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 who are interested in the topic or conducting their own research on it.
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, nor do they all need to be included. 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.
An Annotated Bibliography in APA format will list the sources in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. Multiple works by the same author (or authors with the exact same name) are arranged in chronological order by publication date (the earliest appearing first).
The publication information from each source should be formatted according to the APA guidelines and the type of source it is (book, website, magazine, article, etc.).
The entries use a hanging indent: first line flush with the left margin and any following lines are indented 1/2" or five spaces. The additional information provided for each entry then appears in paragraph form beneath its corresponding entry.
Let's look at an example:
Notice how the annotation in this entry is tailored to fit the assignment.
Let's look at another example:
Notice that the entry for this particular annotated bibliography is tailored for the assignment. The annotations are longer and more in-depth, taking up a page each. The student has included a detailed summary of the source and then uses the "Further Ideas" section to discuss some of the larger applications of this source.