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What Is an Annotated Bibliography? | Examples & Format

Published on March 9, 2021 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2022.

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.

Scribbr’s free Citation Generator allows you to easily create and manage your annotated bibliography in APA or MLA style. To generate a perfectly formatted annotated bibliography, select the source type, fill out the relevant fields, and add your annotation.

The Scribbr Citation Generator will automatically create a flawless APA citation

The Scribbr Citation Generator will automatically create a flawless MLA citation

An example of an annotated source is shown below:

Annotated source example

Table of contents

Annotated bibliography format: apa, mla, chicago, how to write an annotated bibliography, descriptive annotation example, evaluative annotation example, reflective annotation example, finding sources for your annotated bibliography, frequently asked questions about annotated bibliographies.

Make sure your annotated bibliography is formatted according to the guidelines of the style guide you’re working with. Three common styles are covered below:

In APA Style , both the reference entry and the annotation should be double-spaced and left-aligned.

The reference entry itself should have a hanging indent . The annotation follows on the next line, and the whole annotation should be indented to match the hanging indent. The first line of any additional paragraphs should be indented an additional time.

APA annotated bibliography

In an MLA style annotated bibliography , the Works Cited entry and the annotation are both double-spaced and left-aligned.

The Works Cited entry has a hanging indent. The annotation itself is indented 1 inch (twice as far as the hanging indent). If there are two or more paragraphs in the annotation, the first line of each paragraph is indented an additional half-inch, but not if there is only one paragraph.

MLA annotated bibliography

Chicago style

In a  Chicago style annotated bibliography , the bibliography entry itself should be single-spaced and feature a hanging indent.

The annotation should be indented, double-spaced, and left-aligned. The first line of any additional paragraphs should be indented an additional time.

Chicago annotated bibliography

For each source, start by writing (or generating ) a full reference entry that gives the author, title, date, and other information. The annotated bibliography format varies based on the citation style you’re using.

The annotations themselves are usually between 50 and 200 words in length, typically formatted as a single paragraph. This can vary depending on the word count of the assignment, the relative length and importance of different sources, and the number of sources you include.

Consider the instructions you’ve been given or consult your instructor to determine what kind of annotations they’re looking for:

These specific terms won’t necessarily be used. The important thing is to understand the purpose of your assignment and pick the approach that matches it best. Interactive examples of the different styles of annotation are shown below.

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A descriptive annotation summarizes the approach and arguments of a source in an objective way, without attempting to assess their validity.

In this way, it resembles an abstract , but you should never just copy text from a source’s abstract, as this would be considered plagiarism . You’ll naturally cover similar ground, but you should also consider whether the abstract omits any important points from the full text.

The interactive example shown below describes an article about the relationship between business regulations and CO 2 emissions.

Rieger, A. (2019). Doing business and increasing emissions? An exploratory analysis of the impact of business regulation on CO 2 emissions. Human Ecology Review , 25 (1), 69–86. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964340

An evaluative annotation also describes the content of a source, but it goes on to evaluate elements like the validity of the source’s arguments and the appropriateness of its methods .

For example, the following annotation describes, and evaluates the effectiveness of, a book about the history of Western philosophy.

Kenny, A. (2010). A new history of Western philosophy: In four parts . Oxford University Press.

A reflective annotation is similar to an evaluative one, but it focuses on the source’s usefulness or relevance to your own research.

Reflective annotations are often required when the point is to gather sources for a future research project, or to assess how they were used in a project you already completed.

The annotation below assesses the usefulness of a particular article for the author’s own research in the field of media studies.

Manovich, Lev. (2009). The practice of everyday (media) life: From mass consumption to mass cultural production? Critical Inquiry , 35 (2), 319–331. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/596645

Manovich’s article assesses the shift from a consumption-based media culture (in which media content is produced by a small number of professionals and consumed by a mass audience) to a production-based media culture (in which this mass audience is just as active in producing content as in consuming it). He is skeptical of some of the claims made about this cultural shift; specifically, he argues that the shift towards user-made content must be regarded as more reliant upon commercial media production than it is typically acknowledged to be. However, he regards web 2.0 as an exciting ongoing development for art and media production, citing its innovation and unpredictability.

