Creating an Annotated Bibliography
What is an annotated bibliography?
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 information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles. The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.
Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:
- Main focus or purpose of the work
- Usefulness or relevance to your research topic
- Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
- Background and credibility of the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by you
Annotations versus abstracts
Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article, to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.
Annotated Bibliography Samples - MLA 8th edition
Note that all citations and their annotations should be double-spaced.
Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement. New York UP, 2014. This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.
Journal article example
Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004. Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns. This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.
- MLA handbook for writers of research papers (print version)
- MLA Style - Quick Guide by Eric Garcia
- Sample MLA-Style Annotated Bibliography (PDF) by Dr. Karin Durán
- MLA Style Guide (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- MLA - Frequently Asked Questions
- EasyBib MLA style bibliography composer
- Citing Archival Materials in MLA
Ask a Librarian
At reference desk most hours the library is open.