you read.  Reading the materials will give you a thorough background about the topic.  Taking notes will help you to formulate your thoughts about the individual items in your bibliography.  Notes can often be entered into citation managers or written on note cards.

  4.  Write the annotations for each item you are going to include in your bibliography.

  5.  Write an introduction - if one is required.

  6.  Format the Bibliography using the style rules for the style that meets the requirements for the assignment.

  7.  Edit the Bibliography.  Even if you are using a Citation Manager, or a grammar and spell checker, scrutinize each entry to make sure that it is correct.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

1.  Check your assignment to see exactly what the instructor requires. 

      A.  Know what the minimum number of entries should be.  You can always do more if you are highly motivated. 

      B.  Know what type of material is required.   Does the instructor want only Scholarly Articles, a combination of scholarly articles and books, or book chapters.

      C. Know how long each annotation should be.  Most instructors set a minimum word length for each entry.  Try to stick with that.  Don't write a 500 word annotation when the requirement is for a short 150 word annotation.

2.  Read the material and take notes.  Notes should include at least one sentence using each one of the three elements in Step 4.

3.  Consult outside sources when needed.

4.  Write the review.  Include at least these 3 sections.  The annotation should be about 300 - 500 words, unless the instructor has asked for a short annotation.  In that case, the word count should be 150 - 250 words.

     A.  Descriptive sentence - brief coverage of contents, scope, methodology, and style of the article.

     B.  Analytical - critical assessment of the article's quality.  Include evaluative judgments.  Evaluative judgments include comparisons to other books, book chapters, articles, or media on the same subject.  Controversial elements, including new methodologies should be noted.     Conclusions reached should be reviewed succinctly in this section.  This section usually takes more than one sentence.

      C.  Assessment - evaluative statement of the contribution the article has made to the literature on the topic.  Judgments should be based on the analysis.

 

Examples of Annotated Bibliography

Example of APA Style Annotated Bibliography Entry

The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) 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, 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.

Example of MLA Annotated Bibliography Entry

This example uses MLA style (MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016) for the journal citation:

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.

Example of a Chicago Style Annotated Bibliography Entry

Kerr, Don, and Roderic Beaujot. "Child Poverty and Family Structure in Canada, 1981-1997." Journal of  Comparative Family Studies 34, no. 3 (2003): 321-335.

            Sociology professors Kerr and Beaujot analyze the demographics of impoverished families.  Drawing on data from Canada’s annual Survey of Consumer Finances, the authors consider whether each family had one or two parents, the age of single parents, and the number of children in each household.  They analyze child poverty rates in light of both these demographic factors and larger economic issues.  Kerr and Beaujot use this data to argue that ...

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Benita Strnad
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Subjects:Education

Creating an APA Annotated Bibliography

Creating an MLA Annotated Bibliography

Creating a Chicago Style Annotated Bibliography