The article is outdated in certain ways (it dates from 2009, before the launch of Instagram, to give just one example). Nevertheless, its critical engagement with the possibilities opened up for media production by the growth of social media is valuable in a general sense, and its conceptualization of these changes frequently applies just as well to more current social media platforms as it does to Myspace. Conceptually, I intend to draw on this article in my own analysis of the social dynamics of Twitter and Instagram.

Before you can write your annotations, you’ll need to find sources . If the annotated bibliography is part of the research process for a paper, your sources will be those you consult and cite as you prepare the paper. Otherwise, your assignment and your choice of topic will guide you in what kind of sources to look for.

Make sure that you’ve clearly defined your topic , and then consider what keywords are relevant to it, including variants of the terms. Use these keywords to search databases (e.g., Google Scholar ), using Boolean operators to refine your search.

Sources can include journal articles, books, and other source types , depending on the scope of the assignment. Read the abstracts or blurbs of the sources you find to see whether they’re relevant, and try exploring their bibliographies to discover more. If a particular source keeps showing up, it’s probably important.

Once you’ve selected an appropriate range of sources, read through them, taking notes that you can use to build up your annotations. You may even prefer to write your annotations as you go, while each source is fresh in your mind.

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 .

A source annotation in an annotated bibliography fulfills a similar purpose to an abstract : they’re both intended to summarize the approach and key points of a source.

However, an annotation may also evaluate the source , discussing the validity and effectiveness of its arguments. Even if your annotation is purely descriptive , you may have a different perspective on the source from the author and highlight different key points.

You should never just copy text from the abstract for your annotation, as doing so constitutes plagiarism .

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what is an evaluative annotation

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annotated Bibliographies

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:

What elements might an annotation include?

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?

Decisions, decisions.

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.

APA (American Psychological Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic APA bibliography formatting and rules.

CBE (Council of Biology Editors)/CSE (Council of Science Editors)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic CBE/CSE bibliography formatting and rules.

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.

Summary annotations

There are two kinds of summarizing annotations, informative and indicative.

Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:

Informative annotation

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

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:


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.

Writing style

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!

MLA Example

APA Example

CBE Example

Works consulted

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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What is an evaluative annotation?

Evaluative annotations (also known as "critical" annotations) summarize the key concepts in a text and make judgements about their quality (negative, good, or both). Your remarks should progress from textual specifics to your assessment of the source. You should never simply state that you are quoting or referencing a source; you must also comment on what that source says.

For example: "The author of this passage was apparently not familiar with Aristotle's Poetics because he/she uses the term'mimesis' in its modern sense - imitation - when discussing how poets imitate things that happen in life." This annotation points out an error in an essay on Shakespeare's plays written by a student who has probably not read much English literature. It is negative because it reveals that the student has misunderstood something important in the original text ; it is also helpful because it gives a specific reason for the misunderstanding.

Evaluative comments can be either positive or negative. Positive comments praise the quality of the idea presented in the text, while negative comments criticize certain aspects of the text that need improvement. Comments should never be simply affirmative or negative, but rather they should indicate why you like or dislike something about the source.

Table of Contents

What is the difference between highlighting and annotating, what do people write when they annotate books, what is the difference between an annotation and a summary, what are the two types of annotations, what does it mean to annotate a chapter, what is an annotation for a research paper.

Annotating is a method that is a step up from highlighting. After you've highlighted anything, create a sentence to explain to the reader why the word or phrase you highlighted is so significant. This entails developing a knowledge of what is written. Evaluating the information's accuracy is also important.

Simply said, annotation is the process of adding your own ideas or observations to a book or text. As a nonfiction reader, I've always enjoyed marking my books. Annotation helps me to return to favorite sections, interesting information, or important phrases. It also serves as an archive of my reading experience.

People write about books that influence them or that affect public life in general. They also write about books that upset them or make them laugh out loud. The books readers mark up fall into these two categories for them. Sometimes they add notes about changes made to books before they were published, such as when a scene was removed or added or a character's name was altered. Other times they discuss new information about known writers or events that have been discovered since their initial reads .

