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How to prepare an annotated bibliography

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journal articles, Web sites, etc.) that you have consulted in order to write a paper.

An annotated bibliography differs from a standard bibliography. For each source listed you will need to provide descriptive or evaluative comments (i.e., annotations).

Information to include in an annotation

Depending on your assignment guidelines, you may have to:

  • Describe the content of the source
  • Mention why the source is useful
  • Indicate any strengths or weaknesses of the source
  • Evaluate the overall reliability of the source; you can do this by looking at:
    • The author's conclusions and how he/she arrived at them
    • The references consulted
  • Describe your reaction to the source

Format of an annotated bibliography?

Your instructor may have indicated a particular citation style guide to use. If not, consult one of the main citation style guides such as MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian (see other sources below for call numbers and locations to these guides).

Consult these style guides to format your bibliography correctly.

Most bibliographies organize items alphabetically by the author's last name. Use a citation style guide to determine what information to include for each item. Your annotation should appear right after or below the citation.

Example according to MLA

Chrisholm, Patricia. "The ADD dilemma." Maclean's 11 Mar. 1996: 42-44. Print. This magazine article looks at the use of Ritalin in Canada. Specifically it covers the drug's side effects, why there is so much debate surrounding its use and how teachers have come to rely on it to control problem students. The article is based on information taken from interviews, statistics and studies that were conducted. Overall, it is well written and well researched.

Notice that the first part of the annotation is descriptive and that the last sentence is a brief evaluation.

Kirkey, Sharon. "Jury's still out on Ritalin." The Gazette 27 Dec. 2001: A1. Print. This newspaper article focuses on a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about the short and long-term effects of using Ritalin. The information comes from a reputable source and is based upon fact. This article was useful for my research as it helped support my idea that Ritalin may not be the answer for treating children with ADD.

Notice that the first few sentences of the annotation discuss the reliability of the article while the last sentence relates to its usefulness.

Mercogliano, Chris. Teaching the Restless: One School's Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to Helping Children Learn and Succeed. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003. Print. Mercogliano describes how depending on medication, such as Ritalin, to treat students with attention deficit disorders may not be the right approach. The book also calls into question how teachers deal with students who have ADD.

Notice that this entire annotation is descriptive.

Examples according to APA

Chrisholm, P. (1996, March 11). The ADD dilemma. Maclean's, 109, 42-44.

This magazine article looks at the use of Ritalin in Canada. Specifically, it covers the drug's side effects, why there is so much debate surrounding its use and how teachers have come to rely on it to control problem students. The article is based on information taken from interviews, statistics and studies that were conducted. Overall, it is well written and well researched.

Kirkey, S. (2001, November 27). Jury's still out on Ritalin. The Gazette, A1.

This newspaper article focuses on a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about the short and long-term effects of using Ritalin. The information comes from a reputable source and is based upon fact. This article was useful for my research as it helped support my idea that Ritalin may not be the answer for treating children with ADD.

Mercogliano, C. (2003). Teaching the restless: One school's remarkable no-Ritalin approach to helping children learn and succeed. Boston: Beacon Press.

Mercogliano describes how depending on medication, such as Ritalin, to treat students with attention deficit disorders may not be the right approach. The book also calls into question how teachers deals with students who have ADD.

Additional sources for preparing annotated bibliographies

The Chicago Manual of Style (also available online), 16th ed., 2010 (refer to page 687).
Z 253 U69 2010
WEB & VAN Reference Desk

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., 2009 (refer to page 133).
LB 2369 G53 2009
WEB Reference & WEB Reserve; VAN Reference Desk

Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography, 2nd ed., 2000.
Z 1001 H33 2000
WEB Reference

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., 2010.
BF 76.7 A46 2010
WEB Reference; WEB Ref. Desk & WEB Reserve; VAN Reference; VAN Ref. Desk & VAN Reserve

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed., 2007 (refer to page 148).
LB 2369 T8 2007
WEB Reference & WEB Reserve; VAN Reference Desk

For more information, ask a librarian.

 
page last updated on: Thursday 21 August 2014
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