What is an Annotated Bibliography: A Closer Look

Papers are an inevitable part of your academic life. They are typically never a delight to most students. For subjectively logical reasons. It could be that time is not mainly a luxury on your hands. You are balancing your work with studies. This comes at the expense of time that you would have otherwise devoted to your paper. Perhaps you are taking part in different activities outside your schoolwork. On some occasions, you are caught up by looming deadlines. On others, the paper might be beyond your level of understanding of the subject at hand.

Granted, you will face numerous challenges as a student when it comes to writing your papers. The essence of papers cannot be understated, not the less. They help you in understanding the relevant topics in the subject. Furthermore, they contribute to your final grades. As such, each paper should be handled with due diligence. Papers, after all, are not meant to impede your academic progression, but rather substantiate it.

One of the unforeseeable challenges you will plausibly face is papers with specific requirements. In this case, you have a paper that requires you to write an annotated bibliography. Not only are you stuck on where to start, but you must be wondering what an annotated bibliography is. In this article, we seek to deconstruct what is an annotated bibliography. In such a way, you will handle the annotated bibliography for your paper with relative ease.

For all practical purposes, we shall begin with an annotated bibliography definition. Essentially, a bibliography is a mandatory list of all the sources you have cited in your paper. This includes all books, documents, or journals that you have obtained information from. The annotated part, in this case, is a descriptive paragraph that follows your citations. It is ideally meant to be concise, usually around 100 to 150 words. The objective of a bibliography that is annotated is to delineate the significance and credibility of the sources that you have cited. Hence, it should also be descriptive and evaluative.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: What You Need to Know

Learning how to write an annotated bibliography requires more than simply listing and briefly but critically describing your sources. It employs exposition that ought to be concise, a detailed yet brief evaluation, and your research has to be substantially founded. Furthermore, it should also meet the requirements that your instructor has provided. This may vary from the quantity, the type, and also the citation style to follow when formatting your paper and bibliography accordingly. Be it as it may, there is always a relevant annotated bibliography template that will guide you on this.

It, therefore, significantly helps to understand what you stand to gain when writing an annotation in the bibliography. First and foremost, it helps you to develop essential skills in research. You are not only limited to finding the appropriate sources. More to that, you hone your skills in analyzing and critiquing your sources. You do so in a way that demonstrates their relevance to your paper as well as their quality as references. It also helps your instructor to assess your research aptitude, hence a more thorough assessment. In that regard, writing the annotation in your bibliography might be part of the paper as opposed to a relevant requirement. If you seek to publish your paper, it follows then that your readers will have a comprehensive repository of resources from which to evaluate and reference their own papers.

How to Make an Annotated Bibliography: Content

Before getting down to write your annotations, it is vital to grasp how to make an annotated bibliography. This allows you to have a clear idea of what form your annotation will take. There are about four primary forms that your annotation may take.

Indicative – This form simply illustrates the ambit of the source and what it is about. It also includes a list of relevant topics.

Informative – This form provides actual information on the source. It starts with a thesis that is further developed, argumentatively. It then has a list of proofs and finally a conclusion.

Evaluative – This is practically an assessment of the source's significance or lack thereof. It is succeeded by supporting evidence of the central claim. Simply put, it is an analysis of the usefulness of the source.

Combination – This is the most common form. Whereby, each of the types mentioned above is covered in a sentence or two if necessary.

How to Do an Annotated Bibliography: Formatting Styles

The formatting style hinges on your area of study and sometimes the instructor. The most common formatting styles required for annotations are MLA and APA. This article will primarily look at these two styles to shed light on how to do an annotated bibliography. If you are required to do the formatting in another style, other than these two, we can gladly take you through the pertinent guides.

Taking a look at an MLA annotated bibliography example, or an annotated bibliography example APA, you will find that the discrepancy only comes in the references. The structure of the annotation remains the same in both formatting styles. The summary is also achieved similarly in both styles. However, a slight variation does occur in the organization. MLA requires you to indent each paragraph if you exceed more than one. The spacing that separates the paragraphs should be single in the annotated section, consistently. APA style does not have a recommended method of organizing the annotation. Therefore, you can simply use the MLA format, if desired.

In case the guidelines are not clear on how to handle an annotated bibliography, we provide additional guides that seek to further elaborate on the concepts. More, you can take a look at our annotated bibliography example that is easily accessible and readily available for you. If you are also unsure of how appropriately you have crafted your annotations, you can refer to the annotated bibliography template that is similarly at your disposal.

