Put these two definitions together, and you have an annotated bibliography; a list of works (information sources like journal articles, web pages, multimedia, and other source types) where each source is accompanied by "critical explanatory notes or comment." The other crucial element to the annotated bibliography is the addition of a properly formatted citation for each source.
While annotated bibliography assignments will differ in their individual requirements, these following general guidelines may help you analyze your sources to compose complete and insightful annotations.
It cannot be stressed enough that each annotated bibliography assignment may have special rules and guidelines; please review your assignment requirements very carefully or consult with your instructor in order to understand and proceed with your annotated bibliography assignment.
1. Discuss the author's or creator's background and qualifications; such information may be mentioned in your source, or you may have to do a web search using details from the information source as clues as to where to find current, trustworthy information on the author(s) or creator(s).
2. Carefully and concisely summarize the scope and purpose of the source. Normally, this should only take a sentence or two, as the analysis (and possibly reflection) portion(s) will take up a considerable part of the whole annotation.
3. Demonstrate how the source stands out among the others, whether it be negatively or positively; compare the source to other sources within your bibliography in content, value, credentials, etc.
4. Point out any bias that the source and its creator(s) may have on your topic; did they exhibit any preference to a certain side of any issues you will be addressing within the topic?
5. Consider the audience to whom this source is written; whether or not it was written for a particular audience (a general, popular source; or strictly scholars and experts) could make the author(s) leave out material, add more observations or details, and so on.
Adapted from "Help in writing annotations" by the Cal State San Marcos Library
Having correctly formatted citations for each of your sources is half of the content of the annotated bibliography! Should you need more help outside of this research guide, remember to contact us to get help from a librarian any time of the day.
NoodleTools, our research management and citation-generating service, allows students to create citations for information sources and then add annotations to each one. As soon as all sources have been collected and annotated in a project, NoodleTools users can export their sources with their annotations into a number of file formats to quickly create a formatted annotated bibliography in MLA or APA citation style.
The following video will demonstrate how to add annotations to citations created with NoodleTools and then export an annotated bibliography. For more help with getting started with NoodleTools, check out the NoodleTools tutorial page from the Citation Help and Plagiarism Research Guide.