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Annotated Bibliography - An Easy Guide With Examples

Annotated Bibliography - An Easy Guide With Examples

An annotated bibliography is a set of references that are arranged alphabetically. They are similar to the list of references but something that makes it different is that it has an explanation of all the given references. Sometimes, teachers ask for an annotated bibliography before you start with your research. This is to make sure that the student is following the right path and the guidelines closely.

Still, many students find it difficult to understand and write the annotated bibliography for various purposes. It’s not as difficult as you think, and trust me, you have got enough time and definitely the support to get it done on time.

Just explore this piece of writing and I assure you that you can learn and nail each and every part of the annotated bibliography, even in the limited time you are left with.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

You must have heard about the bibliography, even if you are not familiar with what is an annotated bibliography.

The bibliographic information is an essential part of each and every writing assignment. It is added at the end of the paper. It is actually the list of the sources which have been used for completing the assignment.

An annotated bibliography is slightly different from simple bibliography in the way that it is more detailed and elaborated.

It is quite important to learn about the importance of the annotated bibliography because it is not just some one-time assignment and you would have to do it again and again, so be careful and attentive, so you can learn better.

An annotated bibliography is one of the most important parts of the research work, which is specifically used in the thesis work and dissertations. Creating an annotated bibliography can differ based on the formatting style.

However, to prepare you for the future, your instructor might ask you to write the annotated bibliography even for the term papers and research essays. So, always make sure sure that you check with your instructor before you start working on your research project.

Annotated Bibliography Template (PDF)

The annotated bibliography can be defined as,

“Reference list, along with their short description of three to four sentences.”

In other words, an annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources consulted or used for writing the assignment or getting done the research work along with a brief discussion of the sources.

You can easily grasp a rough idea by looking at an annotated bibliography definition and learn the rest by making a little effort of going through the other sections of this writing piece.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the details and description of the annotated bibliography can change according to the instructions, so pay close attention to the details, in order to know what is required.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

One of the basic and essential questions of most of the students is how to write an annotated bibliography, so you do not need to feel bad for asking it, right when you have to submit your assignment the next morning.

You should never be ashamed of learning and there is no problem in not knowing but only in not making the effort of knowing.

Well, here are some of the steps which an annotated bibliography includes:

Select the Sources

The very first step towards writing the annotated bibliography is selecting the sources which would be consulted for doing the thesis, dissertation, or even the term paper.

Most of the time, three to four sources are required for the almost three-page task.

If you are writing a research essay of three pages, it would be safe to pick four sources for an annotated bibliography, if more are not instructed by your teacher.

Never forget the fact that the sources should be scholarly and peer-reviewed, or in other words, you cannot just randomly pick websites for the works cited page of your research paper.

Do Background Research

Once you have selected the sources, go through the details at least twice, in order to explore what the author is trying to communicate through their writing.

Doing the background research of the sources means that you have to find the suitability of the sources with your subject and topic under discussion.

If the source does not seem related, you can change and replace it with some other suitable one, as the purpose of the annotated bibliography is to explain how the source would help you in your writing or research work.

Select the Writing Style

The next step is going through the instructions once again and extracting the details of the required writing style, just in case you do not mistake the assigned one for some other.

Greater chances are you would be assigned one writing style out of APA, MLA, and Chicago.

However, if you are assigned Harvard or any other style, there is nothing to get worried about, as it does not make a great difference.

Except for the fact that you will have to cite the sources according to the assigned writing style and write down the annotation in the general format.

Start Writing

Once you are done with selecting the sources, doing background research and finalizing the writing style, you can start the writing process.

You have to follow this pattern in your writing:

  • List down the citations of the sources according to the assigned writing style.
  • Do not forget to format the citation in hanging indent style.
  • Make the font of the citation bold.
  • Write down the annotation of the sources below their citations.
  • Indent every new paragraph.

You are not done with your assignment yet. Explore the next section to know the final step.

Edit and Proofread

The last and final step is to edit and proofread the written material.

You may think that you have written quite carefully and there are no apparent mistakes, but you never know until you give it a final check.

Check the content for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure errors.

Ensure that your written text is making perfect sense and you are not missing out important points.

Annotated Bibliography Format

I am sure you can now write an annotated bibliography without being haunted or scared by it, however, there is still one more thing that you essentially need to learn to improve the quality of your assignment and that is an annotated bibliography format.

You have already learned by now that a bibliography consists of two important parts,

  • Citation
  • Annotation

It may look simple but the task could be difficult if you do not know how to work on it.

This is why you need to learn the details which will surely help you get better grades by portraying better understanding and knowledge of the concepts.


The citation of the sources is done in the usual way, like the citation in other types of assignments, while being careful of the required writing style.

Most of the time, the citation requires the following essential details.

  • Full name of the works, i.e. book, article, etc.
  • Names of the authors who contributed to the work.
  • Name of the publisher.
  • Date when the work was published.


Annotation is the most crucial part of the annotated bibliography, so you have to pay greater attention to this section, in order to not miss any important details.

Annotation is the detailed description of the source, in addition to the explanation of its relevance with the paper or project under discussion.

Annotation consists of four essential parts which are:

  • Summary
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Relevance

However, you can miss some parts, only if it is instructed to.

