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The Ultimate Annotated Bibliography Guide With Free Examples

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Published on: Feb 6, 2023

Last updated on: Feb 6, 2023

Annotated Bibliography

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So you have been assigned an annotated bibliography and haven't cited a single source. 

Indeed-Most students are clueless about what an annotated bibliography is let alone its format and submit a subpar paper. This often results in an F grade or paper being trashed away.

Don't let your teacher toss away your paper like that!

We've compiled everything you need to know about annotated bibliographies into one easy-to-read blog. With formatting advice, examples, to research assistance, your work will be superior before you know it! 

So don't wait any longer- Let's make your annotated bibliography writing a breeze!

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography goes beyond a mere list of references. 

It is an organized compilation of citations that assists you in assessing the relevance of each source of your paper.

As per the annotated bibliography definition

  • ‘Annotate’ means to provide notes 
  • ‘Bibliography’ is a reference list. 

So, an annotated bibliography is simply making notes for each source listed on your reference list.

Annotations can range from summaries and reflections to critiques and assessments. Each offers an opportunity for you to explore different ways of thinking about that particular idea. 

Annotations are a perfect way to ensure you have all the information you need at your fingertips!

Why Write Annotations?

Annotations are an important part of any research project. They provide insights into the quality of your sources and can help you focus on the relevant material.

In short, annotations demonstrate that you’re…

  • Well-read
  • Engaged with the literature 
  • Are able to make a critical assessment of the material.

In addition, annotations help you stay organized while researching. They’re like bookmarks that allow you to quickly access information when needed. So, you have access to a custom library filled with resources specifically tailored to meet your project’s needs.

Difference Between Abstract, Annotation, and Literature Review

Although abstracts, annotations, and literature reviews are referenced in research projects, they each serve different purposes. 

Annotated bibliographyAbstractLiterature review

Brief summaries and evaluations of the cited work

Brief summary of the publisher’s paper

Brief overview of the existing scholarly article on the variable of the study at hand.

Included at the end of the scholarly paper

Included at the beginning of the scholarly paper

Placed in between the paper. Typically after the introduction chapter.

Typically includes a comprehensive paragraph under each citation

Normally one paragraph long

Includes multiple paragraphs placed under each variable.

The aim is to understand different research papers and build the credibility of the writer.

The goal is to provide an overview of the author’s paperThe goal is to identify gaps in the current research. Plus it provides an overview of the current state of knowledge on the topic.

In short: 

  • An abstract is a brief summary of the main points of a paper or book. 
  • An annotation is a descriptive comment that explains the importance, relevance, or accuracy of the source material
  • A literature review summarizes the most important points in a paper or book.

It's important to understand the differences between all three, as each has its own purpose, style, and length. 

Here is a complete guide on annotated bibliography with the sample. Use it as a sample every time you are assigned annotated bibliography task.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step-by-Step

Creating an annotated bibliography can be a daunting task. But with the right tools and resources, you’ll find that it’s not as difficult as it may seem. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an amazing annotated bibliography: 

Step 1: Analysis of Sources

Start by carefully reading through each source and taking notes as you go. Look for key ideas, arguments, evidence, theories, and other important information presented in the sources. 

When researching for your project, take care to select only sources that are reliable, current, and relevant. 

Use a variety of books, journals, and websites when gathering information. This will give you the most comprehensive understanding of your topic. 

Doing so will make certain that yours stands out from other projects!

Step 2: Create Your Annotations

Once you have completed your analysis of each source, it’s time to start creating your annotations. Annotations should be brief. They should not be longer than a few sentences. 

The first and foremost step is to learn the types of annotations your instructors demanded. Typically there are  4 types of annotations that your instructor might want.

1. Indicative/ Descriptive Annotation

A descriptive annotation provides a summary of the content of a document. It usually presents the argument, main points, or research findings presented in the text.

Descriptive annotations provide an overview of what is being said by the author while attempting to remain neutral and unbiased. 

2. Informative/Summary Annotations

A summary annotation goes a bit further than a descriptive annotation. It includes an evaluation of the content and quality of the work. Alongside these types also include a description of its main points. 

3. Evaluation Annotations

An evaluation annotation provides an opinion or judgment about the source. It may also include a recommendation as to whether the work should be read by others or not.

4. Combination Annotations

A combination annotation is a mix of descriptive, summary, critical, and evaluation annotations. It provides an overview of the content as well as insights into its usefulness or quality.

Writing Style for Annotations

When writing annotations, be sure to use a formal yet conversational tone. Stay objective and focus on the content of the source rather than your opinion of it. 

