Sample Annotated Bibliography, PDF

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a descriptive list and summary of the sources such as books, journal reports, research papers, theses, Ph.D. dissertations, and other references used by a student when researching a topic when preparing for the development of a term paper. The average annotated bibliography contains the citation information of the research work that has a length of 150 words. It also presents the strengths and weaknesses of the source, explains why the source is relevant to one’s field of study and demonstrates its connection to other studies in the research field. 

According to a 2022 statistical report, academic researchers and higher education institutions today use reference management software to let them automatically generate accurate bibliographies and citations. 28% of researchers stated that clear and well-structured annotated bibliography is one of the fundamental aspects of reference management.  That’s why preparing an effective annotated bibliography is important for students in high school, college, university, and graduate school levels to outline the sources, citations, and other references when conducting in-depth research work. 

Basic Definitions of Research Terms and Documentation Styles to Consider When Developing an Annotated Bibliography

If you are starting to develop an annotated bibliography, you need to be familiar with some basic concepts and research terms. This section contains the most widely used terms and writing styles for annotated bibliography.

Source: It refers to any outside material used by the students and other researchers while conducting their research work and writing their research papers. Some examples of sources are books, book chapters, journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, encyclopedia articles or entries, blogs/podcasts, and websites or webpages. They also cite sources from videos, films, TV shows, dissertation evaluations, images, art, government report, and technical reports. Citation/Reference: It is a written identifier of a source as it usually appears in the body of a research paper and a bibliography. Also known as internal or parenthetical references, in-text citations are citations that appear in the body of your research paper, while the citations placed at the bottom of a page are called footnotes or endnotes. Citations in bibliographies are much longer than in-text citations because they provide all the bibliographic information including all the identifiers that readers need in order to locate each source, authors, titles, publisher names, and many others. Bibliography: It is a clear and well-organized list of citations that are often presented alphabetically. The bibliography is called References in research papers written in APA format. In MLA-style research papers, the bibliography is called Works Cited. While, in Chicago-style research papers, it is called Bibliography. Annotation: This means a note about a source. When you annotate, you record notes on a text or artifact. Annotations are usually written in complete sentences. Sometimes, other researchers use bulleted lists. They can be very short or long based on your context and needs. APA Format Bibliography: It is the official writing style of the American Psychological Association (APA). It is used by many psychology professors, students, and researchers when writing bibliographies as they work on their academic papers, essays, articles, or research papers. When you create an APA format bibliography, collect all sources to properly outline and write your paper, and list the references alphabetically by the author’s last name in double-space. Include the year the source was published in parentheses, the title of the source, the journal that published the source in italics, and page numbers in parentheses. Here is an example of a scholarly article in an academic journal cited in APA format: Cattane, N., Rossi, R., & Lanfredi, M. (2017). Borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma: exploring the affected biological systems and mechanisms. BMC Psychiatry, 18(221). doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1383-2MLA Format Bibliography: It is a standard writing format for basic bibliographic information recommended by the Modern Language Association (MLA). When you create an MLA format bibliography, list the entries starting with the author’s last name, the title of the source, additional information, the city of publication, the publishing company, and the date of publication. Take note that the names of publications should be in italics. Use hanging indents in all your MLA citations by making the first line of an entry placed on the left and the second and subsequent lines indented ½”. Here is an example of an MLA format bibliography: Hall, Donald, ed. The Oxford Book of American Literacy Anecdotes. New York: Oxford UP, 1981. Chicago-Style Bibliography: This type of writing style in a bibliography is created by inverting the first author’s name, listing all other authors normally, using headline-style capitalization for titles, using “n.d.” (abbr. for “no date”) if the publication date is not available, placing titles in quotes for short works like articles or italics for long works like books, inserting the word “and” between the authors’ names, using DOIs instead of URLs if they are available, and adding before the DOI. Here is an example of a Chicago-style bibliography: Buzzer, Katie. A Culture. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

One of the essential ways to keep track of information is by using annotated bibliographies. Annotated bibliographies are fundamental tools that help you in organizing the information that you find in various sources and references like APA papers and provide you with a descriptive summary that highlights the accuracy, quality, and relevance of a source. What are some common types of annotated bibliographies used by students and researchers? 

