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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.
For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.
For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources .
- Reflect : Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.
Why should I write an annotated bibliography?
To learn about your topic : Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So, a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.
To help other researchers : Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.
The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific guidelines.
The bibliographic information : Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout . For APA, go here: APA handout .
The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need more space.
You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.
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- How to create an MLA style annotated bibliography
MLA Style Annotated Bibliography | Format & Examples
Published on July 13, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on June 14, 2022.
An annotated bibliography is a special assignment that lists sources in a way similar to the MLA Works Cited list, but providing an annotation for each source giving extra information.
You might be assigned an annotated bibliography as part of the research process for a paper , or as an individual assignment.
MLA provides guidelines for writing and formatting your annotated bibliography. An example of a typical annotation is shown below.
Kenny, Anthony. A New History of Western Philosophy: In Four Parts . Oxford UP, 2010.
You can create and manage your annotated bibliography with Scribbr’s free MLA Citation Generator. Choose your source type, retrieve the details, and click “Add annotation.”
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Table of contents, mla format for annotated bibliographies, length and content of annotations, frequently asked questions about annotated bibliographies.
The list should be titled either “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.” You may be told which title to use; “bibliography” is normally used for a list that also includes sources you didn’t cite in your paper or that isn’t connected to a paper at all.
Sources are usually organized alphabetically , like in a normal Works Cited list, but can instead be organized chronologically or by subject depending on the purpose of the assignment.
The source information is presented and formatted in the same way as in a normal Works Cited entry:
- 0.5 inch hanging indent
The annotation follows on the next line, also double-spaced and left-aligned. The whole annotation is indented 1 inch from the left margin to distinguish it from the 0.5 inch hanging indent of the source entry.
- If the annotation is only one paragraph long, there’s no additional indent for the start of the paragraph.
- If there are two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph , including the first, an additional half-inch (so those lines are indented 1.5 inches in total).
MLA gives some guidelines for writing the annotations themselves. They cover how concise you need to be and what exactly you should write about your sources.
Phrases or full sentences?
MLA states that it’s acceptable to use concise phrases rather than grammatically complete sentences in your annotations.
While you shouldn’t write this way in your main text, it’s acceptable in annotations because the subject of the phrase is clear from the context. It’s also fine to use full sentences instead, if you prefer.
- Broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day.
- Kenny presents a broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day.
Always use full sentences if your instructor requires you to do so, though.
How many paragraphs?
MLA states that annotations usually aim to be concise and thus are only one paragraph long. However, it’s acceptable to write multiple-paragraph annotations if you need to.
If in doubt, aim to keep your annotations short, but use multiple paragraphs if longer annotations are required for your assignment.
Descriptive, evaluative, or reflective annotations?
MLA states that annotations can describe or evaluate sources, or do both. They shouldn’t go into too much depth quoting or discussing minor details from the source, but aim to write about it in broad terms.
You’ll usually write either descriptive , evaluative , or reflective annotations . If you’re not sure what kind of annotations you need, consult your assignment guidelines or ask your instructor.
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An annotated bibliography is an assignment where you collect sources on a specific topic and write an annotation for each source. An annotation is a short text that describes and sometimes evaluates the source.
Any credible sources on your topic can be included in an annotated bibliography . The exact sources you cover will vary depending on the assignment, but you should usually focus on collecting journal articles and scholarly books . When in doubt, utilize the CRAAP test !
Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs .
The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment. An annotation can be descriptive, meaning it just describes the source objectively; evaluative, meaning it assesses its usefulness; or reflective, meaning it explains how the source will be used in your own research .
No, in an MLA annotated bibliography , you can write short phrases instead of full sentences to keep your annotations concise. You can still choose to use full sentences instead, though.
Use full sentences in your annotations if your instructor requires you to, and always use full sentences in the main text of your paper .
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Caulfield, J. (2022, June 14). MLA Style Annotated Bibliography | Format & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved May 26, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/mla-annotated-bibliography/
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What this handout is about.
This handout will explain why annotated bibliographies are useful for researchers, provide an explanation of what constitutes an annotation, describe various types of annotations and styles for writing them, and offer multiple examples of annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE styles of citation.
Welcome to the wonderful world of annotated bibliographies! You’re probably already familiar with the need to provide bibliographies, reference pages, and works cited lists to credit your sources when you do a research paper. An annotated bibliography includes descriptions and explanations of your listed sources beyond the basic citation information you usually provide.
Why do an annotated bibliography?
