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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Over the years, many scholars have faced the issue of not being conversant with the knowledge of an annotated bibliography format. In this article, we'll focus mainly on the steps of how to write an annotated bibliography, answer the question "What is an annotated bibliography?" and add examples for more understanding. Though like most assignments, annotated compilations aren't any different. They require thorough investigation; therefore, as much as we'll show how to write this bibliography, you also need to take a personal initiative to be careful with your investigation. With that, here are the instructions for the annotated bibliography format.

Definition of an Annotated Bibliography

For a long time, the question "What is an annotated bibliography?" has been commonly asked by scholars globally. Well, an annotated bibliography is an account of one's investigation concerning a specific subject, and with the same bibliography format, all the resources are listed alphabetically. The difference between the annotated bibliography and other articles is that it gives precise data concerning the source's importance and summary's assessment. Depending on what you're assigned, the report might either be independent or dependent on another more significant investigation conspiracy.

What Are Their Purposes?

Depending on the task given, an annotated bibliography has various purposes:

  • Provides a literal review on specific subjects
  • Helps in the theory formation of a subject
  • Demonstrates the investigation, done on a specific subject
  • Gives examples of primary data sources concerning a subject
  • Describes the items that other investigators may find interesting concerning a specific subject.

Choosing Sources

As you are learning how to write an annotated bibliography for article, it's essential to know that the importance and uniqueness of a compilation rest entirely on how you've selected your resources. Begin with the definition of your investigation carefully, so you'll be able to determine what should be added and removed in your article. Try to make your work comprehensive within reasonable boundaries, and these are some of the questions you need to take seriously:

  • What issue is being looked into? Which subjects are you following? If you intend to include a bibliography, then it should be led with a question. If your catalog is independent of a general subject, then you need to begin your work with a series of questions for more specific investigation definitions. An example is: How has the German law changed, affecting Middle East refugees? How have these changes influenced the refugees?
  • What kind of data am I searching for? Which academic journals, magazines, and books are relevant to my subject's investigation?
  • Am I finding essential studies regarding my topic? (To stand out, you need to read carefully and see what resources other authors are using and be watchful for reviews that have been referred, by several different sources.

A Synopsis of Your Source's Argument

Footnotes for brief periods are used to restate the source's primary argument. A footnote of an academic source gives the theory an identity of its exclusive methods of investigation and the main final thoughts. Always remember that knowing the source's argument is different from giving a description or putting down its contents.

Example: Only Gives the Contents

James. H. Anderson (2010). Middle East Refugees "Equal Rights."

This article talks about the recent constitutional discussions concerning the rights of Middle East refugees in Germany. It also discusses the decisions made by the Supreme Court concerning the equality of refugees (2010).

These reading strategies can give you enough closure on identifying your source's argument:

  • Get to know the author's theory or conspiracy's question. Both the conclusions and introductions should be used in accomplishing this task.
  • Look for any repeating terms or critical points and continuously use them to understand the thesis which the author is driving.
  • Notice how the article has been organized and track down the primary sections. Why? Because it will be useful for your argument's synopsis and listing of contents.
  • Be careful and note how the theory is being interpreted, what is included in the sections, and how they are to be inspected.
  • Be attentive to every paragraph's opening where writers usually mention the section briefly, especially the primary point of the article.
  • Look for photos that will act as your claim's summary. A section may start or end with such a paragraph.

Importance and Value Assessment of Sources

Your bibliography should briefly assess the source's value to the investigation process, be it a question or an issue. If your literature is a part of your conspiracy, then concisely show what you intend to do with the source and the reason why. If the conspiracy's independent, then assess the contribution towards the subject's investigation by the source:

  • Are you interested in the way investigation questions are formed or the method of how that question is going to be answered?
  • Are you interested to see just how a key concept or theoretical framework is used in a source?
  • Is the source used in gathering and analysis of the evidence that is to be used?
  • How do the source's conclusions affect the investigation?

For you to fully determine how it is, you'll use the source for contribution definition. You'll have to assess the argument's quality and the reason it's of value. How well have you defined the investigation problem? What are the drawbacks? Why is the investigation valuable? How competent is the evidence? From the evidence, can you come up with the same final thoughts? How thorough are your investigative techniques?

Keep your investigation's context in mind and how the material needs to be assessed, and finally, the models required to evaluate your claims in the course resources.

Various Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies are used in many variations. Pay attention to the needs of your assignment, and these are some of the possible changes:

  • Some jobs need you to both evaluate and summarize the points.
  • Some tasks require you to take note of the comment patterns and the similarity between the sources and other functions that are to be independently treated.
  • If the bibliography is lengthy, make it your considerations to organize it in sections. Categorize your work to help your audience identify the investigation question.
  • Some tasks may need you to add a preface in your bibliography with a paragraph showing your investigation scope and giving a rationale for the source selection.

