Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Annotated Bibliography - An Easy Guide With Examples & Topics

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Published on: Mar 9, 2018

Last updated on: Dec 28, 2022

writing an annotated bibliography

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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 us, you have got enough time and definitely the support to get it done on time.

Read the blog to get complete information about creating an annotated bibliography.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

The annotated bibliography can be defined as, “Reference list, along with their short description of three to four sentences. ”

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources that includes a brief explanation. Unlike your average reference, it also contains more detailed information about each individual source.

It is the perfect way to show off your research. Countless hours have been spent tracking down and compiling sources, so take advantage of that hard work by using annotation to get credit for all your efforts.

An annotated bibliography is an important part of thesis work and dissertations. Creating an annotated bibliography can differ based on the different formatting styles.

Though it may be tempting to goof off during class, your instructor might ask you to write an annotated bibliography for all of your papers and essays. So before diving into any research project, make sure that you check in with the professor about what format they want.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the instructions for your annotated bibliography can change, depending on what you are told. Pay close attention!

What Does an Annotated Bibliography Do?

An annotation is an evaluation or summary of the given reference. Based on what you are writing, an annotated bibliography can do several things or all of the things given below.

  • Summarize - Some annotations only summarize the article or book. What arguments does this article have? What is the point of this book? What topics are covered in this article?

    The length of your annotation will depend on how well you have explained the source.

  • Assess - After you summarize a source, it is helpful to think about how useful the source is. Is this a good source? Does it have any bias or distortion in the information that this author provides? What do other sources say about this topic?
  • Reflect - Once you have summarized and assessed a source, think about how it helps your research. For example, does the source help you shape an argument? Does it change the way you think about your topic?


Lhachimi, S.K., and Cole, K.J. (2015) Health impacts of increasing alcohol prices in the European Union: A dynamic projection. Preventive Medicine. 55(3), pp.237-243.

This research looks at the health impact of alcohol and whether increasing the price would affect its consumption.

The quantitative methodology uses alcohol consumption and disease data to plot changes in the health of the population.

The authors conclude that increasing the price of alcohol would reduce significant numbers of alcohol-related deaths and lead to a reduction in chronic diseases.

Therefore, reducing excessive drinking could result in significant gains in the health of the general population.


The article appears to be written to inform health professionals who work with alcohol-dependent people.

The data presented by the authors is informative. However, the data collection method could be considered flawed due to the small sample groups.

The research also appears to be predictive and, therefore, may be considered biased.

ReflectionThe results and conclusions could be used by health professionals to inform the general public of the benefits of raising the price of alcohol using the data presented.

Your annotated bibliography could include other things also. Make sure that you discuss everything with your instructor before you work on your assignment.

Why Should I Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Many students do not know the purpose of writing an annotated bibliography. Why do the teachers assign such assignments? What is there to learn? How do they help you learn better?

An annotated bibliography is helpful in the following ways.

  • It helps you learn your topic better - An annotated bibliography is a list of sources used for research. If you make an annotated bibliography, you will have to read the sources closely instead of just collecting them.
    This is good practice because it forces you to think critically about what you are reading and not just taking information from the source. It also allows you to see what others have done in this field and where your own work can fit in with what has been done already.
    An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you read. This can help you see what other people think about your topic. Then you can make up your own opinion.
  • It will help other researchers also - Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies provide a list of everything important that has been said about that topic. It is not necessary that your annotated bibliography is published, but as a researcher, you might be interested in finding one for your topic.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step by Step?

One of the basic and essential questions of most of the students is how to write an annotated bibliography, which also means that you are not the only one who is looking for an answer.

Here are the steps involved in creating an annotated bibliography.

  1. Select the Sources

    The very first step is to select the sources which would be used for doing the thesis, dissertation, or even the term paper.

    How many sources should I add?’ If you are writing a research essay of three pages, it would be safe to pick four sources for your annotated bibliography unless your professor has instructed you to a specific number of references.

    The sources should be scholarly and peer-reviewed, or in other words, you cannot just randomly pick sources or bibliographic information for your annotated bibliography or paper.

