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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?

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

An annotated bibliography is a detailed list of references. Besides the references, it also contains a brief explanation of the given reference. It is different from a simple list of references that include the works only.

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 an annotated bibliography even for the term papers and research essays. So, always make sure that you check with your instructor before you start working on your research project.

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.

Annotated Bibliography Template

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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, 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.

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 websites for your annotated bibliography, or paper.

Do Background Research

Once you have selected the sources, go through the details of the sources carefully. 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 does not seem related, you can change and replace it with some other suitable one. 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.

Select the Writing Style

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

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

Start Writing

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

  • 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 have to follow this pattern when working on your annotated bibliography assignment.

Edit and Proofread

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

Many students think that this step is not important. There is a high possibility that you may miss some minor errors. When submitted unedited, these minor mistakes could result in a low grade on your paper. Therefore, it is important that you edit and proofread your assignment one last time before submitting it.

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 on important points.

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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/ authors in their research work. Be careful about the length of this part, it should be half of the length of the entire annotation.

  • Analysis

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

    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.

    You can also mention the little details about the authority of the authors due to which they were able to contribute to the respective 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 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 then 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.

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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 Examples

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

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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 4 types 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 bibliography 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, 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 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.

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 bibliography and provide custom writing help.

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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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