One of the reasons behind citing sources and compiling a general bibliography is so that you can prove you have done some valid research to back up your argument and claims. Readers can refer to a citation in your bibliography and then go look up the material themselves. When inspired by your text or your argument, interested researchers can access your resources. They may wish to double check a claim or interpretation you’ve made, or they may simply wish to continue researching according to their interests. But think about it: even though a bibliography provides a list of research sources of all types that includes publishing information, how much does that really tell a researcher or reader about the sources themselves?
An annotated bibliography provides specific information about each source you have used. As a researcher, you have become an expert on your topic: you have the ability to explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them. Think of your paper as part of a conversation with people interested in the same things you are; the annotated bibliography allows you to tell readers what to check out, what might be worth checking out in some situations, and what might not be worth spending the time on. It’s kind of like providing a list of good movies for your classmates to watch and then going over the list with them, telling them why this movie is better than that one or why one student in your class might like a particular movie better than another student would. You want to give your audience enough information to understand basically what the movies are about and to make an informed decision about where to spend their money based on their interests.
What does an annotated bibliography do?
A good annotated bibliography:
- encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas.
- proves you have read and understand your sources.
- establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.
- situates your study and topic in a continuing professional conversation.
- provides a way for others to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research if they read it.
- could help interested researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of work going on in a field.
What elements might an annotation include?
- Bibliography according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
- Explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its thesis—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source.
- Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
- Comments on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work in terms of both the topic being researched and/or your own research project.
- The point of view or perspective from which the work was written. For instance, you may note whether the author seemed to have particular biases or was trying to reach a particular audience.
- Relevant links to other work done in the area, like related sources, possibly including a comparison with some of those already on your list. You may want to establish connections to other aspects of the same argument or opposing views.
The first four elements above are usually a necessary part of the annotated bibliography. Points 5 and 6 may involve a little more analysis of the source, but you may include them in other kinds of annotations besides evaluative ones. Depending on the type of annotation you use, which this handout will address in the next section, there may be additional kinds of information that you will need to include.
For more extensive research papers (probably ten pages or more), you often see resource materials grouped into sub-headed sections based on content, but this probably will not be necessary for the kinds of assignments you’ll be working on. For longer papers, ask your instructor about her preferences concerning annotated bibliographies.
Did you know that annotations have categories and styles?
As you go through this handout, you’ll see that, before you start, you’ll need to make several decisions about your annotations: citation format, type of annotation, and writing style for the annotation.
First of all, you’ll need to decide which kind of citation format is appropriate to the paper and its sources, for instance, MLA or APA. This may influence the format of the annotations and bibliography. Typically, bibliographies should be double-spaced and use normal margins (you may want to check with your instructor, since he may have a different style he wants you to follow).
MLA (Modern Language Association)
See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic MLA bibliography formatting and rules.
- MLA documentation is generally used for disciplines in the humanities, such as English, languages, film, and cultural studies or other theoretical studies. These annotations are often summary or analytical annotations.
- Title your annotated bibliography “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
- Following MLA format, use a hanging indent for your bibliographic information. This means the first line is not indented and all the other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
- Begin your annotation immediately after the bibliographic information of the source ends; don’t skip a line down unless you have been told to do so by your instructor.
APA (American Psychological Association)
See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic APA bibliography formatting and rules.
- Natural and social sciences, such as psychology, nursing, sociology, and social work, use APA documentation. It is also used in economics, business, and criminology. These annotations are often succinct summaries.
- Annotated bibliographies for APA format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References” designation.
- Like MLA, APA uses a hanging indent: the first line is set flush with the left margin, and all other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
- After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line.
- The entire annotation is indented an additional two spaces, so that means each of its lines will be six spaces from the margin (if your instructor has said that it’s okay to tab over instead of using the four spaces rule, indent the annotation two more spaces in from that point).
CBE (Council of Biology Editors)/CSE (Council of Science Editors)
See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic CBE/CSE bibliography formatting and rules.
- CBE/CSE documentation is used by the plant sciences, zoology, microbiology, and many of the medical sciences.
- Annotated bibliographies for CBE/CSE format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References,” “Cited References,” or “Literature Cited,” and set it flush with the left margin.
- Bibliographies for CSE in general are in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the paper.
- When using the name-year system, as in MLA and APA, the first line of each entry is set flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines, including the annotation, are indented three or four spaces.
- When using the citation-sequence method, each entry begins two spaces after the number, and every line, including the annotation, will be indented to match the beginning of the entry, or may be slightly further indented, as in the case of journals.
- After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line. The entire annotation follows the indentation of the bibliographic entry, whether it’s N-Y or C-S format.
- Annotations in CBE/CSE are generally a smaller font size than the rest of the bibliographic information.
After choosing a documentation format, you’ll choose from a variety of annotation categories presented in the following section. Each type of annotation highlights a particular approach to presenting a source to a reader. For instance, an annotation could provide a summary of the source only, or it could also provide some additional evaluation of that material.
