What is an Annotated Bibliography?
What is a bibliography? Often called a “works cited list” or “reference list,” it’s a list, usually found at the end of your project, that displays all of the sources that you used in your research project. In this list, you may have websites, books, newspapers, magazines, or other types of sources that were used.
Each listed source, also called a “citation,” shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other items. Citations are provided so that others can find the sources themselves.
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents where each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 100 to 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation.
Why Have One?
Sometimes instructors want you to include an “annotated bibliography.” An annotated bibliography includes three items for each source:
- the citation
- a short summary of the source
- your personal thoughts and insights from the source
The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, location, and quality of the sources cited. Please check with your teacher or professor first to see if an annotated bibliography/works cited page is needed for your paper.
- Create the citation in MLA, APA, or another style that your teacher instructs you to cite in. Your teacher will tell you which style you should use.
- Write a few sentences summarizing the source. What was it about? What was the main point of it?
Your Personal Thoughts and Insights
- Was the source helpful for your particular assignment?
- How did it help answer your research question(s)?
- How was this source different than the other sources used?
- Did the source change your thinking on the research topic?
- How did the source affect you?
- Citations are listed in alphabetical order
- Format your paper according to the MLA or APA guidelines (include the link to the MLA and APA guideline pages)
Example (in MLA):
Example (in APA):
Did you know that you can create annotated bibliographies using EasyBib citation tools? Go to any citation form and simply click the “Add Annotation” button at the bottom. A space will open up that allows you to add your own annotation for the citation.
Carson, R. (1962). The obligation to endure. In Silent spring (pp. 5-13). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Carson, in this chapter from Silent Spring, claims that chemical pollution, especially in the form of pesticides, is "the most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment" (152). Modern science's creation of new chemicals (almost five hundred a day) and their subsequent use--two hundred of them alone used to kill pests of all kinds--have begun to alter the biological environment irrevocably, so that nuclear warfare is no longer the most certain means of wiping out life on the planet. Instead, the real killer becomes the many poisons we use to wipe out pests. These already are causing and will cause ultimately all kinds of genetic alterations in plant and animal life that will bring about the end of life as we know it. Carson does not advocate a complete end to chemical pest control, but she does insist that chemicals should be used only after they have been thoroughly investigated, tested, and understood. And then they should be used only by those who understand how to use them and their potential for both benefit and harm.
The second annotation is longer than the first, but it is also evaluative. A descriptive annotation is simply a list of topics an author talks about, while an evaluative annotation states conclusively what the author thought about, how he/she thought about it, and what it finally meant for the piece of writing he/she produced. Ask your instructor how you should write your annotations.