How to Write an Annotated Bibliography. A Complete Guide From A to Z
An annotated bibliography is a type of bibliography where list to citations or quotations are made to books, articles and other documents. It is a document that states the referenced works and provides a short description and evaluation of the selected works called the annotation. A properly researched and well written annotated bibliography tells readers about the accuracy and the quality of the sources cited. Whereas in a bibliography, it just includes a list of sources without a short description and evaluation of the sources.
If you are reading this article, we assume you have received an assignment that you have no idea how to handle. Do not worry just yet! You are definitely not alone in this. Many students don't know exactly what is an annotated bibliography and how to write this kind of assignment, yet it's an obligatory one in many institutions.
Due to stress and a plethora of other academic tasks, students can easily get lost in their notes. That's why the instructions from one or two weeks ago can seem like completely new information once one gets to it. Check out our article and educate yourself on academic writing!
In the following post, you will find a complete tutorial on how to prepare for and write an annotated bibliography. If you are tasked to complete this assignment, either in MLA or APA styles, you will find all the necessary info in this article. Here, we are going to give you some tips & tricks, and, of course, an annotated bibliography example.
Keep on reading and get prepared to be amazed at how easy it is to write this type of work. Don't be intimidated, though. It's really not that scary. The hardest part here is referencing your source, which, if you have prepared at least one academic paper, you already know how to do.
What Is an Annotated Bibliography
An annotated bibliography is a short synopsis of a book, or a journal, or any other source that you have priorly relied upon while preparing an academic paper. The final outcome may turn out differently depending on the format you use, APA or MLA, and on your tutor's demands. Some annotations are meant to analyze a piece of research, some are to summarize it, and others are to deliberate on the application of the said research.
The main difference between annotated bibliography MLA format and APA annotated bibliography format is... You guessed it: format! Those are two entirely different styles, which call for differently formatted sources. Yet, the gist remains the same - you are to either summarize, or analyze, or to provide a reflection on a source. The task given to you by the tutor defines if you need to complete all of the said actions, or just some of them.
Once you figure out how to write an annotated bibliography, it may highly likely become the easiest task on your academic path. The most complicated chunk of this assignment is reading and analyzing the source. Then, as this is done, the only thing left is the formatting. And if you study in college or university, you probably know how to do it. And even if you don't, just check a formatting style guide in your college library, or ask a more knowledgeable friend.
What Is the Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography?
Many people don't understand how writing an annotated bibliography can improve their researching skills. And the answer to that question is fairly simple. Getting to know how to prepare an annotated bibliography will give you the skill of reading between the lines. Instead of going through an entire source, which is tiresome and time-consuming, you will learn to read the keywords and analyze even small book summaries comprehensively.
What does an annotated bibliography look like is another question many aspiring scholars ask. It is basically an extended list of references. To write an annotated bibliography, you need to create a reference page, as you normally would with any other academic task. Whether it is in APA or MLA, you will need a page called References or Works Cited. After you do that, you'll choose the books or journals that you will annotate and add those summaries right after the sources. They are usually indented, just like the references.
So, how do you write an annotated bibliography? This is a question that we will answer in the sections to come. Keep on reading to find out everything related to writing an annotated bibliography. Make yourself a relaxing cup of tea or coffee, get comfortable, and open your precious books. You can start writing the assignment as you read!
How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
What comes as a surprise to most of the students is the fact that writing an annotated bibliography is fairly easy as long as you understand the task your tutor has given you, and what are the three parts of an annotated bibliography that you are to produce. Don't be quick to go googling "how to write an annotated bibliography." The first thing you are to do is look into your brief. This file of one or two pages is sure to answer most of your questions.
Usually, professors specify if you are to provide an analysis of a source itself or to discover its part in the body of research or talk about the author's credentials. If these instructions have not been provided to you, then chances are you need to deliberate on all of the above.
Step 1: Choosing and Analyzing Your Sources
In this section, we will start to answer the question of how to make an annotated bibliography. The first step you need to take when preparing for writing this assignment is choosing your references. While doing this, you need to be attentive and thorough. Just like any part of academic work, it takes diligence and a certain amount of patience.
Since annotated bibliography usually comes as a subtask to preparing a bigger written piece such as a term paper, you need to be sure to only use the references that directly pertain to the theme of the written paper in question. Otherwise, a tutor can potentially reject your paper and deem your annotated bibliography sources irrelevant. Remember that the references for academic research have to be credible. Mostly, people use studies from peer-reviewed journals, as this is the safest bet.