  2. Do Background Research

    Doing the background research of the sources means that you have to find the suitability of the sources. Moreover, you will need to see if they are relevant to your research question.

    If the source seems irrelevant, change it. The purpose of the annotated bibliography is to explain how the source would help you in writing your paper and this is why the selected sources should be relevant.

  3. Select the Writing Style

    Usually, students have to format their assignments according to one of the most common writing styles; ChicagoMLA, or APA. However, students studying in Chemistry, Physics, Medical and other specialty fields may have to follow different writing styles.

    Read the guidelines again and make sure that you follow the instructed writing or referencing style.

  4. Start Writing

    Below are the steps involved in writing the annotated bibliography.

    • List down the citations of the sources according to the assigned writing style.
    • 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.

    Follow this pattern when working on your annotated bibliography assignment.

  5. Edit and Proofread

    Check the content for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure errors. Your content must make perfect sense, and it should not miss out on important points. When submitted unedited, these minor mistakes could result in a low grade on your paper.

    Therefore, you must edit and proofread your assignment one last time before submitting it.

What is an Annotated Bibliography Format?

An annotated bibliography has two parts; citation and annotation. The citation is the reference that you will explain in the following part, and the annotation is the explanation and analysis of the given citation.

To know how to format and write both the parts, read on.


The citation of the source that you will analyze in the annotation part. The reference will be as per the paper’s chosen writing style and will contain:

  • 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
  • Date when you accessed the source

The sequence of the details will vary in the writing and reference style.


Annotation is the detailed description of the source, in addition to how it is relevant to the paper. Annotation consists of four essential parts, which are:

  • Summary
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Relevance

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

  • Summary

    This section will include the summarized details of the data, arguments, facts, or findings presented by the author(s) in their research work. Be careful about the length of this part; it should be half of the length of the entire annotation.

  • Analysis

    In the analysis section, you will discuss the expertise or qualifications of the authors, which prove their credibility and make them eligible to write about the topic or subject.

    In short, the purpose of this section is to show some layman is not sharing his views in the article or book. Instead, the thought and knowledge are coming from an expert.

  • Evaluation

    You will evaluate the claims, arguments, and findings of the author in this section. Explain what you have learned from the respective source and explain how it is relevant to your research.

    The length of this part should not exceed two to three sentences. However, if your instructor has told you to add more details here, you can increase its length.

  • Relevance

    The last part of the annotation, as well as the annotated bibliography, is the description of the relevance of the selected source. How well is it relevant to your research? How has it helped your research? What new information has it added to your paper?

    All of these details will go in this section.

Annotations vs. Abstracts - How Do They Differ?

Many students wrongly assume that an annotation is like an abstract. Annotations involve both the description and critical evaluation of the source, while an abstract is a summary that is added at the beginning of periodicals and scholarly journals and articles. They may look similar, but they are different and serve different purposes also.

Annotated Bibliography Examples

Composing an annotated bibliography is not very simple. 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 - MLA Style

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.

The authors (people who write books) are from the Rand Corporation and Brown University. They use data from a survey to see if people who live with other people or not their family have different attitudes, values, plans, and expectations than those who live with their family.

The researchers found that their hypothesis was supported in young females, but not so much for young males.

Living away from family might affect how you think about sex roles. People who live away from their families are more independent and self-sufficient. They also have different views on families. In contrast, Williams' study found no difference in gender attitudes because of living away from the family home.

Here is a template for your MLA style annotated bibliography;

MLA style annotated bibliography template

Annotated Bibliography - APA Style

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. Henry Holt and Company.

This is a book about whether people can live on minimum wage in America. Ehrenreich tried to find out if this was possible.

The author did three jobs. The first was being a waitress. The second was cleaning houses with a service. And the third job was at Walmart as an employee.

She writes about her experiences in each of these jobs and what it was like to work there.

Ehrenreich is an experienced journalist. She knows that there are limitations to her experiment and there are also ethical implications of her experiential research tactics. In the text, Ehrenreich reflects on these issues. 

The author is upfront about her methods and supplements the work that she has done with scholarly research on various other sources. Her project was timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

Refer below to get an APA format annotated bibliography template:

APA style annotated bibliography template

Annotated Bibliography - Chicago Style

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess. London: Routledge, 1998.

