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What is an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography

When your instructor gives you a task to write an annotated bibliography for your essay or research paper, you must first understand what an annotated bibliography is. An Annotated Bibliography is a list of used sources on a selected topic provided with a brief summary and evaluation of each source. While doing research for your paper, it helps you keep track of how you can use those sources in your essay.

When the bibliography is attached to the final paper, the purpose of the annotation is to tell the reader how relevant, accurate, and qualitative the source is. It is also important to note that this type of writing is different from an abstract. An abstract is a descriptive summary in the beginning of your paper or essay. While an annotated bibliography has the same purpose, it usually appears at the end of the paper and is used to gain a further understanding of what each citation was used for.

Table Of Contents

Creation of the Masterpiece

How to write an annotated bibliography

When taking the first steps to assimilating your bibliography, make sure you look in a wide field of sources. The internet is not the only place where you can find information! Try to snoop in encyclopedias and textbooks for a more credible secondary source and use literature in your selected field as primary sources.

Before doing the annotated bibliography, go through your materials and select the ones that will be most useful for writing your paper. Also, brainstorm possible topics for the paper while doing that research.

Proceed to cite it right away! Citing things can be really tedious, but if you do it in the very beginning, then it’s much easier in the end. Then, you can proceed to your annotation. Make sure to include:

  • Author’s background and who the author is;
  • Comment on the intended audience of the article;
  • Explain how the article is useful and highlights your bibliography topic.

How it Should be Formatted?

Before embarking on the writing process, make sure to check with your instructor and find out which citation style he prefers. The two most common citation styles are the MLA (Modern Language Association) format and the APA (American Psychological Association) formats.

APA Style Format

If you choose an APA style it would include a typical APA citation followed by a short annotation. Here’s an APA example:

Monbiot, G. (2014, October 14). The Age of Loneliness is Killing Us. Retrieved from {link}

This article is from The Guardian. Monbiot is a researcher on environmental and political problems. In his article “The Age of Loneliness is Killing Us” he talks about the effect of depression and social collapse due to the technological revolution.

MLA Format

The annotated bibliography in the MLA style includes an MLA citation followed by a short annotation. Here is the EssayPro example:

Thomson, Julie R. "Bad News For Vegetarians Who Love Kimchi." The Huffington Post., 03 Apr. 2017. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.

This article comes from Huffington Post Taste and is written by Julie R. Thomson, an editor at HuffPost Taste. The article discusses the importance of looking at labels of a Korean dish called Kimchi, as it does contain animal products.

Chicago Style

If your instructor asks you to write in Chicago style, then here is an example:

Coral Williamson, “Devoted to the Music.” in Music Week (2015): 27. MAS Ultra-School Edition. 17 September 2015

This is a primary source of an interview with a famous and influential band member. This could be useful if I were to write about an insight on a band’s life and drama, along with the complications of being in an alternative rock band.

General Tips

Check that the citation is properly formatted according to the style you are using. List the author; use the full title of the book or the article you are citing; give the full name of the publisher; note the date of publication or the latest revision date if the source is a web page.

Annotate each source you are using. An annotation is a short description of a particular source. It helps the reader place the citation in context. As you have summarized everything, take a fresh look once again and answer these questions:

  • Is this information reliable?
  • Are these sources fresh or outdated?
  • What is the value of these sources for my research?

When writing one of these papers, it might be helpful to look at other examples before embarking on your own. Notice the way they write about their sources and how they split the annotation into the background, context, and analysis.


Here is a sample annotated bibliography that you can use to compare with your work and make sure that what you’re writing is correct. The citations are MLA style, so if your professor asked for annotations in the APA format or any other citation style, then you might want to pay attention to the annotations only. You can also use this as a template.

Annotated Bibliography Sample

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

The examples given in this article are a prime example of how long an annotation should be. One thing professors hate is tryhards that make them or their TA’s read pages upon pages of summary. To create a strong paper, highlight key information that includes the main ideas. If you’re annotating a longer piece of work, take notes as you go but don’t use all of them in your summary or synthesis. You only need the most important parts. A handy tool to show your professor that you read very carefully is to take direct quotations from the source. An annotated bibliography is very rarely a standalone piece. When a client tells me that they were required to write one, they often want an annotated bibliography for a research paper or a term paper. In that case, your bibliography should be focused on the usefulness and summary of the articles. However, if it is a standalone assignment, then you will want to focus on synthesis and be brief with the summary.

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Essay writing certainly is a tedious task, but writing such type of essay and not being able to find generators online is an even bigger pain to deal with. There is, however, an easier solution to your problems. Here at EssayPro, our writers can write an exclusive annotated bibliography just for you. All you have to do is assign online essay writer to a task, and he will format and create a custom piece of paper that adheres to the topmost standards.

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