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

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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Nationality and Cultural Pluralism
The paper “Nationality and Cultural Pluralism”  is an informative example of annotated bibliography on social science. In chapter five, nationality and cultural pluralism have been discussed in detail. These factors play a key role in understanding the stand of Islam in what is termed as the politics in place in the regions where they reside.…
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Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia
The paper "Political Reforms in Saudi Arabia" is a good example of a politics annotated bibliography. The author engages the reader of the article is a critical discourse concerning the political reforms in Saudi. While the paper argues that the alleged reforms are empty reforms that jeopardize the country, the author, a Ph.D. candidate in Public Administration, first admits to the fact that the Saudi rules have enacted quite a number of rules.…
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Women Are More Skillful in Achieving Relational Satisfaction Than Men

The paper "Women Are More Skillful in Achieving Relational Satisfaction Than Men" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on sociology. Cole, Nina, D. (2004). Gender Differences in Perceived Disciplinary Fairness. Gender, Work & Organization. Vol. 11/3. This was an exploratory study whereby it coded and analyzed 120 behaviours. 

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Socialization, Identity, and Interaction in Sociology
The paper “Socialization, Identity, and Interaction in Sociology” is a  meaty version of annotated bibliography on sociology. Fulcher, James and Scott, J. (2011) in their work of the same name published in New York: Oxford University Press discuss the complexity of sociology issues. Hochschild argues that emotional work management is expressed as an integral part of a particular type of work.…
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Refugee Challenges, Stressors, and Mental Health
The paper "Refugee Challenges, Stressors, and Mental Health" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on social science. This paper presents an annotated bibliography on the stressors affecting the mental health of migrants and refugees. The review aims at establishing the trends in factors influencing the mental health of the refugees.…
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The Changing Nature of the Family: House Husbands

The paper "The Changing Nature of the Family: House Husbands" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on sociology. Deutsch, F. M; Lussier, J.B; Servis, L. J. (1993). Husbands at Home. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 65 (6), p.1154-1166 [Peer Reviewed Journal]. In this article Deutsch et al. discuss the benefits of husband involvement in childcare. 

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The Painter of Modern Life
The paper "The Painter of Modern Life" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on performing arts. Baudelaire (2010) explores fashion, dandyism, beauty and the role and purpose of the artist, and defines a painter. The reading addresses problematic and affirmative features of modernism besides promoting modernist aesthetic.…
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What Ethics Means to Me as an Individual and the Help it Offers Me

The paper "What Ethics Means to Me as an Individual and the Help it Offers Me" is an excellent example of an annotated bibliography on social science. Everyone has a perception of what persona ethics mean, but to me, it all means being honest and doing the right things in everything a do. I use this ethical concern in making decisions and choices in every aspect of my life.

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Biometric Security and Privacy
The paper "Biometric Security and Privacy" is a delightful example of an annotated bibliography on information technology. The authors of the article clearly point out how biometric passport has technical as well as social problems as far as their use is concerned.  And the reason behind this is that there are problems with the database used for the collections of the data.…
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The Right to the City
The paper "The Right to the City" is a worthy example of an annotated bibliography on social science. The article by David Harvey looks at the capitalist process and the way in which the city has acted as the space for investing the surplus capital. According to this article, this is done by the use of constant construction boom which can be in the infrastructure or housing sector.…
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Transportation Planning Policy
The paper "Transportation Planning Policy" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on politics. The article named above reviews the approach taken by the Scotland Executive in the transport sector since devolution. It critically reviews and tracks the progress and challenges the executive has encountered in developing transport infrastructure.…
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Impact of Modern Technology in Australia: Case Study of the Aboriginal Culture
The paper "Impact of Modern Technology in Australia: Case Study of the Aboriginal Culture" is a wonderful example of an annotated bibliography on anthropology. It is imperative to note that the advent of modern technology has posed extensive impacts on cultures in diverse regions of the world, mostly the indigenous culture.…
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Prevention of Depression among Adolescents
The paper “Prevention of Depression among Adolescents”  is a breathtaking example of an annotated bibliography on psychology. The list starts with the article of Arnarson, E. O., & Craighead, E. W. (2009) "Prevention of depression among Icelandic adolescents. Behavior Research and Therapy", 47, 577-585.…
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Sexual Health & Family Planning
The paper “Sexual Health & Family Planning”  is an intriguing example of an annotated bibliography on gender & sexual studies. Sexuality is an individual’s relationship with his/her body’s ability for sexual activities and sexual feelings. Sexuality is also about an individual’s feelings about sex, sexual desires, habits, and sexual identity as well.…
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Global Change and Development
The paper "Global Change and Development" is a  remarkable example of an annotated bibliography on environmental studies. This journal discusses issues related to natural, social and economic issues that are related to global environmental change and how they affect the relationship among developed and developing countries.…
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