1. Descriptive Annotated Bibliography

A descriptive annotated bibliography is a type of annotated bibliography in which you describe or summarize a source like a book, scholarly article, and others that are beneficial for researching a specific topic or question. Add information about the author, and an explanation of what the book or article includes in terms of charts, images, tables, or other related content. 

2. Summary Annotated Bibliography

In a summary annotated bibliography, you develop a summary of your different sources while describing the major arguments or core points along with wide-ranging topics covered. Demonstrate clearly why this source was integral and made it to the list of your research paper.

3. Evaluation Annotated Bibliography

When you construct an evaluation annotated bibliography, make a comparison and contrast of the source. Why did this one make the cut? Clarify the encompassing goal of the source and why it aligns completely with your research paper. Dig deeper into the reliability of the information and any bias it might have. An evaluation annotated bibliography is used for narrowing a research focus, and for determining which sources best underpin your claims.

4. Combination Annotated Bibliography

This type of annotated bibliography integrates all three types of annotation into your annotated bibliography. Include several descriptive lines, summarize the work, and end your annotated bibliography with an analysis or evaluation of the source. 

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

An effective annotated bibliography contains a reference list with a summary or evaluation of the source. If you want to improve your writing skills and make your writing process faster and easier, learn the fundamental steps in writing a proper annotated bibliography for your research paper.

Step 1: Write the Full Bibliographic Citation

Start each of your entries with a full bibliographic entry. Cite the source or reference in proper APA, MLA, or Chicago style. An APA bibliographic citation shows the author’s name, date of publication, the title of the book in italicized sentence case, the publisher’s location, and the publisher. The MLA format displays the last name and first name of the author, the title of the book in italics, the publishing location, the publisher, the year of publication, and the medium of publication.

Step 2: Define the Authority and Qualifications of the Author

What makes the author an “expert” in the field he or she is writing about? What are their qualifications? Do they have education or work experience in the field? Have they published anything else about the subject? Briefly explain the author’s authority and qualifications while looking up the credentials and affiliations of the author and finding more sources written by the author.

Step 3: Highlight the Subject and Scope of the Work

Write a concise statement to explain what you are covering. Set a context for the bibliography and demonstrate your purpose for gathering the source. Point out the main theme and scope of the work.

Step 4: Outline the Major Information

Describe the main argument of the source. Then, indicate the target audience and identify the research methods if applicable. Specify any conclusions made by the author and discuss the accuracy and reliability of the text. Emphasize any special features of the text that were valuable such as charts, graphs, process maps, and many others.

Step 5: Emphasize the Significance and Evaluation

Explain the relevance or usefulness of the text for your research study. Mention in what way the text connects to concepts or themes in your academic work. Describe the strengths and limitations of the text. After highlighting the significance, express your perspective or feedback evaluation of the text.


What are the different types of annotated bibliographies?

The different types of annotated bibliographies are descriptive or indicative annotated bibliographies, informative or summary annotated bibliographies, analytical or evaluation annotated bibliographies, and combination annotated bibliographies.

What are the major parts of an annotated bibliography?

The major parts of an annotated bibliography are the title, annotation, and citation. The title and citation will differ depending on the writing style you apply. It also contains a summary, analysis, and evaluation. 

How to create an annotated bibliography?

When you create an annotated bibliography, you need to select your sources by searching and documenting citations to books, documents, and periodicals that have noteworthy information and ideas on your research topic. Then, check and examine your items or the things you collected from your search. After that, write the citation and see what style they need for your publication and write a brief and concise annotation while making a summary of the major theme and scope of the article or book.

What are the fundamental steps to annotating?

The fundamental steps to annotating are constructing a summary of the key points of the book report or research paper in your own words, encircling major concepts and phrases, writing short comments and questions in the margins, using abbreviations and symbols, highlighting or underlining, and using comment and highlight features set into digital textbooks, PDFs, or other apps and other browser add-ons.

What is the difference between the APA format and MLA format bibliography?

APA format bibliography uses the author’s name and the year of publication. On the other hand, the MLA format bibliography uses the author’s last name and the page number.

Whether you are reading a book, creating an article analysis, or developing a research paper, it is important to write an annotated bibliography to outline the complete bibliographic details and focus on the key ideas of each source such as the arguments, thesis, major findings, and conclusions. Include some effective, useful, and valuable comments on the work you are assigned like a new research topic or your own research project. We have sample annotated bibliography templates available in APA format, MLA format, and Chicago style that you can easily download and edit depending on your research paper or academic project proposals