In his book, Davidson explores the many facets of Northern European pagan goddesses. From their pivotal roles in hunting to those played out inside homes and even death, he paints a vivid picture that captures how these powerful female figures were integral parts of everyday life for people living centuries ago.

The book explores the ancient world through archaeological evidence, patterns in symbols, and rituals from previous research. It includes valuable black-and-white photos to illustrate the author's point.

Here is a Chicago style annotated bibliography template:

Chicago style annotated bibliography template

Some more annotated bibliography examples will help you get started with your assignment and complete it successfully and on time.

Types of Annotated Bibliography

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 four types below:

  1. Descriptive Annotated Bibliography

    A descriptive type of annotated bibliography is also known as an indicative annotated bibliography. It 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

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


    Griffin, C. Williams, ed. (1982). Teaching writing in all disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Ten essays about the writing curriculum, teaching writing in other disciplines, and techniques for using writing to learn. They include Toby Fulwiler's "Writing: An Act of Cognition"; Barbara King's "Using Writing in Mathematics Class: Theory and Practice"; Dean Drenk's "Teaching Finance Through Writing"; and Elaine Maimon's "Writing Across the Curriculum: Past, Present, and Future."

    (Bizzell and Herzberg, 1991, p. 47)

  2. Evaluative Annotated Bibliography

    An evaluative bibliography judges the content. They are very detailed, and they judge whether the source is good or bad. It provides a detailed analysis and includes everything from summarizing the main ideas to critical judgment and opinions about the work.

    This kind of annotation starts with discussing 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.


    Gurko, Leo. (1968). Ernest Hemingway and the pursuit of heroism. New York: Crowell.

    This book is about a writer from the 20th century named Hemingway. He wrote many books and was famous for writing about his life. There is a quick summary of him at the beginning, but then it gets into his work. There are two sections to this book: biography and works by Hemingway.

    The biography is short, easy to read, and sounds like it's just telling you what happened in his life without giving any details or going deep into anything. The section on his work goes over every one of his books in detail and also tells you how they were received by critics when they were published.

    (Spatt, 1991, p. 322)

    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 essay and research paper?

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

  3. Informative Annotated Bibliography

    Like the indicative type of annotated bibliography, this kind of bibliography also provides a summary of the source. 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 hypothesis, 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 hypothesis of the selected study
    • The proofs that have been added to 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.


    Voeltz, L.M. (1980). Children’s attitudes toward handicapped peers. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 455-464.

    The socialization of disabled children in schools has been a hot topic for many years. We've seen more and more services made available to these kids as they come into contact with them regularly, which is prompting new questions about how their attitudes will change over time.

    A study of 2,392 children found four factors that affect their attitudes towards kids with disabilities. The first factor is social-contact willingness: how willing they are to have contact and play with others who may be different than them?

    The second factor is deviance consequation: the likelihood that an individual will act in ways that could result in being excluded or bullied by other kids for engaging with someone outside one's typical peer group.

    Thirdly, there were two different kinds of contact that were measured - both how to communicate during interactions and how to deal with people who have needs that are different than most people.

    This is a study that shows that children who are in schools with severely handicapped peers, or girls, have more accepting attitudes. We must develop interventions to help these children accept people with different abilities.

    (Sternlicht and Windholz, 1984, p. 79)

  4. Combination Annotated Bibliography

    Most of the annotated bibliographies are a combination of 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 annotated bibliographies and provide custom writing help.


    Morris, Joyce M. (1959). Reading in the primary school: An investigation into standards of reading and their association with primary school characteristics. London: Newnes, for National Foundation for Educational Research.

    The report explores how large-scale English children’s reading standards are related to conditions - size classes, organization types, and methods of teaching. 60 schools from Kent were surveyed where the kids were learning English as their first language.

    Studying everything about these kids included meticulous research techniques that explored whether there was any correlation between family background or the social environment that affected their learning process.

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 used in your work.

If you are having any difficulties, get help from a professional essay writer service. Professional annotated bibliography writers can solve your worries! provides a great annotated bibliography writing service and submit your assignment on time. 

