Writing Annotated Bibliography

01/06/2020 | George Orwell | 840

Many of us are familiar with the term bibliography, but we may not know the types of bibliography. There are different forms of bibliography, one of them being Annotated Bibliography.

Let us see what it is? , what it does? , why and how to write it? and most importantly the major components of it.

What is annotated bibliography?

Let us breakdown the two words, “Annotated Bibliography” and analyse them deeply. The word, “annotated” comes from the word “annotation”. Annotations  is basically a extra information on particular point in a document or article. These are often used as a note to further explain the particular comment or point.

So, an annotated bibliography refers to any collection or list of sources on a particular subject or topic that includes extra or descriptive information about each of the sources.

Now as we have covered the first step, let’s dive a bit deeper into it. You may have a question  in your mind about this topic like, what’s the fuss all about? Why do we need this form of bibliography? That is exactly what we are going to discuss next.

What are different types of annotated bibliography?

There are basically two types of annotated bibliographies: –

  1. Descriptive bibliography
  2. Analytical bibliography

1st ) Descriptive bibliography summarizes a source and besides, it tells us in detail about the author’s main motives. But it does not include evaluation and analisation of the author’s personal opinions.

2nd ) Analytical bibliography not only summarizes a source but also analyses what is being said.

The major components of Annotated Bibliography

So far we have known the what’s and the how’s. It is now time to look at the most crucial aspect of an annotated bibliography. It is now time to look at the major components of it, but some fields may vary depending upon the topic in hand.

a) Complete in-text reference

This section gives us an in-depth reference for the work. Details include the name of the author, the title of the work, the date on which it was published.

b) The author’s background

This section tells us about the name, experience and other qualifications of the author.

c) Purpose

This section tells us about valid reasons as to why the author wrote it.

d)  Scope

This section tells us about the certain points and sub-points in essay or other academic paper.

e) The primary point of argument

This section is the backbone of an annotated bibliography. This section gives us an insight on to the author’s mind. We get to know  about authors views on the particular topic.

f) Methods implemented

This section gives a thorough detail about the methods applied by the author.

g) Salient features

This section indicates whether the work contains any significant extra piece of information like charts, maps, reprints of any source material.

h) Comparison

This section compares works done by other writers on the same topic, whether it agrees or disagrees with other writers or not.

i) Strengths and Weaknesses

The strengths and weaknesses of a particular work, the pros and cons.

j) Audience

The targeted people for whom the work is supposed to be, i.e. the general public, the researchers, the scholars, the students, etc.


This tells us about the author’s conclusion and if the conclusion of the author is justified or not. We also get to know about the author’s stand on a particular topic.

l) Sources

This tells us about the sources the author has cited. Sources can include newspaper articles, internet blogs, research journals, archive libraries, video sources and all other various forms of data.

m) Reliability of the source

The reliability of a source solely depends on the author. Author cannot cite several-year-old sources and claim them to be relevant.

Let’s say, for example, the author is writing about the digital era and the steep growth of the internet. They can’t cite sources that are 20 years old because the growth was not that steep 20 years ago.

How to write annotated bibliography?

As we move along in our journey to know more about annotated bibliography, we must know how to write it. Now, to get started you must: –

Step 1: Select your source materials very carefully.

This involves thorough research of your sources before you begin writing about the topic. It is very much essential for you to ensure that you have sufficient amount of sources for satisfying the requirement of assignments. At the same time, you should also make sure that all sources which you are using are appropriate.

Note: Your annotated bibliography should provide an overview of the research  on particular topic. It should indicate the direction your project is taking.

Step 2: Identify needs of project

At  this step, it is very much important for you to develop understanding that  annotated bibliographies are meant to summarize the sources which you have found.

Step 3 : Summarize every source

It is step where you need to  provide description about the source’s or approach to the topic and the main points . The length of summary section  is completely dependent on  project requirement as well as on type of source.

Step 4: Provide evaluations

At this step, you need to consider the strengths and weaknesses  of different sources.

Step 5:  Do comparison of every source with other

As  the main purpose of annotated bibliography  is to provide overview of  research in particular field. It is a step where you need to think  whether there is  other sources  which is more relevant and authentic for gathering the information related to topic. Here, you need to identify difference between sources.

Step 6: Reflect how every source fit in research

At this step, you need to think about how each source  contributes to work.  You also need to determine how you will utilize specific source.

Step 7 :  Reviewing the actual sources :

Always review your actual sources and choose those that offer a wide perspective on your topic.

