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How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography –
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Cornell / LibGuides / How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography / The Annotated
Bibliography
How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography
The Annotated Bibliography
Fair Use of this Guide
Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples
What Is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents.
Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and
evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform
the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
Annotations vs. Abstracts
Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of
scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and
critical; they may describe the author’s point of view, authority, or clarity and
appropriateness of expression.
The Process
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of
intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library
research.
First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may
contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review
the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives
on your topic.
Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the
book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or
background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or
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background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or
contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work
illuminates your bibliography topic.
Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document
For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your
bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources. For information
on the author’s background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding
appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.
Choosing the Correct Citation Style
Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class.
Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the
American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library’s
Citation Management page.
Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries
The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2010) for the journal citation:
Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University,
use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and
Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults
alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away
from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly
supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of
young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying
increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about
families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no
significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily
living.
This example uses MLA style (MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016) for the journal citation:
Waite, Linda J., et al. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional
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Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University,
use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and
Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults
alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away
from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly
supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of
young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying
increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about
families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no
significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily
living.
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