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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of all the books, articles, or other documents that you’ve used for your research. The difference between an annotated bibliography and a simple bibliography is that an annotated bibliography informs the readers about the relevance of the sources cited in the research.

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These brief evaluations and descriptions of these citations are usually around 150 words long. You must know that a bibliography is one of the most important parts of a research paper, so you have to make sure that everything is in place when you make it. This article will help you create an annotated bibliography.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

The annotations within an annotated bibliography point out all of the strengths and weaknesses of the sources that you’ve cited, as well as their relevance to your research work. So if you want to learn how to write a properly annotated bibliography, then follow the steps below to help you out.

When writing annotations for your sources:

  • If you’re making one for a project or research topic, then you’re going to have to determine the information you need. Some annotated bibliographies are meant to summarize the information from the sources that you have gathered. Others will make you evaluate the main points of these sources of information. So when you’re making your research plan, you must know the needs of your research work so that you know what sources you can cite.
  • After knowing the needs of your research, you’re going to have to summarize each source. You have to identify the main point of the topic and see how it’s being approached. You’ll need to know things such as what does it want the reader to learn or what is the source arguing about. So when making a summary just think how you would describe it to someone if you were being asked about it. The length of these summaries will depend on the needs of your research, so make sure to ask your professor.
  • In the event that you’re also required to evaluate the sources in your annotations, then what you’re going to have to do is find their strengths and weaknesses. This is very similar to evaluation reports in offices wherein you have to see what’s good about something, what’s not, and if it’s overall useful. You need to consider things such as if the source is useful to you or to others who might want to use it; if the source is obsolete in terms of information; if the source shows any form of bias; and if the source is reliable enough for you to use.
  • Since your research will have at least more than two sources, you’re going to have to describe how these sources compare to each other. You should evaluate if any of the sources are better than the other in any way; the important differences between them; or if these sources overlap in any way in terms of content or even argument.
  • Think carefully about how these sources fit into your research. The important question that you should ask yourself is: How is this source going to be used in my research? Question all your sources to see if it allows you to draw all the facts that you need, if its findings support your own, if its methods are ones you can borrow, or if you agree or disagree with whatever point it’s trying to make.

For choosing your citations and organizing them:

  • You have to make sure that you’re choosing sources that can give you information that’s reliable and of high quality. No matter how many sources you’re citing, you have to make sure that all of them are of top quality. This will result in your professors or your teachers being impressed with your work. So what you have to do is look for those sources that have been published in academic journals by authors who are established and reputable in their fields.
  • Make sure that you’re able to provide all of the full citations for all the sources you’re using. You have to make sure that you provide the basic bibliography information for each of these sources. So that would be the author’s name, the title, publication date, and more. The style of annotation you should use (such as bibliography APA or MLC annotation bibliography format) will depend entirely on your project so make sure that you ask your professor to clarify things.
  • In most cases, you’re going to want to format your bibliography in a series of entries. At the start of each entry, you’ll have to give the full citation of the work. After which, you’re going to have to summarize the information and evaluate the source in paragraph form. In most cases, these should be at least one paragraph long, but there will be cases wherein they’re required to be even longer. If you’re not sure, then ask so that you won’t have to redo your annotated bibliography.
  • Once that’s all done, you’re going to have to organize all of your entries. Usually, these entries would be arranged alphabetically so that they’re based on the author’s last names. There are also cases wherein you can arrange the entries chronologically, arrange  them via their subtopics, or arrange them based on their different formats (books, web pages, and articles). Just make sure that you choose an organizational style that your professor accepts, otherwise you’ll find yourself having to rearrange all your entries all over again.

The point of a bibliography is to show these authors the respect that they deserve by pointing out that their work is what leads you to be able to do yours. So if you would like to learn more about making bibliographies, then you may search any of our available samples to help you find the tips you need to write a bibliography or to help you make one you can use.

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