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Citation Guides: Creating an Annotated Bibliography

Learn how to cite your sources in APA, Chicago / Turabian, and MLA format.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is like a works cited page that lists all the sources used in a paper, organized in alphabetical order by the author's last name, only this kind of bibliography has a paragraph or two that summarizes and evaluates the contents of each source. Annotated bibliographies are useful because they can help you sort relevant resources from the irrelevant sources for an upcoming research paper or project. They have two parts:

  1. A citation in proper MLA format for each resource.
  2. A summary that explains the resource and evaluates whether or not it will help you in your research paper. Make sure to check with your instructor for specific guidelines about how many resources you should have, the length per each summary and evaluation, and  the specific information you need to include for each resource.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Here is some general information on the kinds of information you should typically include for each resource in your annotated bibliography. Please make sure to follow your instructor's specific requirements because these are just meant to be general guidelines.

  • The author's name and brief statement about what they do for a living (i.e., professor of English) and the name of the institution where they work (i.e, University of California Merced).
  • A brief summary of the of the article, book, or website (about 2-4 sentences). A summary is a restatement of a source's main idea or ideas written in your own words.
  • A description of the intended audience of the article, book, or website.
  • An evaluation of the source's usefulness, reliability, strengths and weaknesses, and its value for your research. To answer this section, think about how you can use the resource, or parts of it, in your future paper. What questions does it help answer? What argument does it help support? What argument does it help refute? These questions help you to examine whether a source is really going to help you when it comes time to write your paper.

What's an Annotated Bibliography?

Brock University Library (1:42)

Real Student Examples of Annotated Bibliographies in APA Format

Here are some real student examples provided by a Merced College instructor. All identifiable information has been removed.