What's the Difference Between Footnotes and Abstracts?

This question has been frequently asked over the years by learners of all levels. Well, to start with, an abstract deals with descriptive summaries that are found in every scholarly journal, specifically at the beginning. In periodical indexes, footnotes have a critical and explanatory nature which might be used in explaining the author's view concerning expressive clarity and appropriateness.

The Process Used

Coming up with an annotated bibliography needs the application of various intellectual skills: brief exposition, well-investigated data, and analysis. Start by locating the record quotations to books, documents, periodicals, which may have useful data concerning your subject. Examine briefly and choose the works which give a variety of perspectives concerning the matter.

Have the book article document quoted with the necessary style. With a brief footnote, summarize a central theme together with the scope of the article/book. Include a few more sentences with the authority evaluation and the author's background. Leave comments for the intended audience, compare your work to another you have quoted and finally leave an explanation of why this work affects your annotated bibliography subject.

The Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Majorly there are two types of bibliographies, and they are:

  1. Informative/descriptive
  2. Critical/analytical


The descriptive/informative annotated bibliography is the one that gives a description or briefly summarizes the source. It describes the reason as to why a specific source is useful when it comes to investigating a specific subject. It has distinctive features that give the audience a clear view concerning the author's main arguments without evaluating what the author's final thoughts are.

Here is an annotated bibliography example:

Breeding a High Generation (2007 June 21st). The Idealist 345 (789)

This editorial is from the Idealist, and it gives a thorough description of video games and how it affects those who play them. The author points out that new media critics are mostly people who are above 35, and it's an issue where generations cannot understand each other. As today's youth grows older, there are high chances that the controversy will come to an end.

The author emphasizes that the age factor is the main reason that opposes the popularity of video games. He also stresses the fact that excellent gaming has transformed the lives of many people. This article is purposely meant for the general audience because it argues on both sides of different generations.

With that, take a closer look at the final sentences as they point out the article's distinctive features and not the author's conclusion.


An analytical/critical footnote only gives a synopsis of the material being said. It also shows the distinctive features concerning an item and also analyses the author's final thoughts. Most annotated bibliographies focus on the analytical investigation that's conducted.

Now that you've started writing your own annotated bibliography, you should consider the following instructions:

  • Select Your Resources: Before starting your annotated bibliography, you need to choose appropriately the sources that you're going to use. This involves investigating, just like any other conspiracy, and locating materials that are linked to the subject at hand.
  • Have the Items Reviewed: Review the actual issues and choose the perspectives concerning your subject provided it's on a full variety scale. Article abstracts are helpful in many processes.
  • Write the Citation and Footnote: As you begin writing the footnote, you first must complete the quotation, then you can continue the footnote. Depending on the type of bibliography you're doing, it will be prudent to have the following points considered:
  1. The work's purpose
  2. The content's summary
  3. The kind of audience that the work is directed to
  4. The subject's relevance
  5. The unique features concerning the material
  6. Excellent and wrong biases concerning the content.

According to the preference of your tutor, an annotated bibliography example can be arranged either chronologically or alphabetically. Therefore, it's essential to check what they prefer.

Instructions Concerning Formatting Quotations

Always remember that citations can be formatted appropriately. Guidelines concerning the APA, MLA, and Chicago style can be acquired at the UMUC Library. If that's still unsatisfactory, then you can seek more advice from your tutor.

  • Majorly most quotations are done using the APA format
  • Footnotes should be half an inch indented. This is to allow the authors to shift the text to the left entirely.

Creation of an Annotated Bibliography

Like any other article, an investigation has always been paramount; therefore, concerning your conspiracy, make sure you've packed up with data.

Every source in your bibliography should be quoted with the APA format. Ensure that under each source you've got at least two paragraphs.

  • The first paragraph — Here is where a synopsis of the article is to be placed. Don't just cut and paste the article's abstract.
  • The second paragraph — Here should be a small discussion of how the source is linked with the given subject. It should entail what the implication provides that backs up the argument. It can be in the form of statistical data, specific examples, expert testimonies that your subject can easily relate with.


Always remember, as you learn how to write an annotated bibliography for article that a clear and concise summary is important. Any other form of publication offers enough data to provide a reader decision on whether to finish the work. There is a difference between an abstract and footnote as much as they both summarize an article.

A footnote is more than just a synopsis or any other publication because it offers a distinctive description concerning an item. Footnotes can be critical and evaluative in different forms, unlike an abstract. Majorly, the footnote has arranged lists like an alphabetical one. It's different from another bibliography because its implication is followed by a paragraph length of which, in this case, it's only 150-250 words.

With that, we hope that you've learned a great deal concerning how to write an annotated bibliography.

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