In addition to making choices related to the content of the annotation, you’ll also need to choose a style of writing—for instance, telescopic versus paragraph form. Your writing style isn’t dictated by the content of your annotation. Writing style simply refers to the way you’ve chosen to convey written information. A discussion of writing style follows the section on annotation types.
Types of annotations
As you now know, one annotation does not fit all purposes! There are different kinds of annotations, depending on what might be most important for your reader to learn about a source. Your assignments will usually make it clear which citation format you need to use, but they may not always specify which type of annotation to employ. In that case, you’ll either need to pick your instructor’s brain a little to see what she wants or use clue words from the assignment itself to make a decision. For instance, the assignment may tell you that your annotative bibliography should give evidence proving an analytical understanding of the sources you’ve used. The word analytical clues you in to the idea that you must evaluate the sources you’re working with and provide some kind of critique.
There are two kinds of summarizing annotations, informative and indicative.
Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:
- They sum up the content of the source, as a book report might.
- They give an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and note the resulting conclusion.
- They do not judge the work they are discussing. Leave that to the critical/evaluative annotations.
- When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to material. For instance, you might mention if the source is an ethnography or if the author employs a particular kind of theory.
Informative annotations sometimes read like straight summaries of the source material, but they often spend a little more time summarizing relevant information about the author or the work itself.
Indicative annotation is the second type of summary annotation, but it does not attempt to include actual information from the argument itself. Instead, it gives general information about what kinds of questions or issues are addressed by the work. This sometimes includes the use of chapter titles.
Evaluative annotations don’t just summarize. In addition to tackling the points addressed in summary annotations, evaluative annotations:
- evaluate the source or author critically (biases, lack of evidence, objective, etc.).
- show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
- explain how researching this material assisted your own project.
An annotated bibliography may combine elements of all the types. In fact, most of them fall into this category: a little summarizing and describing, a little evaluation.
Ok, next! So what does it mean to use different writing styles as opposed to different kinds of content? Content is what belongs in the annotation, and style is the way you write it up. First, choose which content type you need to compose, and then choose the style you’re going to use to write it
This kind of annotated bibliography is a study in succinctness. It uses a minimalist treatment of both information and sentence structure, without sacrificing clarity. Warning: this kind of writing can be harder than you might think.
Don’t skimp on this kind of annotated bibliography. If your instructor has asked for paragraph form, it likely means that you’ll need to include several elements in the annotation, or that she expects a more in-depth description or evaluation, for instance. Make sure to provide a full paragraph of discussion for each work.
As you can see now, bibliographies and annotations are really a series of organized steps. They require meticulous attention, but in the end, you’ve got an entire testimony to all the research and work you’ve done. At the end of this handout you’ll find examples of informative, indicative, evaluative, combination, telescopic, and paragraph annotated bibliography entries in MLA, APA, and CBE formats. Use these examples as your guide to creating an annotated bibliography that makes you look like the expert you are!
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bell, I. F., and J. Gallup. 1971. A Reference Guide to English, American, and Canadian Literature . Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzburg. 1991. Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing , 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books.
Center for Information on Language Teaching, and The English Teaching Information Center of the British Council. 1968. Language-Teaching Bibliography . Cambridge: Cambridge University.
Engle, Michael, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. 2012. “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography.” Olin & Uris Libraries. Cornell University. Last updated September 25, 2012. https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/how-prepare-annotated-bibliography.
Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
Grasso, Michael. 2004. “Speech Recognition Annotated Bibliography” (Website). University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Department of Computer Science. https://www.csee.umbc.edu/~mgrass2/dissert/annbib.html .
Huth, Edward. 1994. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers . New York: University of Cambridge.
Kilborn, Judith. 2004. “MLA Documentation.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated March 16, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/research/mla.html.
Spatt, Brenda. 1991. Writing from Sources , 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s.
Memorial University. n.d. “How to Write Annotated Bibliographies.” Memorial University Libraries. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.library.mun.ca/researchtools/guides/writing/annotated_bibl/ .
University of Kansas. 2018. “Bibliographies.” KU Writing Center. Last updated April 2018. http://writing.ku.edu/bibliographies .
University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2019. “Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/annotatedbibliography/ .
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How to Write a Bibliography, With Examples
You spent the past six hours grinding out your latest paper, but finally, it’s finished. It’s late, you’re exhausted, and all you want to do is click “Submit Assignment” and then get some sleep.
Not so fast. If your paper doesn’t have a properly formatted bibliography, it’s not finished.