After you've chosen your sources, you are to conduct a thorough analysis of each of the references selected. Regarding the kind of annotations you need to produce, you will have to analyze the text itself, or the part of the overall body of research most relevant to the given topic.
Step 2: Reference the Chosen Source
After you've found your resources and analyzed them, it's time to start the most tedious part of the assignment: annotated bibliography citing. This is the same as making your basic reference list. Open your formatting guide, either MLA or APA, and work referring to it. Start to write down your annotated bibliography citation.
There's really not much of a difference when it comes to writing an annotated bibliography entry in MLA or APA. The only thing that can change is the way the reference itself looks. The format of the annotated citation, however, does not influence the content of the annotation.
Step 3: An Example of the Annotation
Now that we've explained how to do an annotated bibliography, it's time to give you some examples. First, let's look at the annotated bibliography APA format.
Battle, K. (2007). Child poverty: The evolution and impact of child benefits. In Covell, K., &
Howe, R. B. (Eds), A question of commitment: Children's rights in Canada (pp. 21-44). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
The author further develops his research on the benefits of children in Canada. He provides some assumptions that the entire society is to be focused on the children's upbringing as well as preserving their rights. He presents some eye-opening statistics pointing to the fact that the Canadian society has not been as supportive of children's rights as one might assume. Yet, the Battle's reliance on his own research points to the lack of perspective in his work. He could have further enforced his paper by backing up his statements with other authors' publications.
Annotated bibliography MLA format is, in fact, not that different from the example above. The only change here would be in the reference itself. It would look as follows:
Battle, Ken. "Child poverty: The evolution and impact of child benefits." A question of
commitment: Children's rights in Canada edited by Katherine Covell & Brian R.
Howe, Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007, pp. 21-44.
APA Annotated Bibliography
To write an APA format annotated bibliography, the most important step you need to take is arming yourself with an APA style guide. Again, everything depends on your professor's or university's requirements. Sometimes, tutors ask students to use a somewhat outdated format just because this is what they're used to. Pay close attention to the brief, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
In this article, we will teach you how to prepare an APA style annotated bibliography using the seventh version of the manual, which is the latest one.
The hardest part of making an annotated bibliography APA is formatting the reference itself. In this style, you will present the author's last name first, followed by initials, then the book name, with only the first letter capitalized, and the publisher.
If you need to reference a journal publication, different rules apply. Check the screenshots below for more information.
APA Annotated Bibliography Example
In the screenshot above, you can see an example of a proper APA reference to a book, as well as an annotation. Take note of the format used. See how the entire annotation is indented. Then, check the content. The author records the book's genre, main theme of the book as well as its purpose. A brief summary of the content is provided. You can use this is as a perfect APA annotated bibliography template.
Annotated Bibliography MLA
Annotated bibliography MLA format only differs from the MLA in the way reference entries look. To reference a book in MLA, you'll need to find an author's full name and list it after the last name, with a comma. If you need to add a middle name, put the first letter of the middle name after the last name. See the general format below.
"Author. Title. Title of container (do not list container for standalone books, e.g., novels),
Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs URL or DOI). 2nd container's title, Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable)." (source)
MLA annotated bibliography style is mostly used when one needs to write a paper on humanitarian disciplines. Its main peculiarity is that there is no title page. Instead, a shortlist is used to display a student's name, professor, course, and date. Also, when you need to provide a source in the text, you will put a page number in the citation.
MLA Annotated Bibliography Example
Above is an annotated bibliography example formatted in MLA. As you can see, the author has provided an executive summary of the text. It's followed by a thorough analysis of the piece along with the proof of its relevance to the body of research on the topic.
Note that an author's full name is used in the reference, and every notional word of the book title is capitalized. Also, in MLA, the publication date is placed at the end of the reference.
Upon reading this guide, you can create an annotated bibliography MLA template for yourself. This way, every time you need to write such a task, you will already have a foundation to layer your work on top of.
Having Trouble Writing Annotated Bibliography Paper?
We hope this guide has been useful. Just remember to stay confident, read the brief thoroughly, and consult the formatting style guide fairly often. This is an approach that has never failed anyone. Students are facing an immense load of academic assignments, so it's absolutely natural to feel overwhelmed. Looming deadlines hardly ever make one move faster. If anything, people tend to procrastinate even more.
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