Get in touch with our best writing services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does an annotated bibliography go at the end of a paper?

Yes, an annotated bibliography will go at the end of the paper. It is like any other page of references or bibliography, with the only difference that it will accompany an explanation paragraph. Otherwise, an annotated bibliography is your paper’s detailed list of references. 

Does an annotated bibliography need a conclusion?

No, you do not need to add a separate conclusion in your annotated bibliography. It will have a single and well-detailed paragraph only that speaks of the given source. But it is quite possible that your teacher asks you to add a short conclusion of 1 to 2 lines with your annotation. 

What is the main advantage of writing an annotated bibliography?

By writing an annotated bibliography, you can evaluate the credibility and authority of your sources. It is helpful because when it comes time for writing a paper or any other project, you will know which sources can help provide accurate information. 

An annotated bibliography works for both research-based and personal kinds of papers. 

It also gives people who do not have experience with certain subjects insight into what is going on by allowing them to read about past thought processes behind these ideas as well as their influences. 

What is the difference between an annotated bibliography and works cited?

An annotated bibliography is a detailed list of references or works cited. The works cited, references, and bibliography would include the list of works only. However, in a bibliography, all the works that you have studied while writing your paper, whether you have cited them in your paper or not. 

Is an annotated bibliography double-spaced?

Yes, annotated bibliographies are double-spaced. This includes a space between the title and first entry as well as spaces in between entries. The spacing makes it easier to read, saving time because you don't have to reread what's been written before continuing. 

Should an annotated bibliography have a title page?

If you are making an annotated bibliography as a standalone assignment, yes, it must include a title page. The title page would be according to the chosen referencing style. To make sure that you do not miss anything, check with your instructor and follow the guidelines carefully. 

What are the annotation techniques?

Here are the four common ways of annotating the texts. 

  • Highlighting and underlining 
  • Paraphrasing and summarizing 
  • Descriptive outline 
  • Comments and responses 

Text annotating is a great way of making the most out of your reading. It is an easy way to find important information quickly and look back to what you have learned from the text. 

What can you learn from an annotated bibliography?

Writing an annotated bibliography can help you develop critical reading and synthesizing skills which are important in a variety of fields. 

By identifying the key points of research studies, organizing them accordingly, and writing about their effects on society and individuals. It also helps the students gain valuable knowledge without having to conduct their own study. 

Who is the audience of an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a work created by students for faculty and colleagues. It usually includes the copyright, publication date, and ISBN of an original source document, as well as any annotations or comments on its content.

When writing an annotated bibliography, never copy and paste any of the information from a source. This is considered plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty, which will be frowned upon by faculty members as well as your peers. 

How do you evaluate a source for an annotated bibliography?

Here are the things to consider when evaluating a source;

  • The importance and contribution of the work in the respective field.
  • The writer’s tone and writing style.
  • The authority of the writer.
  • The credibility and accuracy of the source.
  • The limitations of the work.

All of these things will help you evaluate the source properly.

What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography helps the reader see which sources might offer helpful information for their topic of interest while also giving them an overview of each source. A literature review examines as many relevant sources as possible to determine where there is agreement or disagreement about the research topic. 

An annotated bibliography and a literature review are both types of research that can be used to answer different questions, but they serve very specific purposes. 

How long should an annotation be for an annotated bibliography?

Annotations should not be too long. They should be short, clear, and easy to read. They should be no more than 150 words and be well-written and concise. 

Are annotated bibliographies alphabetized?

The annotated bibliography will be alphabetized like a regular Works Cited, References, and Bibliography. It is formatted with the last name of the lead author or, if there is no author, by the first word in the work’s title. 

What is the difference between annotation and summary?

An annotation is a short and critical summary of a text or the source. A summary is more detailed and longer than an annotation and includes quotes and paraphrased content. It can also contain sub-arguments and sub-claims. 

What is the difference between annotation and analysis?

An analysis includes dismantling a piece of content or source and study its different elements like its nature, meaning, significance, and function. An annotation, on the other hand, is a critical analysis of a source. 

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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