The details of completing these parts are discussed in the next section, so feel free to scroll down.

  • Summary

    Presenting the summary of the source is the very first, as well as the most important part of the annotation section of the bibliography.

    This section requires the summarization of the data, arguments, facts or findings presented by the author/ authors in their research work.

    Be careful about the length of this part, as most of the time half of the total length of the annotation is required for the summary section.

  • Analysis

    The next part of the annotation is the analysis of the source.

    Confused how you can do the analysis?

    Well, we are here to guide you through all the details.

    In the analysis section, you have to discuss the expertise or qualifications of the authors, which made them able to write about the topic or subject.

    You can also mention the little details about the authority of the authors which contributed to their knowledge or understanding of the project.

    In short, the purpose of this section is to show that some layman is not sharing his/her views in the article or book, but the thought and knowledge are coming from some expert, who is well familiar with the field.

  • Evaluation

    The next section of the annotation is the evaluation of the source.

    You need to evaluate the claims, arguments, and findings of the author or authors shared in their research work.

    You have to depict the understanding, in the light of your paper or project and share if the two discussions or presentations seem to go hand in hand.

    The length of this part can be only two to three sentences if more is not instructed by your teacher.

  • Relevance

    The last part of the annotation, as well as annotated bibliography, is the description of the relevance of the selected source with your particular paper or project.

    You have to state how the source is related to your research and how it can help and guide you in completing the paper.

Annotated Bibliography Examples

Composing an annotated bibliography is not very simple. We get that! As complicated as it might seem, it becomes easy with proper guidance. Below, we have added some sample annotated bibliographies to help you understand how to write one properly.

Annotated Bibliography Examples (PDF)

Hopefully, this guide would have helped you in formatting your bibliography. If you need more help with writing bibliography in different styles including APA, MLA and Chicago, here are some more annotated bibliography examples.

Types of Annotated Bibliography

Besides annotated bibliographies in different citation formats, you can find them in different types also. There are 4 different and main types of annotated bibliographies. All of these types have distinct features and knowing about them will help you understand your teacher’s instructions in a better manner.

We have discussed and explained all the 4 types of annotated bibliography below:

Descriptive Annotated Bibliography

A descriptive type of annotated bibliography is also known as an indicative annotated bibliography. As the name suggests, a descriptive annotated bibliogra[hy provides a brief summary and explanation of the given citation or reference.

It includes:

  • Main theme and content of the citation
  • A brief summary of the significant and main points

The respective type of annotated bibliography is quite simple and will take less time to write and create.

Evaluative Annotated Bibliography

Also known as a critical annotated bibliography, an evaluative type of annotation analyzes the given citation. Probably the most detailed of the types, and evaluative annotated bibliography includes everything from the summary of the main ideas, critical judgment and positive or negative views.

This kind of annotation starts with the discussion of the main focus and theme of the citation and moves on to more in-depth details. As a final word, the writer, or student, adds his personal views regarding the citation.

Below are some important points that you should consider when writing this kind of annotated bibliography:

  • How does the citation add to the study of the respective topic’s literature?
  • How does it compare with other works and research?
  • What are the qualifications of the writer or the author?
  • How biased or neutral is the writer?
  • What are the strong and weak points of the study?
  • How accurate is the information presented in it?
  • Is it suitable for your intended audience?
  • How useful is it for your paper and research?

Answer all of these questions before adding a source into your paper.

Informative Annotated Bibliography

Like the indicative type of annotated bibliography, this kind of bibliography also provides a summary of the citation. However, it does not give any views or comments about the content of the source. In simple terms, it presents the actual information including the hypotheses, proof and the researched data.

This kind of annotation is completely neutral and includes the following things only:

  • The thesis of the study
  • The main argument or hypotheses of the selected study
  • The proofs that have been added into the study
  • Results of the study

This kind of annotation does not include the writer’s personal views as it is completely based on what the study is about.

Combination Annotated Bibliography

Most of the annotated bibliographies are a combination of the two or more kinds of annotated bibliographies. Since many of them include the writer’s personal view at the end of it, they combine at least two kinds of annotations.

Each year, hundreds of students come to us to get their custom annotated bibliography assignment help. We help them understand different kinds of an annotated bibliography and provide custom writing help.

Annotated Bibliography Topics

Though you do not need to find annotated bibliography topics separately, some students do need some help with them. To prepare their annotated bibliography, students often choose topics similar to the ones that are given below:

  • Thesis based Masters is more beneficial than coursework based. Discuss the statement.
  • Water pollution is damaging marine life. How true is the statement?
  • Eating alkaline foods is more beneficial for the human body.
  • Strengthening our immune system is the best way of fighting off diseases.
  • Crash dieting is the reason for a number of health issues in teenagers and young adults.
  • Reading helps our brains to improve and develop. Discuss.
  • Pros and cons of taking writing as a profession.
  • Role reversal is one of the significant themes in gender studies. Discuss.
  • Investing in education and healthcare is optimal for a nation's development.
  • Role of cottage industries in the improvement of the economy.

Writing an annotated bibliography could be a challenging task for many students. It is more detail-oriented and the teacher expects you to explain the research sources and citations that are used in your work. If having any difficulties, getting help from professional assistance is a great way to understand how to write an annotated bibliography and submit your assignment on time.

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