Book annotations can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. A book jacket provides plenty of space for authors and artists to display their thoughts on the story being told. Some use only this space while others write long essays discussing the work or its characters.

In fiction, characters often comment on or refer to other books . These references provide readers with additional context or insight into the world of the story. In addition, writers sometimes include annotations of their own works, which means more opportunities for fans to connect with their favorite authors.

An annotation is a brief summary or description of a piece of text. A summary is often a longer, more extensive, and complete examination of a text's important themes. A summary is more likely to include text quotations or paraphrases, as well as subarguments and subclaims. Annotation and summary are both used to explain or interpret something.

In academic writing , an annotation is usually a brief comment added directly to a word processing document to provide additional information about its content. These notes can be used to highlight particular phrases in the text, suggest further reading on related topics , or even point out errors in spelling or grammar. They can also be used to introduce or develop ideas not covered in the main body of the text.

Academic annotations should be written in a formal tone with accurate punctuation and sentence structure. They are usually placed at the end of a paragraph or across from where they will be referred to later in the essay (not at the end of the paper). Although they do not form part of the main text, academic annotations can still influence how readers view the surrounding material by providing them with relevant details or explanations.

Summary paragraphs serve a similar purpose to annotations but are generally longer and less frequent. Instead of commenting on each individual sentence, they provide a general overview or impression of the text's major ideas. They begin with a topic sentence that gives the sense of direction while also being concise enough to hold reader interest.

The following elements should be included in an informative annotation : the work's thesis, arguments or hypotheses, proofs, and a conclusion. Annotations that are informative give a straightforward overview of the source information. They encapsulate all pertinent information about the author as well as the essential themes of the work.

Informative annotations help readers understand important concepts or ideas in the source material. They provide evidence for claims made in the text, bring out connections between topics, and explain terms related to history, science, or other disciplines. In addition, they can help readers understand the writer's perspective by explaining their choices about what to include or not include in the source material.

Annotation is the act of providing explanatory notes or comments within a source document, usually but not limited to a book or article. An annotation may provide additional information about the source material or its writer that helps readers understand the text better. For example, an annotation might clarify confusing phrases or passages in the text or suggest ways of interpreting its findings. It could also point out errors in the text or supply alternative explanations for certain events.

Informative annotations are useful tools for students to better comprehend the content being studied. They offer insight into the author's views on various subjects and help readers connect ideas within the text. Additionally, informative annotations serve as great resources for teachers to engage their students in thoughtful discussions about the contents of the source material .

An annotation is a brief summary of a work, such as an article, a book chapter, a book, a website, or a movie. An annotation seeks to provide enough information to allow the reader to decide whether or not to read the entire text . Annotations might be descriptive or critical in nature. There should be an annotation.xml file in every chapter folder.

An annotation is a brief comment that appears after each citation in an annotated bibliography . The purpose is to summarize the source quickly and/or explain why it is relevant to the issue. They are normally one short paragraph long, but may be lengthier if you are summarizing and assessing. Annotations can be as detailed or concise as you like.

They are usually placed at the end of the bibliography section of your essay. However, because they are commentaries on the sources used, they do not have to appear in the order that they are referenced in the text.

The Chicago Manual of Style states that annotations should be included in the reference list even if you do not want to use them in the body of the essay. This is because citations are more meaningful when they are paired with some sort of commentary. This also makes sense because reviewers will know how important you think these sources are if you include an annotation for each one.

In addition to being informative, annotations can also be entertaining. You can include any kind of anecdote, quote, or funny story about the source. This shows the reader what kind of person or source it is and helps make the writing more personal.

Finally, annotations can help readers navigate through your bibliography . If there's something specific you want them to find, such as a particular author or article, then including an annotation for that source will make it much easier for them to locate it.

About Article Author

Richard White

Richard White

Richard White is a freelance writer and editor who has been published in The New York Times and other prominent media outlets. He has a knack for finding the perfect words to describe everyday life experiences and can often be found writing about things like politics, and social issues.

