How to write an annotated bibliography

Posted: January 31st, 2021

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliography refers to an organized list of sources. It appears similar to a reference list. However, an annotated bibliography is different from a bibliography. While they both have a reference, an annotated bibliography has a paragraph of between 100 and 200 words after the reference explaining more about the source.

What Is An Annotation?

An annotation is a section that offers information on a piece of publication to enable the reader to decide whether to read the complete book. For instance, if a reader is researching a topic, the annotation will help the reader decide if the work is relevant. An annotation is more than a brief summary.

What is a Bibliography?

A bibliography refers to a list of sources on a topic. When put together with an annotation, it means a list of sources, which is inclusive of a summary for every source.

How Is An Annotation Different from an Abstract?

Most people use annotation and abstract interchangeably, despite the two being completely different. Like an annotation, an abstract is also a summary of a publication piece (a book, article, Website).

However, an abstract is purely descriptive. It contains the purpose of the work and the general design of the study, any significant findings, and the interpretation of the conclusion. Abstracts are common in scientific papers or social science papers with less than 300 words.

On the other hand, an annotation includes distinctive features of the work. Thus, the main difference is that an abstract is only descriptive, while an annotation is critical and evaluative. An annotation is around 150-200 words. It aims to inform the reader of the source’s accuracy, relevance, and quality.

What Do You Include in an Annotation?

When writing the summary part, you need to include these elements;

  • A sentence (s) describing the source article is a book, a journal, or a blog post?
  • Purpose of the article- what consumer information does it offer? It could be about marketing, trade, or just an academic article
  • A summary of the content which you can find in the abstract section
  • A sentence explaining how the article offers value to students or researchers

What is an annotation?

What Is The Purpose of Annotated Bibliography?

There are different reasons why annotated bibliographies are written. When written by a scholar or a professor, they are written as a service to people in the same profession.

Scholars and professors conduct in-depth research on various topics. Thus, they share the annotated bibliography to help save their colleagues the time and energy they would have spent if they began researching from scratch.

But, when professors ask students to write bibliographies, it is for different reasons. However, the instructor’s primary and common reason is to ensure that the student carries out enough research on the topic they are writing about.

Reasons why you need to write an annotated bibliography, is to;

  • Show that you have indeed researched and understood your sources
  • Think critically about the current work you are using and its relation to your ideas or research
  • Offer a literature review on a particular subject
  • Provide a list of items that other researchers looking into your topic might find helpful
  • Offer a way through which others can make their decisions on whether a source is relevant for their research
  • Establish you as a proficient researcher and show your work is valid
  • Help formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Place your study within a continuing professional conversation
  • Provide examples of significant sources of information on a particular topic

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

There are different types of annotated bibliographies;

  1. Descriptive/ Informative

This is a type of annotated bibliography that summarizes or describes a source similar to an abstract. It explains why the reference is useful for anyone researching a specific question or topic.

Besides giving the distinct features of the publication, it describes the main argument of the author. It also includes a conclusion, though it does not evaluate the argument of the author.

For example: Anne,W. (2018). Lessons learned when starting a business. Journal of Legal Business Consulting, 23(4), 27-29.

This article describes the main challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a business. It points to various issues such as raising capital and the transition from working as an employee to working for yourself. The author shares her personal experience as a learning tool for others. The challenges of being a first-time entrepreneur are not commonly discussed, especially during the first year. Time management, decision-making, accounting, and marketing are rarely discussed in detail. The author explains how important entrepreneurs are to the economy and the need for mentorship for people looking to venture into business.  She explains how important mentorship is and how it contributes to individual success. The article focuses on practical advice for starting entrepreneurs, which makes it an interesting article to various audiences.


  1. Analytical/Critical

This is a type of annotation that doe more than summarizes the material. An analytical bibliography analyzes what the author says. It examines both the strengths and weaknesses of the article. Also, it includes how relevant or applicable the author’s conclusion is to the research. It is a commonly used annotated bibliography.

For example: Anne,W. (2018). Lessons learned when starting a business. Journal of Legal Business Consulting, 23(4), 27-29.

This article describes the main challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a business. While the article focuses on issues such as raising capital and the transition from working as an employee to working for yourself, the author only offers her personal experience that is brief and doesn’t include any alternative solutions. The article does not include making use of other materials to research on starting a business. While depending on anecdotal advice, the author includes some references such as the Business Administration to help with business capital and consulting. The article is an excellent resource for anyone looking to start their business. For information to help, the author did not discuss some topics in the abbreviated list of lessons learned.


