An Annotated Bibliography provides additional information (such as summary or evaluation) for each source listed. Composing an annotated bibliography helps students learn about and explore their research topics, create connections between sources, and synthesize the information. Additionally, an annotated bibliography helps other researchers interested in the topic or conducting their own research on the same or similar topics by evaluating the usefulness of each source. Researchers will not want to waste their time with out of date or inadequate sources, so they often look to annotated bibliographies as a guide.
Writers list each source’s publication information just as they would for a working bibliography, works cited page, or reference list. The order of the publication information will depend upon the style of formatting (APA, CMS, or MLA). What makes an Annotated Bibliography different from a working bibliography, works cited page, or reference list is the additional information included.
Depending on the requirements for the assignment or writing situation, an annotated bibliography will include one, two, or all of the following after each bibliographic citation or entry:
A Summary of the source’s main topic. This includes the author’s perspectives, ideas, and the main points he or she makes.
An Evaluation of the source, which usually responds to the following questions: How useful was the source? Was the source up to date, or have advances in the field made the information out dated or obsolete? How does this source compare to other sources on the same topic?
A Reflection on how the source fits with your research topic, question, and focus. The reflection is where the writer can connect the individual source to his or her overall research, the writing process, and the progression of his or her ideas.
The length of the summary, evaluation, and reflection will vary depending on the depth of the paper and the requirements of the assignment. Usually, each component receives a couple sentences, but they do not all need to be the same length. If the focus of the assigned annotated bibliography is the types of sources, then the summary and evaluation will be longer and more in-depth. If the focus is to synthesize the information (or internalize and process the ideas), then the evaluation and reflection will be longer and more in-depth.
Each component appears in paragraph format below its source’s entry or citation in the bibliography.
This is an example from a longer Annotated Bibliography
This is an example of a shorter Annotated Bibliography
Source: Images of annotated bibliographies are courtesy of Conan Kmiecik