Be careful of the citation style chosen. That is, whether you have opted for an APA annotation or MLA style. All of the styles have different formats that need to be followed.

Watch this video to learn all about annotated bibliography from scratch. 

Step 3: Format Your Annotations

Annotated bibliography format should be according to the style guide you are using. Make sure to follow the guidelines for citations and bibliographic entries as well. 

Include all relevant information in your annotation. Such as the author's name, date of publication, the title of the work, etc.

Don't forget the spacing as some formats require double space as mandatory.

Here is a sample just for your ease. Download it to create a meaningful annotated bibliography.

Click on this teacher’s annotated bibliography evaluation rubric to understand the key ingredients involved.

Now that you are familiar with your annotated bibliography generator steps. Let's read some of our expert examples.

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Annotated Bibliography Samples

If you’re stuck and need more help, consider looking at some annotated bibliography samples for inspiration. This will give you an idea of how to structure your own annotation. 

In fact, an annotated bibliography sample is a great way to learn the type of content required in citing sources.

MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Annotated Bibliographies can be a powerful tool for success. The MLA Annotation stands as no exception.

Here is a sample of an annotated bibliography in MLA format.


Cooray, Vernon, et al. “Lightning-caused Injuries in Humans.” Lightning Protection, edited by Vernon Cooray, Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2010, pp. 901-924. EBSCO eBook Collection

This book is designed to empower lightning protection engineers with the knowledge and scientific understanding. They learn to make informed decisions, even when conventional engineering processes are not enough. By mastering this art form, readers can become experts at providing effective lightning protection that exceeds expectations. 

This chapter is especially pertinent to my research since it details the common injuries sustained by lightning strike survivors. Also, it outlines preventive and curative measures that can be used. 

Continue reading to understand how to annotate a bibliography for a journal in MLA format.

MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography for a Journal 

Hill, David. "Preventing Lightning Strikes." American School & University, vol. 71, no. 11, July 1999, p. 55. Masterfile Premier

David Hill, Director of Facilities and Operations shares his knowledge through this academic journal article. Hill is an authority on creating a lightning safety plan for educational institutions. The article provides succinct information and finishes with a link to another resource-rich website concerning lightning defense for academic establishments. This highly-credible and balanced article was published in July 1999, giving readers assurance that it is reliable.

These examples will be very helpful in helping you craft an effective annotation that meets your instructor’s expectations.

MLA 8th Annotated Bibliography Examples

In the 8th edition of MLA style, the annotations are slightly different than in the 9th edition. Under the citation section, you’ll find an example of how to cite a book.

Mla 8th Annotated Bibliography Sample for a Book

Smith, John. “Causes of the Russian Revolution.” Critical Essays on the Russian Revolution, edited by David Fry, MIT P, 1973, pp. 91-133. 

Professor Smith uncovered documents from the 1970s that became pivotal in his research for this book chapter. He has uncovered a few germans responsible for kickstarting the Russian Revolution. Their contribution was monumental: providing funds, weaponry, and leadership to get things moving. Does Smith offer a dramatically distinct perspective in comparison to Mark Johnson's Why the Red Revolution? 

However, Smith may have sacrificed objectivity due to their anti-German disposition which was flagged by two other sources. Smith's text is tailored towards scholars, yet its language will still be comprehensible by any well-informed member of the public. Laden with argumentative prose and corroborated footnotes; This piece holds tremendous relevance to my topic which examines anarchists' role in the Russian Revolution. 

Students are often asked to write annotated bibliographies as part of their final-year projects. Therefore, the below sample is a perfect technique to do so.

Mla 8th Annotated Bibliography Sample for a Journal 

Holle, Ronald L., et al. "Deaths, Injuries, and Damages from Lightning in the United States in the 1890s in Comparison with the 1990s." Journal of Applied Meteorology, vol. 44, no. 10, Oct. 2005, pp. 1563-73. 

This scholarly journal article is a detailed exploration of lightning fatalities in the United States, featuring graphs and illustrations. 
R. Lopez hails from Simpsonville, South Carolina, while B. Navarro is affiliated with Weathernews in Norman, Oklahoma. Both made significant contributions to bring you this work today. With the authors' credentials and an article published in a scholarly journal, this piece is both credible and dependable. 

APA 7th Annotated Bibliography Examples

The APA formatting standard is an effective and easy-to-use system for citing sources. An important part of the APA 7th formatting standard is the APA annotated bibliography. 

Here are two annotated bibliography examples -APA style for you.

Annotated Bibliography -APA Style for Book 

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. Henry Holt and Company.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a renowned journalist, and nonfiction author provides an investigative account of low-wage labor in America. Her compelling book examines the issue of minimum wage. She shares insights gathered through her own personal experiment on the matter undergoing research into poverty-level wages in the UK.

