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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

What is it?

As the name implies, the annotated bibliography consists of two elements: the bibliography and the annotations. These two elements are blended together so that each citation is followed by an annotation.

The bibliography is a list of works cited in MLA, APA or another citation style; the annotations describe responses to the content of the citation. Annotations can be long or short, but their purpose is to make clear to a reader what was in the article or book cited and in some cases, the researcher's response to it.

This response should reflect the researcher's larger purpose in composing the bibliography. A typical annotation consists of:
✦ a summary of the content 
✦ relevance of the cited work to the research topic 
✦ whether the authors of the cited work achieved their goal 
✦ whether the material was either inadequate or original and groundbreaking, and why.

All these elements are not required however. It is up to you to decide what to include.

The form of the annotation is a piece of prose writing. It may help to think of it as a narrative of your response to the article or book you read.

Examples

Make sure you find out from your instructor what citation style she requires. Set up your works cited list accordingly, and insert the annotations following each entry.

Examples in MLA Style


The citations and formatting of the bibliography should follow the current MLA Style guide, which is the 9th edition. Your instructor may prefer an earlier edition, so find out before you start.

Annotated Bibliography 

Book by one author: (note, the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.)

Vickery, Amanda. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, 1998.

The Gentleman's Daughter provides an account of the lives of genteel women - the daughters of merchants, the wives of lawyers and the sisters of gentlemen. Based on a study of the letters, diaries and account books of over 100 women from commercial, professional and gentry families, mainly in provincial England, this book provides an account of the lives of genteel women in Georgian times. It challenges the currently influential view that the period witnessed a new division of the everyday worlds of privileged men and women into the separate spheres of home and work.

Works Cited List, (bibliography)

Book by one author:

Vickery, Amanda. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, 1998.