Helpful Tips on Writing Annotated Bibliography

If you do not know how to write an annotated bibliography, the following basic details will help you get an A grade. Before writing a research paper, term project, essay, etc., students are asked to submit annotated bibliographies, which are characterized as a list of sources (usually scholarly ones) that relate to the given topic. Every student is obliged to carry out research – gather relevant books, journal articles, etc. that illustrate the subject of discussion. Every name of source (or citation) should be followed by an annotation. It usually contains no more than 150 words that evaluate the content of the text.

No matter what major you choose, you should know how to write an annotated bibliography because this writing task will be assigned in every class. However, please do not get upset if you still do not understand what this task presumes. The most commonly faced problem among students is the lack of time spent on proper research, which automatically influences the quality of annotated bibliography writing. If you are not able to read the content of journal articles, most likely, you will not succeed in their evaluation.

Usually professors assign very detailed requirements for an annotated bibliography. We always advise students to read the task file till the end; otherwise, there are high chances that you will overlook the basic details and lose some points.

Goals of Writing Annotated Bibliographies

Students wondering how to make an annotated bibliography must understand the primary purpose of this writing task. Annotated bibliography writing gives students an opportunity to realize the discussion around the topic they want to explore. Annotated bibliographies allow students to know what has been already done by researchers and how they can personally contribute to further topic exploration.

The Process of Research

If to read the annotated bibliography definition, you will see that this writing task is highly interdependent with the research process. Therefore, be ready that you will have to spend a great deal of time to find appropriate sources for your bibliography. Undoubtedly, everything depends on the number of references that your professor asks you to include in the research paper. You will have to focus on books, scholarly articles, interviews, etc. that directly relate to the chosen topic. However, be sure to include only credible and newly published sources because professors usually to not accept those that were published more than 5 years ago. If you do not know if the book or journal article discusses your topic, you can read a summary or abstract not to waste time on reading. Finally, you should focus on versatile sources that illustrate the subject matter from different perspectives.

The Citation in Annotated Bibliographies

Read the task file to see which citation style can be used in the writing assignment. Students who ask “What is annotated bibliography” underestimate the importance of citation styles. If you are not sure how to properly format all sources, how to settle margins, subheadings, etc. no one restrains you from surfing the net. There are plenty of online writing labs that will explain you the smallest peculiarities of each citation style. The most commonly used styles in academic writing are APA, ASA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.

A Common Annotation

A typical annotated bibliography format contains such statements:

  • The length of each annotation should be between 150-250 words. However, this requirement might change according to professor’s instructions.
  • There should be a brief summary of the key discussed points from the article/book, etc. What is writer’s position regarding the research question?
  • A critical evaluation of the reliability and credibility of author’s standpoints. Since annotated bibliographies are short, it is advisable to exclude direct quotations.
  • Comparison of how author’s arguments are similar or different to other research ideas? Did the author made substantial contribution to the exploration of the chosen topic?