A bibliography is a list of all the sources you consulted while writing your paper. Every book, article, and even video you used to gather information for your paper needs to be cited in your bibliography so your instructor (and any others reading your work) can trace the facts, statistics, and insights back to their original sources.
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What is the purpose of a bibliography?
A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work. It accompanies just about every type of academic writing , like essays , research papers , and reports . You might also find a brief, less formal bibliography at the end of a journalistic piece, presentation, or video when the author feels it’s necessary to cite their sources . In nearly all academic instances, a bibliography is required. Not including a bibliography (or including an incomplete, incorrect, or falsified bibliography) can be considered an act of plagiarism , which can lead to a failing grade, being dropped from your course or program, and even being suspended or expelled from your school.
A bibliography accomplishes a few things. These include:
- Showing your instructor that you conducted the necessary research for your assignment
- Crediting your sources’ authors for the research they conducted
- Making it easy for anybody who reads your work to find the sources you used and conduct their own research on the same or a similar topic
Additionally, future historians consulting your writing can use your bibliography to identify primary and secondary sources in your research field. Documenting the course information from its original source through later academic works can help researchers understand how that information has been cited and interpreted over time. It can also help them review the information in the face of competing—and possibly contradictory or revisionary—data.
In nearly all cases, a bibliography is found at the end of a book or paper.
What are the different kinds of bibliographies?
Different types of academic works call for different types of bibliographies. For example, your computer science professor might require you to submit an annotated bibliography along with your paper because this type of bibliography explains the why behind each source you chose to consult.
An analytical bibliography documents a work’s journey from manuscript to published book or article. This type of bibliography includes the physical characteristics of each cited source, like each work’s number of pages, type of binding used, and illustrations.
An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes annotations, which are short notes explaining why the author chose each of the sources. Generally a few sentences long, these notes might summarize or reflect on the source.
An annotated bibliography is not the same as a literature review . While a literature review discusses how you conducted your research and how your work fits into the overall body of established research in your field, an annotated bibliography simply explains how each source you used is relevant to your work.
An enumerative bibliography is the most basic type of bibliography. It’s a list of sources used to conduct research, often ordered according to specific characteristics, like alphabetically by authors’ last names or grouped according to topic or language.
Specific types of enumerative bibliographies used for research works include:
A national bibliography groups sources published in a specific region or nation. In many cases, these bibliographies also group works according to the time period during which they were published.
A personal bibliography lists multiple works by the same individual author or group of authors. Often, personal bibliographies include works that would be difficult to find elsewhere, like unpublished works.
In a corporate bibliography, the sources are grouped according to their relation to a specific organization. The sources can be about an organization, published by that organization, or owned by that organization.
Subject bibliographies group works according to the subjects they cover. Generally, these bibliographies list primary and secondary sources, whereas other types of enumerative bibliographies, like personal bibliographies, might not.
Other types of bibliographies
In some cases, it makes sense to use a bibliography format other than those listed here. These include:
This type of bibliography lists works by a single author. With certain assignments, like an essay comparing two of an author’s books, your bibliography is a single-author bibliography by default. In this case, you can choose how to order the sources, such as by publication date or alphabetically by title.
A selected bibliography is a bibliography that only lists some of the sources you consulted. Usually, these are the most important sources for your work. You might write a selected bibliography if you consulted a variety of minor sources that you didn’t end up citing directly in your work. A selected bibliography may also be an annotated bibliography.
How is a bibliography structured?
Although each style guide has its own formatting rules for bibliographies, all bibliographies follow a similar structure. Key points to keep in mind when you’re structuring a bibliography include:
- Every bibliography page has a header. Format this header according to the style guide you’re using.
- Every bibliography has a title, such as “Works Cited,” “References,” or simply “Bibliography.”
- Bibliographies are lists. List your sources alphabetically according to their authors’ last names or their titles—whichever is applicable according to the style guide you’re using. The exception is a single-author bibliography or one that groups sources according to a shared characteristic.
- Bibliographies are double-spaced.
- Bibliographies should be in legible fonts, typically the same font as the papers they accompany.
As noted above, different kinds of assignments require different kinds of bibliographies. For example, you might write an analytical bibliography for your art history paper because this type of bibliography gives you space to discuss how the construction methods used for your sources inform their content and vice-versa. If you aren’t sure which kind of bibliography to write, ask your instructor.
How do you write a bibliography?
The term “bibliography” is a catch-all for any list of sources cited at the end of an academic work. Certain style guides use different terminology to refer to bibliographies. For example, MLA format refers to a paper’s bibliography as its Works Cited page. APA refers to it as the References page. No matter which style guide you’re using, the process for writing a bibliography is generally the same. The primary difference between the different style guides is how the bibliography is formatted.
