How to Set Up an Annotated Bibliography

by Michele Cooper, Demand Media

An annotated bibliography lists the citations used in a paper followed by an annotation. The annotation is usually a brief description of the source, a note on the quality of the source and its relevance to the paper. Annotated bibliographies allow the reader to consider the research done by the writer, and give the writer a chance to evaluate the sources he used in his research. Annotated Bibliographies typically come at the end of a paper and take the place of a reference page.

Make a List

Make a list of the sources found during your research for your topic. Consult books, website, periodicals and journals, and vary your sources, as you want a well-rounded bibliography. Write down the name of the author, date, and type of publication, publisher and page numbers, if applicable. Include exactly where you found the source, including Web address if applicable, so you can get back to your source.

Format the Citation

Create a citation for each source that you decide to use in your paper and make notes on relative information that may be useful. Consult the assignment and type of paper you are writing and decide on a format for your citations, which are typically written out in APA, MLA or Chicago format. Consult a format guide to ensure that you correctly write out your citations (see Resources).

Write a Description

Write an annotation of each source that concentrates on the central theme and ideas of the piece. Include one or more sentences and describe the background and authority of the author and how the research supports your main topic. Analyze the work and comment on the effectiveness of the piece as it relates to your research. Depending on your project, you may either choose to simply summarize or include a critique. Consult similar papers and annotated bibliographies to get an idea of what should be included.

Put Together the Bibliography

Move your citations to your bibliography and alphabetize them by the last names of the authors. Format your paper with appropriate margins and spacing according to MLA, APA or Chicago style instructions. Place the annotation under each appropriate citation. Make sure your annotations are in paragraph form and that the length of each coincides with the assignment and depth of the paper.

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About the Author

Michele Cooper has been freelance editing and proofreading since 2006. She has published poetry in the literary journal "Night Roses." Cooper currently teaches writing courses at the community college level and brings her expertise in communication to all of her writing. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Hunter College and a master's degree in teaching/education from State University New York at New Paltz.

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