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English: Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography Explanation

What is an annotated bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a collection of citations for books, articles, and other documents. Each citation has a brief summary and evaluation of the source. 

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography allows a reader to quickly identify the accuracy, quality, and relevance of a particular sources on a specific topic.

Developing an Annotated Bibliography

Steps for writing an annotated bibliography -

  1. Think about your research question. Write down keywords and terms to help you find sources.
  2. Start your research with the library. Spend some time gathering sources such as books, articles, reports, films, etc.
  3. Briefly read/watch and review the sources to identify good candidates that address your question or topic.
  4. Cite the sources you want to use in your annotated bibliography. Use the citation style your professor has assigned.
  5. Under each citation, write a paragraph that includes the following:
    • brief summary of the article that addresses the main ideas of the article,
    • address the authority or qualifications of the author(s),
    • note any bias from the author(s),
    • explain how this source is relevant to your topic.

Sample Annotation in MLA Format

Sample MLA Annotation

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun.

Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.