Since 1998, the author has been striving to answer one critical question. Is it possible for someone to live on a minimum wage in America? To find out, she took on various jobs such as waiting tables and working at Walmart. All while only earning either $6 or $7 an hour. 

Would her experiment prove that living off of hardly anything is realistic? Ehrenreich speaks of her journeys through the jobs, revealing tales about her colleagues and bosses. She shares stories of having to face financial hardships.

Her extraordinary writing has been recognized with a National Book Critics Circle Award nomination. On top of that, she is an esteemed journalist who has authored numerous books. 

She admits that her experiment is limited and biased as she ousted public transportation or live in shelters. Two factors that can be a major factor when living off of $6 or $7 an hour. She offers compelling evidence from her interviews and government agencies in the form of footnotes. This book takes us back to the 19th century while highlighting the ever-existent issue of the wage rate

Here is another sample of an APA annotated bibliography to ease your burden. Read the sample to understand how to format a journal.

APA Annotated Bibliography for Journal 

Johnston, M.P. (2013). School librarian & technology specialist: Partnership for effective technology integration. Knowledge Quest, 42(1), 70-75. 

Johnston’s objective is to fervently encourage open communication between school librarians and technology specialists. Something that should be obligatory in our advancing digital world.

For educational institutions to successfully leverage technology, it is essential for librarians and tech specialists to collaborate and support one another. By joining forces, media specialists, librarians, and technology experts can assist the school significantly while introducing new technologies into the classroom.

Maximizing the productivity of all involved for the successful integration of technology in education requires open communication. When a strong relationship exists that prioritizes consideration on both sides, opportunities created by tech will be unlocked.

Chicago Annotated Bibliography Example

This style follows the same basic APA formatting as other annotated bibliographies. However, there are certain slight differences in the APA formatting for this style.

For instance,

  • Double-spaced entries as opposed to single-spaced
  • Parenthetical referencing within leading sentences rather than in footnotes or endnotes. 

Here is a sample to make the difference clear.

Chicago Annotated Bibliography Style

Battle, Ken. "Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits." In A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada, edited by Katherine Covell and Howe, R. Brian, 21-44. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007.

Ken Battle's deep knowledge of government documents has come together to reveal the aims and objectives behind Canada's child benefit programs. His work provides evidence that society members ought to support children by investing in their upbringing. 

His comparison of the rates of child poverty between different countries implies that Canada still has room for improvement. Battle emphasizes how unjustly National Child Benefit (NCB) was portrayed by politicians and journalists. We should strive to spread more awareness about this issue. And make sure our society works towards providing better well-being conditions for all its citizens.

Whether it is MLA, APA, or Chicago, download our annotated bibliography template to save your time and effort. 

Helpful Vocabulary for Writing Annotated Bibliographies

To effectively write an annotation, you’ll need to use specific vocabulary. Here are some helpful words that can help you when writing your annotation:

Vocabulary Explanation 
Critique An evaluation of the source which includes an opinion.
In-text citationA reference to the source in the text of your annotation
End-text citationA reference to the source in your list at the end of your annotation
Primary dataData that has been collected directly from a study or research
Secondary dataData that has been gathered from sources already in existence
Research objectivesThe goals or aims of the research project
Analysis The process of examining and interpreting data in order to reach a  conclusion
HypothesisA statement related to the research objectives that can be tested 
Sample The part of the population under study.

Familiarizing with annotated vocabulary makes it easier to communicate ideas effectively and efficiently when;

  • Researching
  • Writing papers
  • Participating in panel discussions 

Ultimately, developing an expansive research vocabulary is highly beneficial to academic success.

So there you have it!

We have successfully delivered our promise of providing you with all the information in an annotated bibliography. Writing such a bibliography can be tedious and boring. However, by following our simple steps, you can easily create a quality product that will impress your readers.

Plus our expert samples splendidly give you a better idea of what your finished product should look like. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 Parts of an Annotated Bibliography?

Here are the three main components to an annotated bibliography:

  • The citation
  • The summary 
  • The critical evaluation

What are the 2 Major Purposes of an Annotated Bibliography?

There are many purposes to an annotated bibliography, but the two most common are as follows

  • To provide a summary of each source
  •  To offer an assessment of how each source will be useful in your research.

How Long Should an Annotated Bibliography be?

The length of each summary and evaluation is based on the sources that are being cited. Generally, though, an annotation should be around 100-200 words long.

Nova A.


Nova A. (Marketing, Literature)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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