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Writing Evaluative Annotated Bibliographies

Dawn Atkinson

Chapter Overview

This chapter aims to help you understand what an annotated bibliography is and how this type of document can be used when planning assignments, conducting research, and evaluating sources. An annotated bibliography generally takes one of two forms: descriptive annotated bibliographies reference and briefly describe sources, while evaluative (or critical ) annotated bibliographies reference, succinctly summarize, and evaluate resources. Regardless of form, an annotated bibliography may be incorporated into a longer text, such as a formal report, or be produced as a stand-alone piece to document research work—for example, to accompany an in-depth assignment like a researched argument essay. Either way, the sources listed on an annotated bibliography should center on a topic or focus; if the annotated bibliography documents research efforts related to an associated assignment, the focus will reflect the author’s thesis, research questions (questions that a study seeks to answer), or research objectives.

The remainder of this chapter addresses evaluative annotated bibliographies.

What, specifically, is an evaluative annotated bibliography?

An evaluative annotated bibliography focuses on an overarching topic by listing pertinent references and by providing sentences that discuss and assess the resources identified in those references. Place the reference for a source at the beginning of an annotated bibliography entry, and then craft sentences and paragraphs about the source that do some or all of the following in accordance with the specifications for the assignment.

An annotation may also include information about an author’s credentials, the intended audience for a source, and the purpose of a text. Note that in technical and academic genres, authors oftentimes foreground the purposes of their works by indicating them early on, to help readers understand the overall direction of the writing. The purpose of a scholarly journal article, for instance, will typically be stated in its abstract , which is a summary of the article located after the publication’s title but before its introduction.

Why might you be asked to consider author credentials and date of publication when compiling sources for an annotated bibliography?

What does an evaluative annotated bibliography look like?

When constructing an annotated bibliography, follow your instructor’s directions about what information to include and how to format the document, and structure its references according to the style conventions specified. References in the following annotated bibliography entries adhere to APA style; the annotated bibliography as a whole also follows APA formatting conventions. The entries, which are adapted from McLaughlin (2020) as cited in Excelsior Online Writing Lab (2020, “Sample Annotated Bibliography”), feature combinations of the annotated bibliography information listed previously in this chapter and center on the topic of the transferability of writing skills , or applying knowledge and skills about writing gained in one context to another context—a practice that may advance a writer’s knowledge and skills. If you are asked to produce an annotated bibliography for a class, help readers navigate its contents by being consistent about the type of information you supply in each of its entries. In accordance with APA style, the references in the following sample are alphabetized by first author’s last name.

Boone, S., Biggs Chaney, S., Compton, J., Donahue, C., & Gocsik, K. (2012). Imagining a writing     and rhetoric program based on principles of knowledge “transfer”: Dartmouth’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. Composition Forum, 26 . http://compositionforum.com/issue/26/dartmouth.php

In this article, Boone et al. (2012) overview the writing program at Dartmouth College’s   Institute for Writing and Rhetoric to discuss an example of what a program based on      writing transfer research looks like. The authors trace the history of the program’s development, explain current curriculum and organization, and look at future directions for the program. Beginning with the idea that skills and knowledge do not all  transfer in the same way, program developers at Dartmouth set out to explore what kind of knowledge writing is and how this knowledge is transferred. By developing     curriculum and sequences of courses that foster reflection and connections to future courses and by encouraging faculty development, Dartmouth has established a thoughtfully constructed writing program that serves as a model for other such programs. The authors explore the state of research on the program and goals based on the results of their research.

This piece serves as a useful guide composed by writing program administrators and writing researchers who are interested in seeing how current studies of writing transfer can be applied to an operating program. The authors offer practical advice, include sample syllabi and curriculum, and honestly reflect on successes and struggles of the program. This article provides much-needed information for those interested in developing a writing program that aligns with transfer research.

Moore, J. (2012). Mapping the questions: The state of writing-related transfer research . Composition Forum, 26 . http://compositionforum.com/issue/26/map-questions-transfer-research.php

Moore (2012) reviews the literature on writing skill transfer in this article as a starting point for who those who are interested in the research area and are already conversant in the language of rhetoric and composition studies. The author begins by discussing the history of research on writing skill transfer, describing issues related to    common definitions and multi-institutional studies. She also explores the goals and methods of recent investigations and, ultimately, calls for explorations of new areas pertinent to writing transfer research. In doing the latter, she raises important   questions about how students’ involvement in non-writing courses and non-academic activities may influence what they do when writing.