How to Annotated Bibliography: Brevity

The gravity of brevity when it comes to how to annotated bibliography cannot be overemphasized. Whether you are summarizing, assessing, or evaluating, being concise is considered paramount to getting it right. Whatever approach you take, you should not exceed the 150-word mark. In very dire circumstances, you may stretch to 200 words, but this is not highly advisable. Ensure that by the time you are writing, you can clearly express each of the elements you will include in one sentence. If push gets to shove, then two sentences. At all costs, send a clear but short message.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step by Step: The Process

Writing your bibliography with annotations can be deemed pretty straightforward, but certainly not simple. As a matter of fact, there are only three steps to having an excellent bibliography. At this point, the assumption is that you have written your paper or paper thoroughly. It would be prudent to assume that your paper is based on extensive research on the relevant topic. This is the foundation of getting the bibliography and the annotation, by extension, spot on.

The first thing that you need to do is to refer to your research on the topic. As such, you need to have all the apposite citations that are useful and relevant to the context of your paper. Just as carefully, evaluate and review the citations on which you have settled. You should ensure that they demonstrate multiple perspectives on the subject at hand. Consequently, you should cite all the sources in the appropriate format, as mentioned above. Ensure that every single detail of the citation checks out as mistakes are likely to occur at this point. Having done this, you are already halfway through the process as you have adequately handled the bibliography part.

The subsequent and most crucial part in this bibliography, the annotation, comes after you are done with the bibliography. This is where you summarize the fundamental ideas of your sources that are relevant to your paper. The annotated bibliography topics should contain four critical elements:

  • The author's background, which should include their authority in the field.
  • Commentary to the targeted readers.
  • A comparison with other sources that you have cited, which may include a contrast as well.
  • The significance of this source to your paper.

This is how to write an annotated bibliography step by step, ideally. This annotated bibliography format can be achieved in two paragraphs. The first paragraph should cover the first three elements. The second paragraph should contain the last element, elaborating on how the specific sources reinforce your topic. However, you should avoid being verbose at all costs. Remember that the annotation is generally brief and precise.

With this in mind and a sample annotated bibliography at your behest, we believe you are adequately prepared to go forth and craft your excellent bibliography. If you still need any clarifications, you can consult your instructor, or you can reach out to us. We will be happy to help.

Annotated Bibliography Example and Samples

Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents
The paper “Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents” is a pathetic variant of an annotated bibliography on education. Shanahan, T. & Shanahan, C. (2008) in their work "Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content". In this peer review, the authors argue that disciplinary literacy should be a focus of secondary and middle school settings.…
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The Problem of Food Insecurity and Undernourishment in the World
The paper "The Problem of Food Insecurity and Undernourishment in the World" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on sociology. Production of genetically modified organisms fails to present the needed solution to the problem of food scarcity in various parts of the world.…
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Classroom/Behaviour Management
The paper "Classroom/Behaviour Management" is a great example of an annotated bibliography on education. The author points out the fact that teachers will always prefer to control their students in the classroom. The more the control of the classroom the better the quality of the teacher as often asserted by most educators in the teaching field.…
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Information Resources on Organic Farming
The paper "Information Resources on Organic Farming" is an excellent example of an annotated bibliography on agriculture.  The structure in this academic article is well organized, starting with an introduction that allows the reader to understand the general concept of organic farming in Australia and New Zealand, developments of the same, and controversies surrounding it.…
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Myths about Gifted and Talented Individuals and Their Social and Emotional Needs
The paper “Myths about Gifted and Talented Individuals and Their Social and Emotional Needs” is an affecting variant of an annotated bibliography on education. There are assumptions among educators and researchers on how gifted students deal with developmental challenges. The root of these myths about gifted children emanated from the deeply ingrained societal attitudes, etc.…
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Education and Globalization

The paper "Education and Globalization" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on sociology. According to Marx and Engel, a continuous class struggle characterizes society with the oppressed seeking to liberate himself from the oppressor. According to the two, the bourgeoisie society dominates both politics and the economy.

