Home / Blog / What is an Annotated Bibliography and how to write it | Guide with Tips & Examples

Have you ever been really into your research project, spending so much time on it, and feeling like you're almost done? Well, that's when you realize – there's one more thing to do: the annotated bibliography. It's like the hero of your paper; the last thing you need to make everything fit perfectly. For this you must be aware of what is an annotated bibliography?

Sometimes, scholars are curious to learn more about the background of a source and the reasons why the authors highlight it in their writing. Annotated bibliographies can be useful in this situation. When teachers assign this as a task to students, they are mostly unaware of it. So, it's crucial to know what an annotated bibliography is. In this blog, we'll discuss the annotated bibliography definition, its purpose, how to write it, and what tips you can follow to write it effectively. But what if you find yourself struggling with this task? Fear not, as Nerdpapers offers professional annotated bibliography writing service to assist you in this endeavor.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

A list of source references with a brief description (an annotation) for each source is called an annotated bibliography. It may be given as part of the research process for a paper or as an individual project to acquire and read relevant literature on a topic.

The main question that students mostly asked is, what's the purpose of an annotated bibliography? Surprisingly, it's not just for your teacher. Annotations also benefit you. Your reference list is often created as you start your topic research. Since it summarizes the source, you begin to investigate the subject more thoroughly in order to get data for your annotations. This allows you to better comprehend the subject and sources for your thesis.

Bibliography vs Annotated Bibliography: Key Differences

It is important to know the difference between a bibliography and an annotated bibliography before writing your research paper, dissertation or thesis.

A bibliography is just a list of the sources you used for your study. An annotated bibliography, on the other hand, gives a summary or analysis of each source. It can help you organize your research and can also show you how other people see your subject or area of study. For example, reading other people's accounts can help you come up with new study questions or ways to do your own.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography [Expert Opinion]

We divide the process of generating an annotated bibliography into several parts in this section. Always read your assignment instructions thoroughly before beginning so you know what your instructor expects from you. Conducting a thorough literature review is essential for identifying gaps in existing research and understanding the broader scholarly conversation surrounding your topic. By integrating insights gained from the literature review into your annotations, you can provide a nuanced evaluation of each source's contribution to the field.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Identify your sources

For your assignment, your instructor will probably want you to use peer-reviewed materials. You can use Google Scholar or other academic databases to look for peer-reviewed publications. Ask your lecturer for assistance locating sources, or plan a visit with a librarian who can guide you through academic databases. Your instructor may recommend utilizing peer-reviewed materials, especially if your research focuses on biographical subjects. If you're struggling to locate relevant sources, consider reaching out to a biography writing service for assistance in finding reputable and scholarly materials.

Do the analysis of the sources

You must critically examine the sources and research related to your topic while creating an annotated bibliography. So, when you're using information, think about who wrote it and what they know. Also, check when it was published because things change, and you want ideas that match what's happening now. Make sure the author knows their stuff and that the information is up-to-date.

Other than checking who wrote the study, make sure the journal or publisher it came from is trustworthy and reviewed by experts in that field. If the journal isn't well-known or isn't considered reliable, the research might not be good for your arguments or analysis. Some other things to keep in mind are:

  • The target market
  • Mistakes
  • Facts omitted
  • Bias Views that are misrepresented as fact

Analyzing all of these different aspects critically allows you to determine whether a source is reputable, relevant to your project or research, and serves to answer your thesis.

Read your sources

You should spend some time reading each source after evaluating the other ones. Don't just scan the information; carefully read each source and make thorough notes. When you're writing your annotations, those notes will be helpful.

Make your citations

It's a good idea to go ahead and make an exact citation for every source you've read. You will most likely utilize MLA, APA, Harvard, or Chicago style citations, though it will depend on your instructor's exact requirements.

Create your annotations

You should then write your annotations' initial draft. These explanatory paragraphs highlight the primary point of the source, evaluate its reliability, and go over how it relates to your bigger project or a particular area of study.

Usually, annotations range in length from 100 to 300 words. We provide an example reference and annotation for a scholarly source in the next section. Depending on the word count, you could mention:

  • A summary of the reference
  • A brief overview of the primary argument(s) in the source
  • An analysis of the reliability of the source and how it compares
  • to previous studies in the field
  • A quick analysis of the source's shortcomings
  • A brief description of how the material might be used in a larger project or research article

Format your bibliography

Ensure that your annotated bibliography format complies with the requirements of the formatting guide you are using. Below, three common formatting styles are discussed:

The citation style you choose will have a big impact on how your assignment looks. Annotated bibliographies, however, usually conform to the formatting guidelines for other types of academic writing.

  • 1" margins
  • Using a readable font such as Times New Roman (Note: APA specifies a certain font.)
  • Suitable font size is often 11 or 12 points.
  • There should be double space throughout the second and following lines of bibliographic citations, which should be indented.
  • Every new paragraph needs to be indented.