The first step in writing a bibliography is organizing all the relevant information about the sources you used in your research. Relevant information about a source can vary according to the type of media it is, the type of bibliography you’re writing, and your style guide. Determine which information you need to include about each source by consulting the style guide you’re using. If you aren’t sure what to include, or if you’re not sure which style guide to use, ask your instructor.
The next step is to format your sources according to the style guide you’re using. MLA , APA , and the Chicago Manual of Style are three of the most commonly used style guides in academic writing.
MLA Works Cited page
In MLA format , the bibliography is known as the Works Cited page. MLA is typically used for writing in the humanities, like English and History. Because of this, it includes guidelines for citing sources like plays, videos , and works of visual art —sources you’d find yourself consulting for these courses, but probably not in your science and business courses.
In MLA format, books are cited like this:
If the cited book was published prior to 1900, is from a publisher with offices in multiple countries, or is from a publisher that is largely unknown in the US, include the book’s city of publication. Otherwise, this can be left out.
Scholarly articles are cited in this format:
- Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Periodical, Day Month Year, pages.
APA References page
In APA format —the format typically used in psychology, nursing, business, and the social sciences—the bibliography page is titled References. This format includes citation instructions for technical papers and data-heavy research, the types of sources you’re likely to consult for academic writing in these fields.
In APA format, books are cited like this:
Digital object identifier (DOI).
(issue number) , article’s page range (i.e., 10-15). URL.
Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) permits authors to format bibliographies in two different ways: the notes and bibliography system and the author-date system. The former is generally used in the humanities, whereas the latter is usually used in the sciences and social sciences.
Both systems include guidelines for citations on a paper’s body pages as well as a bibliographic list that follows the paper. This list is titled Bibliography.
In CMoS, books are cited like this:
number (year published): page numbers of the article (i.e., 10-15).
What is a bibliography.
A bibliography is the list of sources a work’s author used to create the work.
What are the different kinds of bibliographies?
There are many different kinds of bibliographies. These include:
- Enumerative bibliographies
- Annotated bibliographies
- Analytical bibliographies
How do you write a bibliography for different style guides?
Each style guide publishes its bibliography guidelines online. Locate the guidelines for the style guide you’re following ( Chicago Manual of Style , MLA , APA ), and using the examples provided, format and list the sources for your work.
What is a Bibliographic Citation? Examples & Best Practices
- Posted on May 26, 2023
Whenever you dip your toes into the research world, one term you will likely encounter is “citation.” The term is familiar as every research work needs to contain a bibliography with a list of the sources consulted during the research process. You also have to ensure that the sources you include are appropriately cited. This is where bibliographic citation comes into the picture.
But what is a bibliographic citation? And how can you ensure that you follow the best practices when citing your sources? Read on to explore the definition, examples, and best practices of bibliographic citations.
What is a Bibliographic Citation?
A bibliographic citation is a reference to a book, article, web page, or other published item that provides the necessary information for readers to locate and retrieve that source. It includes the following information:
- Author’s last name
- Date of publication
- Page numbers of your sources
- Online sources
When writing a research paper, it is important to cite sources and paraphrase to avoid plagiarism . There are different source types that require other citation formats, such as journal articles, magazine articles, online articles, electronic sources, conference proceedings, and book reviews.
You should include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses for in-text citations. If you cite multiple sources, list them alphabetically by the author’s last name.
For reference entries, the format will vary depending on the source type. For example, a journal article citation should include the author’s last name and initials, the publication year, the article title, the journal title, the volume number, and the page numbers.
An online source citation should include the author’s last name and initials, the publication date, the article title, the website name, the URL or HTML, and the date you accessed the source.
During citation, it is essential to provide detailed information for each source you cite to help readers locate the source. You should also ensure your research paper is accurate and credible for easy organizing.
When writing quoted information, knowing the difference between summarizing and paraphrasing is vital. If you use direct wording without changing them, it could lead to high plagiarism scores.
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a collection of specific notes on a source. The bibliographies include two parts: the citation and the annotation. The citation provides basic information about the source, such as the author’s name(s), publication date, title of work, and publisher.
At the same time, annotations are brief summaries or evaluations describing how valuable each information source was for your research project.
For an annotated bibliography, in-text citations should be included within parentheses after any direct quote or paraphrase from another author’s work (basic format).
You can also create a reference list with all works cited at the end of the paper. It is essential to list the citations alphabetically by last name and first initial followed by year publication information enclosed in parentheses (Publication Manual).
- Last Name, First Initial. (Year Published). Title of Book/Article/Journal/Magazine/Newspaper/etc., Publisher/City Where Published.
- Doe JF Jr., Smith AB III. (2019) Marketing strategies for small businesses: A case study approach. Wiley & Sons Inc, New York City.
