A Short Guide on How to Write an Annotated Bibliography


What is annotated bibliography and what exactly do you need to annotate? Welcome to the guide on annotated bibliography writing, which, we hope, will help you finish this task effortlessly.

What Do You Write in an Annotated Bibliography?

Before we start giving you advice on how to write an annotated bibliography, let’s at first figure out what it is. The name of this kind of academic paper indicates the two parts it is divided into: bibliography and annotation. The bibliography is the list of works you used while doing the research. Some students think that it only should include written ones, but this is not correct – modern bibliographies are often called “references” and include every source of information you used while investigating the topic of your research.

Annotation is a short (typically no more than 150 words) summary of the work you used for your research. Many students confuse annotations with abstracts, assuming they are basically the same thing with different names. However, this is not true. Though annotation includes a short retelling of the main thesis and claims of the research you are describing, unlike the abstract, which stops here, the annotation should provide a critical assessment. Remember this main difference between them, and annotated bibliographies will be easy for you.

When to Write Your Bibliography?

Many students wonder how much time writing an annotated bibliography can take. We highly recommend that you start taking notes in the process of reading each book, magazine entry or website. First of all, this will help you structure the information you’ve gained and remember it for a longer time. Secondly, you won’t need to do the same thing and reread the paper or look through it when you get to the stage of writing the annotated bibliography.

Though most students write it at the end, after they’ve done the research and the paper is nearly finished, we highly recommend you to try writing it in the process of the research. You don’t need to do perfect work from the first time, and you can omit the parts which are not vital now – for example, formatting the book’s title and author according to APA style. Just note them so you won’t forget what book you are describing in this passage, you can polish the details later. Take it from us, this method will save you a lot of time, and by a lot, we mean at least four to five hours depending on the scale of your research and, therefore, your bibliography.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography?

There are three steps of writing an annotated bibliography.

  • List and format according to the academic writing style you are using.
  • Shortly restate the main thesis of the paper.
  • Assess the contribution of the paper, its importance for your research in particular, and its validity.

You don’t need to follow the order precisely, at least when it comes to formatting the descriptive information of the work. Do the annotation and assessing parts first, since they require the most mental effort, and format the whole paper afterward.

The assessment part is usually the most difficult for students, so we are going to describe it in more detail. There are many questions you can ask when evaluating a source for your research, but since you have only 150 words to fit in, we are going to focus on the main ones:

  • How useful and reliable is the source?
  • How does it compare or relate to other sources you’ve used?
  • What is the source’s contribution to your research and understanding of the topic? Does it support your ideas or contradict them?

And that’s almost all you need to know to write a great bibliography. The last important thing is getting help in case of an emergency.

Where to Get Help

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