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Development of Genetically Modified Foods
The paper "Development of Genetically Modified Foods" is a great example of an annotated bibliography on sociology. Hypothesis – if appropriate: The development of the GMO technology has failed to address the food insecurity and undernourishment problems in many parts of the world.…
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Little Desert National Park
The paper "Little Desert National Park" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on social science. The Little Desert National Park is found in Wimmera in Victoria in Australia. It runs all the way from the Wimmera River in the Eastern part to the Southwestern border of Australia. It is located about 375 km from Melbourne towards the Westside. …
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Globalization and Education for Sustainable Development
The paper “Globalization and Education for Sustainable Development” is a meaningful variant of an annotated bibliography on education. According to the document, the authors focus on some of the effects of neoliberalism in contemporary society. The document noted various negative effects of the situation especially in the public system through individual capitalization.…
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Corrective Behavior Management Strategies and Models
The paper “Corrective Behavior Management Strategies and Models” is an excellent variant of an annotated bibliography on education. Behavior management in classrooms is a continuous process. It is vital for teachers to understand what kind of strategies to employ in their classrooms since managing behavior in classrooms is a challenge.…
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Language and Culture's Influence on Perception
The paper “Language and Culture’s Influence on Perception” is an intriguing variant of an annotated bibliography on culture. Language is a tool of communication and passing ideas or information from the source, through a medium, to the recipient. Therefore, I think the idea has to be formulated or the information has to be existent first before one can communicate it by using some language.…
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Promoting Positive Learning Environment
The paper “Promoting Positive Learning Environment” is a  pathetic variant of an annotated bibliography on education. Pomerantz, A., and Bell, N. (2011) in their work "Humor as Safe House in the Foreign Language Classroom" )The Modern Language Journal. Vol. 95, Issue s1, Pages: 148–161, DOI) note that humor is one of the basic ingredients that are useful in the life of any human being.…
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The Role of Play in the Early Years of Learning
The paper “The Role of Play in the Early Years of Learning” is a convincing variant of an annotated bibliography on education. The article "The importance of play"  defines play as any activity done by someone free of choice without forcing him to do for his/her enjoyment. The three criteria given by this article for an activity to be termed as a play are; it should be free of choice by an individual, etc.…
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How Can Renewable Energy Reduce Global Warming
The paper "How Can Renewable Energy Reduce Global Warming" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on environmental studies. Relevance- The article shows that developing countries such as India are the ones that cause global warming by engaging in economic developments such as greenhouse farming. …
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Culture, Identity, and Education

The paper "Culture, Identity, and Education" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on social science. Purdie, N. & Wilss, L. (2007). Australian national identity: Young people’s conceptions of what it means to be Australian. Data from sample essays of 242 students were used to examine notions of Australian teenagers about the issue of national identity.

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Technicality and Abstraction - Language for the Creation of Specialized Texts
The paper “Technicality and Abstraction - Language for the Creation of Specialized Texts” is a  creative variant of an annotated bibliography in English. This annotated bibliography highlights and critically evaluates several kinds of literature on the issue of English for general or specific academic purposes.…
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The Children and Their Perspectives on Child Abuse
The paper "The Children and Their Perspectives on Child Abuse " is a good example of an annotated bibliography on social science. This is a publication of Allen and Unwin NSW dealing with the state interventions in the northern territory.  The book mainly focuses on the social issues facing the people after the colonial period. …
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Useful Journals for the Investigation of Terrorism and Counterterrorism
The paper "Useful Journals for the Investigation of Terrorism and Counterterrorism" is a delightful example of an annotated bibliography on social science. The annotated journals below depict various studies on the dynamics of terrorism and the ways they can lead to the disruption of world peace.…
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Resistance to Globalization Definition

The paper "Resistance to Globalization Definition" is a wonderful example of an annotated bibliography on social science. This article is about the wrong choices made about investments in the car industry in Australia. It shows how big international vehicle manufacturing companies have closed their businesses in Australia. Examples include GM, Mitsubishi, and Ford.

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Definition Risk Theories

The paper "Definition Risk Theories " is an excellent example of an annotated bibliography on social science. In the 1960s, the risk was a neutral term that was essentially concerned with depicting probabilities of gains and losses (Kahn, 1962). In contemporary society, risk has been assimilated into several dashes of realism or social constructs to depict undesirable or negative outcomes.

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Understanding and Reducing Stress in Collaborative E-Learning
The paper “Understanding and Reducing Stress in Collaborative E-Learning” is a motivating variant of annotated bibliography on education. Lawless, N. & Allan, J. (2004). in their article "Understanding and reducing stress in collaborative e-Learning", Electronic Journal on e-Learning 2 (1), pp. 121-128, say that online collaboration is progressively becoming a widespread practice in education.…
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Second Language Acquisition

The paper "Second Language Acquisition" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on education. In their article, Sayer and Ban (2014) carried out a study to determine how young students of English as a foreign language (EFL) engaged with English outside the classroom.

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The Interpersonal Meanings of Texts the English Language

The paper "The Interpersonal Meanings of Texts the English Language" is a perfect example of an annotated bibliography on education. This paper consists of analyses of 6 readings that deal with the issue of the English language. The issues discussed here include academic purposes, academic writing, systematic functional linguistics, textual analysis, grammatical metaphors, and English vocabulary.

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Teaching and Learning Polysemous Lexical Items

The paper "Teaching and Learning Polysemous Lexical Items" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on education. Polysemy is the ability of a symbol, word, or phrase to have several meanings. In other words, a symbol, word, or phrase can have several semes hence multiple senses. Even though the words or phrases might have different senses, they are related.

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A Triad of Emotional Exchange in the Socialization of Japanese Children
The paper "A Triad of Emotional Exchange in the Socialization of Japanese Children" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on education. Naming for the Chewong is vital based on their beliefs and values, whereby the community members believe that children are well identified through their names.…
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