Bibliographies can be an incredibly helpful tool when conducting research or writing papers. They provide detailed information about sources used in your work, which can ensure you’re citing all relevant materials correctly.
What are Endnotes?
Endnotes citation provide additional information or clarification on a specific point within the text. You can place them at the end of a page, so readers can easily locate them without disrupting the writing’s continuity.
Unlike in-text citations, which use parentheses and can be found directly after the quoted or paraphrased material, endnotes utilize superscript numbers that correspond with their respective entries in an organized reference list at the conclusion of your thesis.
To properly format an endnote, include essential details such as the author’s name, publication date, title, and publisher, separated by commas.
3 Examples of Bibliographic Citations
There are different formats for bibliographic citations, depending on the source type. Here are three examples of bibliographic citations:
1. Book Citation
Here is an American Psychological Association (APA) style book citation:
- Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Year) Title. Publisher’s City: Publisher. Page numbers
In this citation, the author’s last name comes first, followed by their first name. The publication year is enclosed in parentheses, followed by the book’s title, the publisher’s city, the publisher, and the page numbers.
For example, Smith, John. (2010) The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner. 167-250.2. Journal article citation
It is essential to consider if the book has more than one writer, as this can change the formatting of the above citation. For instance, you have to write all the writers’ names in the same format, Last Name, First Name.
2. Journal Article Citation
Here is an APA-style journal article citation:
- Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Publication Date—could be more than a year) “Article Title.”Publication Title, Vol. #. (Issue #), Page numbers
When citing a journal article, you should include the author’s last name and first name, the publication date, the article title, the publication title, the volume and issue numbers, and the page numbers. You can also input a doi if the publisher provides one.
For example, Johnson, Emily. (2018) “The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health.” Psychology Today, 35(4), 12-23.
3. Website Citation
Here is an American Psychological Association (APA-style) journal article citation:
- Author. (Date of Internet Publication—could be more than a year) “Document Title.” Title of Publication. Retrieved on: Date from Full Web Address, starting with http://
A website citation should include the author’s name, date of internet publication, document title, title of publication, and the full web address.
For example, Smith, Mark. (2020) “The Benefits of Meditation.” Healthline. Retrieved on August 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation . Note that the data retrieved should correspond with the precise date you visited the website for research.
You can also use different bibliographic citations to cite the same information. Be keen on the changes, as they can be slightly confusing.
Best Practices for Bibliographic Citations
Incorporating bibliographic citations effectively is crucial in any research paper or article. Follow these best practices to ensure accuracy and consistency:
- Choose the appropriate citation style based on your field (e.g., humanities, social sciences).
- Use quotation marks for direct quotes and italics for titles of longer works.
- Include parenthetical citations with relevant information, such as the author’s last name, publication date, and page number.
- List all sources alphabetically by the author’s last name on a separate reference page.
- Avoid unnecessary abbreviations and maintain consistent formatting throughout your work.
To better understand the citation rules, it is ideal to understand the different exemplary bibliographic citations such as American Psychological Association (APA 7th edition), Chicago, or Modern Language Association (MLA 8th edition). The styles have specific formatting requirements for different types of sources of information like articles and web pages.
For more guidance on citing different sources , refer to this comprehensive citation guide on how to use citations with various styles like APA, MLA style, and the Chicago Manual of Style:
Every research individual can ask, “What is a bibliographic citation?” Bibliographic citations are an essential part of any research paper or publication. They provide detailed information about the sources used in the work and allow readers to locate and verify the information cited.
Annotated bibliographies and endnotes are also valuable tools for organizing and presenting sources. It is essential to follow best practices, including all necessary information, formatting correctly, and citing multiple sources properly, to ensure your work is credible and reliable.
If you need assistance with creating accurate bibliographic citations or other aspects of your marketing materials or publications, visit our website today !
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / APA Annotated Bibliography Format
APA Annotated Bibliography Format
The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but does ask that the list be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual ). Since there are no set rules for creating one, you may be wondering how to create an annotated APA bibliography. If your teacher or professor requests one, don’t worry, here are our recommendations:
- Make sure you create your references according to APA’s guidelines. If you need some help, here’s a great APA citation website , which shows how to create references for electronic sources. We also have a page on developing a reference for an APA journal . Need other source types? Check out the other helpful pages on EasyBib.com.
- Annotations should be kept short and are usually not more than one paragraph.
- For more information on writing an annotation, visit the general annotated bibliography guide .
Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:
- Quick APA formatting guidelines
Visual example, using the easybib annotation tool, troubleshooting, quick apa formatting guidelines:.
- Use 1-inch page margins on all sides.