What are the Main Elements of an Annotated Bibliography?

There are ten main elements that you must include when writing an annotated bibliography;

  1. Author details and information

Who is the author of the work? What do you know about the author’s background? Is the author well qualified to write the piece of work?

  1. The purpose of the author

Why did the author carry out this research or write this book? Is the published work purpose stated, or is it implied? Does the author have a specific message that he or she is looking to pass across?

How to describe the purpose of the work when writing a bibliography

  1. Target audience information

Is the author targeting a specific audience? For example, is his or her work dedicated to the general public, scholars, teachers, etc.? Does the audience reflect in the writing style or presentation chosen by the author?

  1. Author bias

Does the author exhibit any bias on the assumption he or she is making on the article’s rationale? If there is any bias, what is it about? And why do you think the author is showing it?

  1. Source of information

In what way did the author obtain the data used in work? Does the author base the article, book, or journal on their personal experience, laboratory experiment, interviews, empirical observation, library research, standardized personality tests, or questionnaires?

  1. Authors conclusion

What is the conclusion of the author? Is the conclusion specifically implied or stated?

  1. Conclusion Justification

Is the conclusion of the author justified by his or her research or experience? Does the conclusion sync in with the primary purpose of the research? Is the conclusion supported by the data collected? Is there any chance that the author’s conclusion is skewered by bias?

  1. What is the relationship of the piece to other published works?

How do you think this work compared to previously published works on the same topic? Does it support other arguments, or does it contradict them? Is the work inclusive of any opinions which the reader should be aware of? Does the work conflict with conventional wisdom, government policy, or any widely accepted scholarship? Is the evidence collected weighted in favor of a particular perspective?

  1. Time Frame

Is the work current? How important is the work? Does the time during which the piece was written or published reflect on the information or data collected?

  1. Attachments

Are there any significant attachments, such as appendices attached to the work? Are the attachments included valuable? If the work doesn’t include any, do you think it should have included them?

Tips to write an annotated bibliography

How Do You Write an Annotated Bibliography?   

You know to understand what an annotated bibliography is and what it should entail. Now, you are ready to write one, how do you get started?

  1. Choose your sources

Before beginning to write, you need to choose the sources that were most relevant to your topic. Sources can be books, journals, periodicals, or any documents that have useful ideas on your topic.

You can make use of Google Scholar to get sources. Briefly go through the actual items and, if possible, download the PDF for the article. If you are checking webpages, you can use Hypothesis to help save your source’s location and later annotate it.

  1. Review the selected sources

You probably have a list of sources. Now, make a critical review of the sources and choose references that offer different perspectives on your research topic. Article abstracts will significantly help at this stage.

You need to make clear the usefulness of the source to your work. Let the readers know if the information is accurate, objective, or biased. You should also note the chronology of the work, noting the work is current or outdated.

Once you have reviewed your sources, read and annotate each source. If you save your sources PDF on Google Drive, MetaPDF will make annotating easy for you.

  1. Write the citation

Before writing your annotation, you should always start with the complete citation. As you review each source, cite the published works. There are different citation styles you can use; MLA, APA, Chicago. Always consult with your instructor if the preferred citation style has not been specified.

Despite there being different citation styles, there are basic things your citation must-have. The general elements of a citation are;

  • the name of the author,
  • the title full title of the article or book
  • date of publication of the work
  • the latest version of the book if updates have been made.

When writing your citation, you can organize it using alphabetical or chronological order, language, sub-topic, or format. However, most citation styles follow alphabetical order.  Are you struggling with writing your citation? You can always use an online citation generator software.

Write the annotation after the citation in annotated bibliography

  1. Write the annotation

Lastly, write a precise annotation that summarizes the scope of the book and its central theme. What you include will depend on the type of annotated bibliography. However, you will need to include;

  • The purpose of the publication
  • Summary of the work
  • Authors’ information
  • The intended audience
  • Compare this work to any other work you have cited
  • The relevance of the piece to the topic
  • Any unique features of the work
  • Research methodology
  • Strengths, weaknesses, or any biases in the work

Annotated bibliographies can be arranged chronologically or alphabetically. Always check with your instructor to know what they prefer.

