Annotated Bibliography: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Annotated Bibliography
  • 0:30 Purpose
  • 0:56 Information to Include
  • 1:59 Examples
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Learn what annotated bibliographies are and how they're used in the research process. In this lesson, we'll discuss what it means to annotate and what to include in annotated bibliographies for research essays and projects.

Annotated Bibliography

Chances are you've seen a bibliography before; it's the list of sources that appears at the end of research essays and books. Annotations are notes and marks you make in a text while you're actively reading. Highlighting, underlining, writing in the margins or taking notes are all ways of annotating. When you keyboard the notes with correct documentation and formatting styles and submit them for publication, you're creating a formal annotated bibliography.


Annotated bibliographies show your reader or professor what you've used in your research. But annotated bibliographies are also helpful to you, the student, in two ways. First, if you're taking notes while reading, you'll have quotes and examples ready to support your arguments when you're writing your paper; you won't have to go back and dig them out. Second, annotating while reading is a way to form the rough draft of a fully formatted annotated bibliography.

Information to Include

When creating annotations, answer the question: What are the main points of the source? You'll want to explain the author's arguments and mention which topics are covered. Follow up with an evaluation or analysis. Was the article well researched, and does it support your thesis? Or, was it poorly reasoned and not useful to you? Either way, include this information. Even if you don't use a source to support your own thesis and research, it should still be included in the annotated bibliography. Additionally, annotations should be written in your own words.

An annotated bibliography submitted for publication or to a professor should be formatted in American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style, unless the publication or professor specifies otherwise. You'll have to include the author, date of publication, title, publisher and place of publication. Annotations are usually only a paragraph long, though for longer works they may be several paragraphs.


Here's an example of an annotated bibliography entry in APA style (the title used for this example is not an actual book):

Namey, N. (Year of publication). Book About Facebook. Location of publication: Publisher.

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