- The entire page should be double-spaced.
- Title your page, “Annotated Bibliography”. Center and bold it.
- Left-align references. If a reference runs over more than one line, any line(s) that comes after the first should be indented a ½ inch from the left margin.
- Organize your references alphabetically by the first word in the reference. (See further details in this APA Reference Page guide).
- Add the annotations on the line right after their corresponding reference.
- Indent annotations ½ inch from the left margin.
- Include a page number in the upper right corner; if this is a professional paper, it should be a running head.
For an annotated bibliography APA example, we’re using the same description as above. The only thing we’re going to change is the structure of the reference. For an APA bibliography, the reference needs to be an APA citation , and the description can be formed the same way as above.
Here’s what the APA book citation for The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase looks like:
Forsyth, M. (2014). The elements of eloquence: Secrets of the perfect turn of phrase. Penguin Books.
The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.
The EasyBib citation generator has an annotation tool that can help you easily add your annotation to a citation.
- To do this, begin creating a citation in the EasyBib citation generator. Already have a citation on EasyBib.com? Go to the citation, open your citation options and select “Edit citation.”
- Once you get to the citation form (where you review found information), scroll to the bottom until you see the sections “More options.”
- Under that section, click on the “Add annotation” link to open the annotation box.
- Copy and paste your annotation into the box.
- Complete your citation.
- Your annotation will automatically be included and formatted with your citation. You can copy and paste directly into your paper!
Again, even though the APA style does not support the creation of bibliographies that include annotations, many schools and professors expect their students to include summaries or commentary alongside their citations in APA style.
Solution #1: How to write an annotation
Annotations are brief paragraph summaries of your source and may include details about how you plan to use the information in your paper, or the quality of information in your source. Take these steps:
- Read through the source.
- Identify the main thesis theme of the source then consider how you would summarize the article and its purpose in one sentence.
- Evaluate the source. Is the author(s) qualified? Is the source and its arguments credible? Well-written? Why or why not?
- How does the source relate to your paper?
- Write your annotation based on the above steps. Choose only the points that would most help you or your reader gain an understanding of the source and its significance.
Here are writing tips:
- Avoid describing every event, statistic, or detail that occurs in your source.
- Focus on details that are relevant to your topic or your paper. Help the reader understand why the source was selected and is importance.
- Think about how the information impacts your perspective, how it contributes to your topic, and the effect on your overall paper.
Annotated paragraph example:
Solution #2: How to correctly format an annotation with multiple paragraphs
- Indent the entire annotated paragraph at ½ of an inch. When done correctly, the left edge of the annotated paragraph will look entirely straight, as in the first example below.
- If there are multiple paragraphs, follow step one but use a second 0.5-inch indention on the second and following paragraphs.
- Avoid indenting the paragraph at 0.5 inch like a regular essay paragraph, as shown in the third example.
Single annotated paragraph example:
Multiple annotated paragraphs example:
In his novel, “A True Story of John Doe,” Samuel Smith outlines his life through the eyes of a fictional character. His recollection outlines the immigrant experience and demonstrates how modern life in England came to be.
Chapters two and three outline the novelty of moving to a new location by describing the eventual progression to culture shock. Smith describes life as beautiful and wonderous in chapter two by emphasizing sensory experiences. However, in chapter three, he slowly gains awareness of the differences between his current and previous lives and of how the locals treat him. Smith nullifies the sensory experiences and, instead, focuses on the depth of the human emotion. I intend to use this source to compare to my own experience as an immigrant.
APA Formatting Guide
- Annotated Bibliography
- Block Quotes
- et al Usage
- In-text Citations
- Multiple Authors
- Page Numbers
- Parenthetical Citations
- Reference Page
- Sample Paper
- APA 7 Updates
- View APA Guide
- Book Chapter
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Website (no author)
- View all APA Examples
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To create an annotated APA bibliography, follow the below recommendations:
- Order your reference entries in alphabetical order similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.
- If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a new paragraph below the reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.
Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35 (1), 61–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2012.739467 Lim focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in creating our understanding of what thinking and rationality are.
To format an annotated bibliography in APA, follow the recommendations given below:
- Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins as 1 inch.
- Use double-line spacing.
- Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.
- The title should be aligned to the center of the page.
- As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inches from the left margin.
- Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.
- Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.
APA Citation Examples
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What is an annotated bibliography.
An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you've used in your research with brief “annotations” for each that describe the source’s content and summarise its main argument.
They are usually used in research projects to provide a comprehensive but focused overview of the critical discussions on a topic.
When compiling an annotated bibliography you should make sure that:
- your selected sources demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area and demonstrate good research skills
- your annotations demonstrate your ability to identify arguments and evaluate their usefulness for your project
- you use the referencing style of your department eg Harvard, APA, MLA – find out more about referencing at Leeds .