Every annotated bibliography includes a citation, a comment, and a title. The way you write your title and reference depends on your style, but the annotation is the same for everyone.

What is an Annotated Bibliography Example?

Explore examples of annotated bibliographies in the various styles. Here is a quick overview of when to utilize MLA, Chicago, and APA styles.

In APA Format

According to APA Style, the reference entry and the annotations should be aligned to the left and double-spaced.

There should be a dangling indent on the reference entry itself. The annotation appears in the following line, and its indentation must align with the hanging indent used throughout. Any further paragraphs' initial line needs to be indented one more time.

For example:

Chang, L. S. (2015). The Role of Technology in Modern Agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Innovation, 22(3), 189-205.

This article by Chang looks into how technology is changing farming nowadays. The author talks about how new technologies are making traditional farming methods different and discusses how it affects how much we can produce and how sustainable it is. If you're curious about how technology and farming come together, this article is a great read. It gives you a better understanding of how farming is changing because of new technologies.

In MLA Format

The preferred format for language arts and humanities papers among college and high school students is an MLA annotated bibliography. The surname and page number header formatting, as well as MLA style citations, are used in this style.

For example

Johnson, Emily R. Our Fragile Oceans: Understanding Marine Ecosystems in Peril.

National Geographic, 2019.


Johnson wrote a cool book about the oceans and why we need to care about them. She uses pictures and easy-to-understand science to show how marine life is in trouble. The book is not just for scientists; anyone who wants to know about the ocean and why it's important should check it out.

Chicago Style

Annotated bibliographies in the Chicago style are a catch-all format that includes author-date and notes-bibliography citations. Moreover, the annotation in Chicago style stays the same, but the citation may differ depending on the style.

Example of Chicago Style

United Nations. Climate Action Report 2022.
United Nations, 2022.


This paper from the United Nations talks about what the whole world is doing to deal with climate change. It gives a big picture of the rules, plans, and problems on a global scale. If you want the latest info on how countries are handling climate issues, this report is a really useful source.

Review and edit

Lastly, before submitting your assignment, make sure it is error-free. Also, examine the citations you made carefully, going over each annotation to check for style and grammatical mistakes.

Best Tips for Annotated Bibliography

The following tips will assist you in creating a strong assignment:

Tips for Annotated bibliography

Consult a librarian

You should consult a librarian who can assist you with your research before you begin locating the materials for your annotated bibliography. Moreover, librarians at colleges and schools can help you with keyword generation, using scholarly databases, and assessing the reliability of sources.

Check your sources thoroughly

To produce an excellent annotation, you must thoroughly read every academic source. Make a list of the things you want to add in your annotation as you read.

Be Objective

When writing annotations, make sure they are objective and free of bias or personal opinion. This will make it easier to present an accurate summary of the source material and show readers why it matters for their research project.

For your citations, make use of a reliable citation generator

Use MyBib or another reliable citation generator to save time while producing citations for your assignment. For academic materials, MyBib can automatically create citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other common citation formats.

Use language that is precise, succinct, and clear

When writing your annotations, make sure you use accurate, concise, and clear language. The majority of annotations will only be one or two paragraphs long. Therefore, your summary and evaluation should be quite brief.

Ask a friend, relative, or fellow student to review your completed work

Request a friend, classmate, or family member to proofread your work to make sure you followed the assignment criteria for your annotated bibliography. Also, your annotations and citations are accurate. This will assist you in identifying any mistakes before submitting it.

Final Words

When you're writing a research paper or presentation, making an annotated bibliography is important. It helps you check if your sources are trustworthy and relevant. Moreover, it is like a list where, for each source, you write a short summary explaining why it's useful. This helps your readers see how good and how many sources you used. It also helps you double-check that your references are correct and saves you time later. So, start early and be ready if you need to make one. Just follow the rules on how to do it, and you can make a great annotated bibliography that your teachers will like. And if you're ever in need, Nerdpapers can help you in your write my paper for me requests, ensuring a top-notch paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is an annotated bibliography?

Ans. It is a list of references to papers, books, journals, magazines, websites, and other sources together with a brief description that assesses and summarizes each one. The term "annotation" refers to the descriptive paragraph.

Q2: What are the parts of an annotated bibliography?

Ans. It includes full bibliographic citations for sources as well as an annotation for each source that summarizes and assesses it.

Q3: What does an annotated bibliography look like?

Ans. When you make an assignment, how it looks depends on the style you're using. But in general, you'll have a citation for each source, and right under that, you'll write a short explanation (that's the annotation) about why the source is important or useful. So, it's like a list with info about each source.

Q4: How long should an annotated bibliography be?

Ans. The length depends on the assignment instructions. Some teachers ask you to use 8-10 sources. Usually, annotations vary in length from 100 to 300 words.

Q5: What kinds of annotations are there?

Ans. There are three different kinds of annotations: evaluative, summary, and descriptive. You have the option to use either one of them or all three of them in the bibliography annotations.

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