How To Make An Annotated Bibliography

There will be times when your professor requires you to include an annotated bibliography for the sources that you used in your research paper. Many students are not familiar with an annotated bibliography, and it can sound scary at first. It is different from a standard works cited page where you simply list the sources that you used in your paper. An annotation is an explanation, or a summary of each of the books that you used to write you individual research paper. You will need to hold on to each of your sources until you are ready to compose your annotated bibliography because you will have to reference various elements of the books.

When you are writing an annotated bibliography, there is a specific format that you must follow in order to avoid getting points taken off for not following the pre-established format. Some of the guidelines include:

  • You will follow the format of either MLA or APA for the citations of the works- this will depend on whether you are writing the paper for a liberal arts or social sciences class.
  • You will need the title, author, date of publication, publisher information, etc.
  • The annotation will have to be a paragraph of information that summarizes the book and how you used it in the context of your research paper.

This is a great way for you to learn about the author and the work on its own, and believe it or not it may help you with the composition of your research paper content. Students often over look the element of reading the entire book that they are using to help write a research paper. Many students will simply find information that supports his or her research paper topic, and then move on to finding a source to support the next piece of information that he or she would like to include. This is ill advised because the information within the larger text might not actually support the argument that you are trying to make.

Sometimes it is better for students to write an annotated bibliography on the sources that they are considering before actually including the information in the larger text in order to gain an understanding of the purpose of the source. Once the student understands the purpose of the source, he or she will be able to understand if the source is actually supporting the argument that is being made in the paper or not.


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