Keeping track of which information came from where, can be a challenging. As an alternative to EndNote, try online referencing tools such as Citavi and Zotero . They are useful for inserting citations and references, but they also help to organise your sources into categories, and you can make notes and highlight key quotes.
How do they look?
To find out how they work in practice, take a look at these two examples of annotated bibliographies created by an English tutor a the University of Leeds.
- Sample annotated bibliography: Mother of the Nation: Elizabeth Hamilton’s Reformist Politics
- Sample annotated bibliography: Children’s Animal Narratives, 1750–1820
How are they different to ordinary bibliographies?
Ordinary bibliographies are lists of the sources that have been cited or used in your work (report, essay, or another form of assessment). They allow the reader to find the sources if they want to read in more detail.
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that includes a short descriptive text (an annotation) for each source. It may be assigned as part of the research process for a paper, or as an individual assignment to gather and read relevant sources on a topic.
Annotated Bibliography Samples Annotated Bibliography Samples Overview Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. Annotations vs. Abstracts
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following. Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments?
Annotated bibliography example for MLA Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. This book, which won the Pulitzer Prize, attempts to answer the question of why some civilizations succeeded while others faded away into history.
An example of a typical annotation is shown below. Example of an MLA source annotation Kenny, Anthony. A New History of Western Philosophy: In Four Parts. Oxford UP, 2010. Broad history of Western philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present day.
An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100-200 words in length. Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:
What elements might an annotation include? Bibliography according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.). Explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its thesis—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source.
An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes annotations, which are short notes explaining why the author chose each of the sources. Generally a few sentences long, these notes might summarize or reflect on the source. An annotated bibliography is not the same as a literature review.
Example of APA Style Annotated Bibliography Entry. The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) for the journal citation: Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults.
Annotated Bibliography Examples Get examples of an annotated bibliography in each different style. Find a quick overview of when to use APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. APA Example An APA annotated bibliography is used for science and technical papers. It includes an APA citation and APA formatting for headers and title. MLA Example
An annotated bibliography is a collection of specific notes on a source. The bibliographies include two parts: the citation and the annotation. The citation provides basic information about the source, such as the author's name(s), publication date, title of work, and publisher.
After your APA annotated bibliography is formatted, you create a citation for each entry. The composition of your citation varies based on the type of source you are using. For example, a book citation in APA is different than a journal citation. Therefore, when creating your citation, use the format APA has designated for that specific source.
What is an Annotated Bibliography? According to APA Manual (7th Ed.), "[a]n annotated bibliography is a type of student paper in which reference list entries are followed by short descriptions of the work called annotations" (p. 307). There are a couple main types of Annotated Bibliographies: Descriptive or Informative Annotations
Why include annotations? Step 1: Analyze your sources Step 2: Write the descriptions Step 3a: Formatting an MLA style annotated bibliography Step 3b: Formatting an APA style annotated bibliography Annotated Bibliography Templates Using the EasyBib Annotation Tool What is an annotated bibliography?
One widely used citation style is the MLA (Modern Language Association) format, which provides guidelines for creating an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography goes beyond the traditional bibliographical list by including a concise annotation for each source. This article will explore the definition of an MLA annotated bibliography ...
Here is a visual annotated bibliography example APA using the entry above: Using the EasyBib annotation tool The EasyBib citation generator has an annotation tool that can help you easily add your annotation to a citation. To do this, begin creating a citation in the EasyBib citation generator. Already have a citation on EasyBib.com?
The annotated bibliography looks like a References page but includes an annotation after each source cited. An annotation is a short summary and/or critical evaluation of a source. Annotated bibliographies can be part of a larger research project, or can be a stand-alone report in itself.
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources on a single topic, with an annotation provided for each source. An annotation is a one or two paragraph summary and/or analysis of an article, book, or other source. Generally, the first paragraph of the annotation provides a summary of the source in direct, clear terms.
Here's an example of an entry from an annotated bibliography, with the citation of the book in Chicago style and a brief description of the book: Garrow, David J. Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978.
Writing a great annotated bibliography is a great tool for the writer to come up with the best literature review as well. Therefore it will be a good thing to ensure that the annotated bibliography that is written is done in a great way and greatly focuses on the main issue that is being researched. References. Baetens, J., & Poucel, J. (2010).
An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you've used in your research with brief "annotations" for each that describe the source's content and summarise its main argument. ... Sample annotated bibliography: Mother of the Nation: Elizabeth Hamilton's Reformist Politics; Sample annotated bibliography: Children's Animal ...
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic. Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the ...