Moore’s article provides a helpful overview of studies in the field of writing skill transfer and establishes a jumping-off point for new investigations in the area. I can use information from the article in my term paper introduction to establish context for the reader before exploring different dimensions of writing skill transfer in the body of the piece.

Wardle, E. (2007). Understanding ‘transfer’ from FYC: Preliminary results of a longitudinal study. Writing Program Administration, 31 (1-2), 65-85.  http://associationdatabase.co/archives/31n1-2/31n1-2wardle.pdf

In her report on a longitudinal study conducted at the University of Dayton, Wardle (2007) explores the transfer of writing skills from first-year college composition    courses. She begins by explaining that research is limited when it comes to transfer of   writing skills, even though transfer is seen as a key function of first-year writing     courses. The research that does exist indicates that the skills do not transfer well. With this in mind, Wardle established a curriculum designed to support writing transfer and followed students for two years after they had completed first-year composition. Her  research indicates that the skills from first-year writing did not transfer well, not because students were unable to make the transfer but because the writing assignments they encountered, along with a variety of other issues, made them feel there was no need to transfer the skills.

This longitudinal study is a foundational piece for writing program directors and   serves as a call for more research on writing skill transfer, particularly as it relates to first-year college writing courses. Consequently, lessons gleaned from this study continue to inform writing teachers, program directors, and researchers. In the article, Wardle cites her work with colleague Doug Downs. Together, Wardle and Downs are known as leaders in writing transfer research, which again speaks to the article’s  contribution as a trustworthy and influential piece of scholarship.

While the above sample focuses exclusively on the topic of writing skill transfer, an annotated bibliography that focuses on multiple topics related to a central theme may organize these under specific and informative headings to help readers distinguish one topic area from another. Additionally, if you are asked to produce an annotated bibliography as a stand-alone document, you may be required to provide an introduction to help set the context for the rest of the piece and to explain its purpose.

What are evaluative annotated bibliographies used for?

Because evaluative annotated bibliographies summarize, evaluate, and consider the relevance of sources, they can be used to narrow a research focus, to weigh up research in an area, and to document research findings. To illustrate, maybe you have been asked to compose an evaluative annotated bibliography on the way to producing a researched argument essay. Although you know which topic you want to write about in your essay, you are less clear about what the research says regarding this topic. After reading a book chapter and several journal, magazine, and newspaper articles on the topic, you begin drafting your annotated bibliography and notice that the sources discuss similar and opposing viewpoints and support these with various pieces of evidence. Although you were fairly certain of your perspective on the issue before you began the annotated bibliography assignment, you acknowledge that your view has expanded as a result of reading, writing about, and considering how the sources relate to your researched argument paper. Furthermore, by evaluating the sources for accuracy, quality, and relevance, you are also able to determine which ones best underpin your claims, as well as opposing claims. Thus, you are able to develop a focused thesis statement and supporting topic sentences for your essay that acknowledge the complexities of the topic. Furthermore, your annotated bibliography documents your research work for readers, communicating which sources you investigated for purposes of composing your researched argument and your evaluations of these sources.

Activity: Produce an Evaluative Annotated Bibliography Entry

Read Michael Bunn’s (2011) essay “How to Read Like a Writer,” which can be found at https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/books/writingspaces2/bunn–how-to-read.pdf . Bunn teaches in the University of Southern California’s Writing Program. After reading, reflect on the essay and its pertinence to your own reading and writing life by answering the four discussion questions on page 85 of the text. Be prepared to talk about your answers in class.

Once you have read, reflected on, and discussed the essay, produce an annotated bibliography entry for the source by following these steps.

Step 1: Write a complete, accurate APA reference list entry for the source.

Step 2 : Answer the following questions.

Step 3: Use the notes you have made to draft an evaluative annotated bibliography entry for the Bunn (2011) text. Refer to the information and examples provided in this chapter for guidance.