Sample of annotated bibliography

Tips to Write a Perfect Annotated Bibliography

  • Find out as much as you can about the author

When writing an annotated bibliography, you will be using the author’s experience and other factors. For example, the author’s educational background, critical reviews, and other personal attributes.

Therefore, it is beneficial to understand as much as you can about the author. Try to understand why they have a specific view and what influenced that. Digging deeper into the author will be beneficial for you and your readers.

You can also mention the author’s intellectual inclination and the school of thought to which the author belongs. This will not only make your argument intellectually fertile but will also make your argument enriched.

  • Have a list of the central theme and the author’s main argument

You will need to understand the author’s argument and the central theme of the work to write a perfect annotation. Therefore, understanding the work and the main points will give your readers a quick preview.

Remember, you have to explain to the reader why you are using that particular journal, book, or article. This needs to be clear in your argument. Therefore, outline the importance of the source and how it related to your research.

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It is difficult for most students to write an annotated bibliography for various reasons. First, because they have no prior experience writing it, which makes it hard to craft a bibliography as it should be.

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How to write an annotated bibliography

The Format of an Annotated Bibliography

You will format your annotated bibliography in a similar way to your references page. The citations can appear in an alphabetical or chronological order (depending on your professor’s instruction).

However, you need to;

  • Double-space your bibliography
  • Start by writing the full citation followed by the annotation
  • Begin writing the annotation on a new line. You should indent it within the margins of the citation
  • Do not use the first-person pronoun “I.” Instead, write using the third person
  • Write in the literary present tense, for example, “This book discusses…” or “In this journal, the author argues…” or “This article gives a detailed view on…”

Annotated Bibliography Example

Having discussed what an annotated bibliography is and how to write one, it is essential to see how one appears. Here are some examples of annotated bibliographies, which you can refer to as you write your copy.

Note: The citation style may differ depending on the paper. However, always stick to the recommended style.

Sample MLA bibliography

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Mistakes to avoid

Common Mistake to Avoid

Here are some of the common mistakes which you should steer clear of when writing your annotated bibliography;

  1. Do not confuse an annotation and an abstract. In the introduction section, we discussed the differences between the two. They are not the same thing, even though they may appear similar.
  2. Do not begin writing your annotated bibliography before reading and evaluating your sources. Going through your sources and evaluating them may be tiring, but it is a critical step of the writing process. Failure to dutifully do this could end up with you writing non-factual or incorrect information.
  3. Do not confuse an annotated bibliography with a literature review. A literature review is more detailed and extensive than an annotation, which is more concise and shorter. Besides, an annotation is a part of an annotated bibliography that is sectioned alone, and each cited source has been used in your paper.
  4. Take note of formatting styles. The formatting style you use will determine how well you score. Therefore, formatting can prevent you from writing a perfect annotated bibliography. It is essential to understand how to write citations entirely to do it right. If you are working within a short deadline, you can order your assignment with us and let us handle your paper, including the citations for you.


Help writing my annotated bibliography

Write My Annotated Bibliography for Me

You now understand what an annotated bibliography is and how to write one. Before writing it, you will have to find a list of sources and evaluate them as you take notes to use them correctly. Also, you need to understand how to write citations and finally get down to crafting the bibliography and proofread it.

Sometimes, you may lack enough time to go through the entire process required to craft your paper. It takes time to do your research and find a valid claim or argument that will score you high marks,

If you need help with your annotated bibliography, ask us to “do my annotated bibliography.” UniHomeworkHelp will help you research, write and submit a high-quality output that will render you the best student.

Final Verdict

Writing annotated bibliographies is easy. It contains a series of organized steps to conduct a review of a given area methodically. However, annotated bibliographies require attention to detail as you try to develop your understanding or decide to research further.

Commonly, an annotated bibliography sets the basis for further research. Thus, the bibliography is a resourceful tool for students or other researchers who might need to follow your steps.

Always take time to review your finished annotation.  After processing all your sources, look back and identify any patterns or themes in your data. Remember to consult your professor to know whether you should arrange your citation in chronological or alphabetical order.

Do you need help with writing your annotated bibliography? We are glad to help. Place your order, and let us begin working on it immediately. With us, you get high-quality output within your specified deadline. The sooner you order, the sooner we can work on it.


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