annotated bibliography example

Why Write Annotations?

One of the main questions students have is what the purpose of an annotation is. Surprise, it’s not just for your teacher. Annotations help you, too. Many times, you create your reference list as you begin researching your topic. Since you summarize the source in an annotated bibliography, you start to delve into the topic more critically to collect the information for your annotations. This helps you better understand the subject and sources to help you create your thesis.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step-by-Step

The creation of an annotated bibliography is a three-step process. It starts with evaluating sources to find the ones that will genuinely make your paper shine. You’ll then begin writing your annotation for each different source. The final step is to choose your citation style. Now that you know the three-step process, let’s check out each step in turn.

Step 1: Analysis of Sources

When it comes to an annotated bibliography, you have to critically look at your topic’s sources and research. Therefore, you need to look at the author’s qualifications and credentials, along with the date of the study itself. Since new thoughts and literary movements are happening all the time, you want to make sure the analysis and opinions you use are relevant to your topic and current times.

In addition to the author, make sure the publisher or journal where you found the research is distinguished and reviewed by professionals in the field. Research by an unknown or unreputable journal will not make a good source for your arguments or analysis. Other areas you’ll want to be aware of include:

  • The intended audience
  • Errors
  • Omissions of facts
  • Bias
  • Opinions presented as truths

Critically analyzing all these different areas helps you evaluate if a source is credible, helpful to your project or research, and works to answer your thesis.

Step 2: Create Your Annotations


Now that you’ve used your critical academic eye to dive deep into your sources, it’s time to create annotations for them. Annotations aren’t one size fits all. Therefore, there are different ways you can create them, depending on your intent. You might choose to use descriptive, summary, or evaluation in your annotations or a combination of all three. Just remember to always include what your instructor asks for.

Indicative/Descriptive Annotations

Descriptive or indicative annotations do just what they say. They describe the source. Indicative annotations give you a quick summary of the source and argument and describe the main points and even chapters within the source. See how this indicative annotation example in MLA works.

Example


Zachs, Mitch. The Little Book of Stock Market Profits. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

This book covers a wide variety of strategies used in the stock market throughout the years to improve performance. Insightful chapters within the text include “Understanding the Markets,” “Using Profits to Achieve Your Elusive Goals,” and “The Challenge of Investing.”

Informative/Summary Annotations


Summary annotations simply provide a summary of your different sources. Within them, you describe the main arguments or points along with the various topics covered. This is where you show why this source was essential and made it to your list. See an example of informative annotations at play.

Informative Annotation Bibliography Example


Doerr, John. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs. Penguin. 2018.

This book is written by Doerr, who is the chair of a venture capitalist group. The book describes how a business organization can use OKRs to drive a company’s focus through agility, which leads to explosive growth. These are first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies narrated by leaders like Bill Gates. This book helps guide understanding of the business management strategies that drive the success of large companies.

Evaluation Annotations


Your annotations might stop at summarizing, or you could take it a step further by evaluating the source. To do this, you want to compare and contrast it. Why did this one make the cut? Explain the overarching goal of the source and why it fits into your paper so well. Additionally, you want to look at the reliability of the information and any bias it might have. Dig deep into your source like in this example.

Evaluation Annotation Bibliography Example


Wilson, John Philip. When the Texans Come: Missing Records from the Civil War in the Southwest. UNM Press, 2001.

Through primary resources like original letters, song lyrics, and casualty lists, the author, a historian-archeologist, provides a fresh narrative of the Civil War. The author dissects primary sources like witness testimony and original newspaper accounts to clearly understand the battles fought within the Civil War. It not only takes you through the major battles but the minor ones happening in the west to provide you a clear picture of the war. While it’s interesting to see the war through fresh eyes, it lacks in some areas due to its overarching look at the entirety of the war.


 

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