Homework: Produce an Evaluative Annotated Bibliography

Identify a topic of inquiry you can explore via means of an annotated bibliography. Your instructor may assign you a topic or ask you to select one. Research the topic by locating and reading sources about it; a librarian can help you identify a focused list of sources. Afterwards, compose an evaluative annotated bibliography that references, summarizes, and evaluates the sources. Your instructor may also ask you to identify author credentials and the intended audience and purpose for each source. In addition, you may be asked to discuss how the sources relate to a larger research aim. Since the evaluative annotated bibliography is a stand-alone assignment, supply an introduction to help set the context for the rest of the piece and to explain its purpose.

After drafting your evaluative annotated bibliography, your instructor may ask you to assess it in relation to the rubric criteria outlined in Rinto (2013, p. 10) in order to refine its content. The rubric is provided here in adapted format for your reference.

When refining your annotated bibliography, use the following handout, produced by the Writing and Communication Centre, University of Waterloo (n.d.), to ensure you have used the words that and which correctly.

 Which vs That: Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Clauses

Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Clauses

Which and that both introduce clauses (groups of words) that provide more information but are not grammatically necessary to the sentence.

e.g., The daily special, which was poached salmon , cost a lot. e.g., The dish that the sous-chef prepared turned out to be better than the daily special.

Using Restrictive Clauses: That

Use that when the information in the clause is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. It’s called a restrictive clause because it limits or affects the purpose of the sentence.

e.g., Suitcases that weigh more than 23kg must be checked.

that weigh more than 23 kg is necessary to the purpose of the sentence. If you removed this restrictive clause, it would imply that all suitcases must be checked, which isn’t what the author intends.

e.g., Drinks that have caffeine make it hard to fall asleep.

that have caffeine is also restrictive. If you take this part out, it suggests that all drinks make it hard to fall asleep.

Some writers will use which for a restrictive clause instead of that . This is technically fine, but if you are having any confusion about the distinctions between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, it is better to maintain a clear distinction between that and which , for clarity’s sake.

Using Non-Restrictive Clauses: Which

Use which when the information in the clause is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence. It might be helpful or interesting, but if you took it out, the sentence would still make sense.

e.g., The suitcase, which was stuffed with dirty clothes , didn’t fit in the overhead bin.

If which was removed: e.g., The suitcase didn’t fit in the overhead bin.

e.g., Coffee and tea, which both have caffeine , are Canada’s favourite morning drinks.

If which was removed: e.g., Coffee and tea are Canada’s favourite morning drinks.

Note that the non-restrictive which clause is set off by commas.

Use that without commas for a restrictive (necessary) clause. That is required more often than which . Use which with commas for a non-restrictive (not necessary) clause.

Write in that (for restrictive clauses) or which (for non-restrictive clauses).

Bunn, M. (2011). How to read like a writer. In C. Lowe, & P. Zemliansky (Eds.), Writing spaces: Readings on writing (Vol. 2, pp. 71-86). Parlor Press. License: CC-BY 4.0. https://wac.colostate.edu/docs/books/writingspaces2/bunn–how-to-read.pdf

Excelsior Online Writing Lab. (2020). Annotated bibliographies . License: CC-BY 4.0. https://owl.excelsior.edu/research/annotated-bibliographies/

Rinto, E.E. (2013). Developing and applying an information literacy rubric to student annotated bibliographies. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8 (3), 5-18.  License: CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 .  https://doi.org/10.18438/B8559F

Writing Centre, University of Waterloo. (n.d.). Which vs that: Restrictive and non-restrictive clauses . License: CC-BY-SA 4.0 . https://uwaterloo.ca/writing-and-communication-centre/sites/ca.writing-and-communication-centre/files/uploads/files/which_vs_that.pdf

Mindful Technical Writing by Dawn Atkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  1. Annotated Bibliographies: Evaluative Annotations

    Evaluative annotations (also known as "critical" annotations) summarize the essential ideas in a document and provide judgments—negative, positive, or both—about their quality. Evaluative annotations are typically three to four sentences long. Evaluative annotations usually begin with broad comments about the focus of the source then moves to more details.