 Step 8: Writing the citation and annotation

While you are writing the actual annotation, you must keep the complete citation in the beginning and then the annotation must follow.

Now, it depends on the type of annotated bibliography you are trying to write, you must include the following: –

  1. The purpose of its work.
  2. A gist of its work.
  3. The target audience.
  4. Any unique feature of the material.
  5. Any strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material?

What does an annotated bibliography do?

It is important to know what an annotated bibliography does to an author’s work. Below are a few points, which will make you, use annotated bibliography frequently, as: –

  • It enables you to think critically about the contents of the work you are using and their relation to your own research and ideas.
  •  Annotated bibliography proves that you have read and understood your sources.
  • It emphasizes your work as a valid source and you, as a competent researcher.
  •  annotated bibliography paves a way for budding and other writers to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research or not.

Why should we use it?

The first and foremost reason why you should use an annotated bibliography is to know about your topic in a detail. It is  an excellent practice by the writers as you get to know about the topic in a very thorough manner.

Traditionally when you write a bibliography, you just write the sources, but when it comes to annotated bibliography you are forced to read about each of the sources. It helps you in judging whether all the sources are legitimate or not.

The annotated bibliography is one type of academic genre, specific to academic audiences. It is more familiar among researchers, scholars, students and academic writers. As scholars, professors and researchers are the ones who do an insane amount of research for their work, they often produce annotated bibliographies on all of their works.

This, in turn, helps their fellow researchers and scholar  in saving the time and energy if they have to start the same topic from scratch.

Maybe you are not one of them, but still, you should prefer writing an annotated bibliography to a normal bibliography. It helps you to: e valuate the credibility of the source and understand the topic in detail .

1. Evaluate the credibility of the source

Every work we do must be validated before we submit it. Writing is no different. By writing an annotated bibliography, you are reading the source items yourself, assessing them and checking their credibility before you make use of them.

Writing an annotated bibliography ensures that you have a firm grip over the topic and in a way makes you an expert  even before you have begun writing about it.

2. Understand the topic in detail manner

As teachers do a lot of homework and research before teaching a particular topic, so should writers. Without researching a topic, it isn’t possible to write in a polished and detailed manner.

The more you research about the sources, the more knowledge you acquire even before writing about the topic.

This, in turn, increases the range of your knowledge about a particular topic. By writing an annotation on each source you tend to gain more knowledge about the particular source. With more knowledge and more sources at your disposal, you have the flexibility to express your own opinions and views in addition to the sources.

Sample annotated bibliography entries

An MLA annotated bibliography and an APA format annotated bibliography are bibliographies that include a concise explanation, or annotation, of each listed source.  Whether annotated bibliography  should be analytical or descriptive, it completely dependent on  assignment.

Annotated bibliography using APA style

In context of Annotated bibliography, the format is similar  to Modern language Association  Guidelines . But you need to format references  in different way.  It is very much important for you to reference  as per APA guideline. If you are applying  APA style,  then you need to title your page as Annotated Bibliography.  Here you need to do APA citation.


Jackson , L., Widliier,  V., &  Waton , B.(2018). . Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 55,  549-560.

Authors and researchers from xyz, utilize  data from national longitudinal survey of young  women and men to test hypothesis. that non family living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional roles. It has been found that hypothesis mainly supports  females.

Annotated bibliography MLA style

The format of  annotated bibliography include:

  • You need to title your page as  annotated bibliography .
  • Students need to include annotations after full listed references.
  • You need to write annotations in one paragraph.
  • If you include single paragraph  then you need to incident every new paragraph.
  • According to MLA guideline,  you need to organize sources alphabetically according to name of author or title.  Before organizing your sources you should seek advice from tutor.
  • You should include double space in entire bibliography page.


Simson, Linda, A, 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.

Drawing the ending line! 

Now that we have gone through all the aspects of the annotated bibliography let’s just recapitulate the important points.

  1. Annotated bibliography refers to any collection or list of sources on a particular subject or topic that includes extra or descriptive information about each of the sources.
  1. It is of two types: – Descriptive and analytical or evaluative annotation.
  2. We should be using it regularly so that we can evaluate the sources and understand the topic in a very detailed manner.
  3. We must ensure that we select & review the sources properly while writing the actual citation and annotation. Selecting invalid and unreliable sources gives us wrong information.
  4. We must make a detailed note of all the major components required to construct an annotated bibliography.
  5. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages.
  6. The length of the annotation should be between 100  to 200 words.

As we now have comprehensive and crisp knowledge about annotated bibliography, we must use it to broaden our research work.

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