  2. LibGuides: Annotated Bibliographies: Evaluative Annotations

    What is an Evaluative Annotation? Evaluative annotations (also known as "critical" annotations) summarize the essential ideas in a document and provide judgments—negative, positive, or both—about their quality. Evaluative annotations are typically three to four sentences long. Evaluative annotations usually begin with broad comments about ...

  3. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    Evaluative annotation example. An evaluative annotation also describes the content of a source, but it goes on to evaluate elements like the validity of the source's arguments and the appropriateness of its methods. For example, the following annotation describes, and evaluates the effectiveness of, a book about the history of Western philosophy.

  4. Writing Annotations

    Evaluative Style - This style analyzes and critically evaluates the source. The annotation should comment on the source's the strengths, weaknesses, and how it relates to the overall research topic. Example: Amott, T. (1993). Caught in the Crisis: Women in the U.S. Economy Today. New York: Monthly Review Press.

  5. Home

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (references) to books, articles, and documents followed by a brief summary, analysis or evaluation, usually between 100-300 words, of the sources that are cited in the paper. This summary provides a description of the contents of the source and may also include evaluative comments, such as the ...

  6. Annotated Bibliographies

    Critical/evaluative. 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.

  7. All Guides: Annotated Bibliographies: Types of Annotations

    There are four main types of annotations. Descriptive. A descriptive (also called an indicative) annotation gives a brief overview or summary of the text. This can include a: Description of the contents and a statement of the main argument (i.e., what is the book about?) Summary of the main points; can include topics or chapter titles; Evaluative

  8. LibGuides: How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: Types

    The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to present an overview of the published literature on a topic. Descriptive annotations provide a summary of the work. Evaluative annotations criticize or include value judgments of the work. Combination annotations summarize and evaluate the work. Highlight strengths and weaknesses of the sources.

  9. What Is an Evaluative Annotation?

    An annotation is a brief summary or description of a piece of text. A summary is often a longer, more extensive, and complete examination of a text's important themes. A summary is more likely to include text quotations or paraphrases, as well as subarguments and subclaims. Annotation and summary are both used to explain or interpret something.

  10. Writing Evaluative Annotated Bibliographies

    Since the evaluative annotated bibliography is a stand-alone assignment, supply an introduction to help set the context for the rest of the piece and to explain its purpose. After drafting your evaluative annotated bibliography, your instructor may ask you to assess it in relation to the rubric criteria outlined in Rinto (2013, p.

  11. Evaluative Annotated Bibliography

    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?

  12. How to Create an Annotated Bibliograpy

    Evaluative annotations are typically three to four sentences long. Evaluative annotations usually begin with broad comments about the focus of the source then moves to more details. Your comments should move from the details of the text to your evaluation of the source. Evaluative annotations may contain the following type of information:

  13. Annotated Bibliographies: Summative Annotations

    Summative annotations are typically two to three sentences long and include no statements of the source's relevance to your paper or critical remarks evaluating the source's quality. Summative annotations may include the following type of information: The hypothesis of the work; The methodology of the work; The author's main points

  14. Evaluating your Annotations

    Few annotations adequately describe the content, are the right length or offer much insight into the subject. Most annotations do not adequately describe the content, are not the right length and provide NO insight. Evaluations. Evaluation clearly explains why sources are included and demonstrates good understanding of the research process.

  15. How to write an annotated bibliography

    The second annotation is longer than the first, but it is also evaluative. A descriptive annotation is simply a list of topics an author talks about, while an evaluative annotation states conclusively what the author thought about, how he/she thought about it, and what it finally meant for the piece of writing he/she produced.

  16. APA Citation Guide (7th edition) : Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. The annotated bibliography looks like a Reference 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 ...

  17. MLA Citation Guide (MLA 8th Edition): Annotated Bibliography

    An evaluative annotation includes a summary as listed above but also critically assesses the work for accuracy, relevance, and quality. Evaluative annotations can help you learn about your topic, develop a thesis statement, decide if a specific source will be useful for your assignment, and determine if there is enough valid information ...

  18. LibGuides: Citations

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. It looks like a Works Cited 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 ...

  19. APA Citation Guide (7th Edition): Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for various books, articles, and other sources on a topic. 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.

  20. The Annotated Bibliography

    What Is an Annotated Bibliography? 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 ...