How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

What Is an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to articles, books, documents, and other resources. Writing an annotated bibliography is not an easy task. There are many textbooks and manuals that differ in both depth and relevance for modern science, and style of presentation. In addition, there are many publications that are not formally textbooks, but relevant for a student.


At the same time, the annotated bibliography recommended for students cannot be too large, otherwise it simply loses its meaning, and it will not be perceived as a recommendation, but as a “telephone directory” of names and titles. Real possibilities of a student should also be taken into account.

Not all literature which a professional highly appreciates is accessible to the understanding of a student. The ideas of major scientists at first must be adapted, otherwise you can achieve the opposite result. On the other hand, it would not be right to simply recommend insignificant literature.

The recommended annotated bibliography should outline some perspectives; in this sense, the simplicity of presentation cannot be the only criterion of recommended literature. This list should be compiled in a way to assume the future professional growth of the student. Therefore, any attempt to create an adequate annotated bibliography cannot be completely successful, as there will always be questions about why this is included and others are not. Annotated bibliography truncation and expansion can occur naturally as the student accumulates experience and knowledge.

What are parts of an annotated bibliography?

  • Citation details which are presented according to the format style
  • The goal of the cited paper which is presented briefly
  • Your experience of reading the cited paper
  • Author’s work evaluation
  • Connection of the cited paper with your research.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

How to start an annotated bibliography?

  • Select sources prior to writing an annotated bibliography. It is important not only for a bibliography, but for writing any type of academic paper. Save materials that may be helpful for you.
  • Review everything that you have found and leave only the most relevant ones. Here article abstracts will help you.

How to do an annotated bibliography?

Start writing with a complete citation and then include the annotation. Here you need to write:

  • The goal of the work
  • A brief summary of the content
  • What kind of audience will read this work
  • The relevance to your topic
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the material
  • How to make an annotated bibliography: alphabetically or chronologically? It may be done in one of these ways – you just need to ask your instructor what is more preferable.

How to create an annotated bibliography that will impress? Annotations should include a description of the scientific value of the work, a description of the structure of the publication and form of presentation of the material, and a brief description of the content (focusing on the most important issues). The prepared annotated bibliography is submitted to the teacher for verification in the prescribed form and term.

Structure of an Annotated Bibliography

When determining annotated bibliography topics, it is necessary to proceed from their novelty, relevance, interest of readers, and their correspondence to the profile and capabilities of the library. In the course of studying annotated bibliography topic ideas, it is supposed to determine whether there is enough literature on the topic to thoroughly understand the terminology, the essence of the problem itself.

In the most difficult cases at this stage, it is desirable to involve specialists in this field of knowledge for consulting and methodological assistance. They can predict when the “peak of interest” to the topic will come and the demand for the documents reflected in the manual will increase. Do not be afraid to turn to librarians; remember that the success of all further work depends on the depth of study into the topic. The structure is as follows:

  • Annotated bibliography introduction. A bibliographic description can serve as an introduction of the annotated bibliography. A bibliographic description is a part of an annotated bibliography, a set of bibliographic information about a document, given according to certain rules, establishing the sequence order of areas and elements and intended for its identification and general characteristics.
  • The information relating to the title. The information relating to the title contains information explaining the main title, information about the type, genre, purpose of the work, the availability of translation from another language, etc.
  • The information about responsibility. This contains information about individuals and organizations involved in the creation of intellectual or other content of the work that is the object of the description.
  • The information about publication. This is information about responsibility related to additional edition information.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step by Step

Search for information. A bibliographic search is an information search (selection of bibliographic documents) for the purpose of their subsequent bibliographic processing (recording), carried out on the basis of bibliographic data. In the bibliography there are three main objectives of information search.

The first objective is the search for necessary information about the source and the establishment of its presence in the system of other sources. It is conducted by searching for bibliographic information and bibliographic manuals (informational publications), specially created for more efficient search and use of information (literature, books).

The second objective is the search for information sources themselves (documents and publications) that contain or may contain the necessary information. The third is the search for factual information contained in literature, such as a book, for example, on historical facts and events, on technical characteristics of machines and processes, on the properties of substances and materials, on biographical data from the life and work of a writer, scientist, etc.

Bibliographic search methods:

  • The complete method. In the complete method, a bibliographer, for the accomplishment of an assigned task, examines completely and without gaps all the available manuals and sources.
  • The selective method. A more rational and real way of searching for literature is the selective method. In literature, it is also often called the “episodic method.”
  • The intuitive method. This is an approach to finding the necessary sources based on the assumption of basic knowledge, taking into account concretization by any type (author of works, genre, publishing house).
  • The typological (prescription) method. In any case, the typological (prescription) method reflects in itself and introduces in the process of the informational search a certain rational beginning, of a planned character. At the same time, it shows the importance of the starting point of this complex process. It can be chosen on the basis of intuition, and on the basis of conscious, purposeful thinking, a working hypothesis, or a recipe.
  • The inductive method. The general conclusion about the availability of the sought-after sources (factual information) on the issue of interest in this case is made on the basis of a study of all individual sources.
  • The deductive method. The opposite of the inductive method is done on the basis of specific single sources.
  • By bibliographic references. This concerns searching sources from already existing bibliographic databases.
  • By going from the abstract to the concrete.

Write a bibliographic description. A bibliographic description is a bibliographic model of the document, designed in the form of a system of interrelated elements with the previous identification punctuation. The main purpose of the bibliographic description is to identify the publication in the system of others.

These are the following types of bibliographic description:

  • Monographic – involves the description of a single document.
  • Summary – a description of a multi-volume or serial document.
  • Analytical – this is the description for any part of the document.
  • Brief – a description of only the mandatory elements of a specific document.
  • Advanced – here there is a description of the required elements, as well as one or more optional elements.
  • Complete – description of the required element and all possible optional elements.
  • Consolidated – a description that is performed with various publications of the same document: reprints, translations, and or other documents related to it – reviews, essays, etc.
  • A bibliographic reference is a bibliographic description of a cited, considered, or referred document work.

Include information about the type, genre, and purpose of the work, the information about individuals and organizations involved in the creation of content of the work that is the object of the description, and information about responsibility.

Annotated Bibliography Template

  • MLA annotation

Smith, Valerie. The Great Depression in the United States. Economist, 2002.

Smith’s book presents a comparative analysis of economic crises: the 1930s in the United States. She talks about features of crises in the country. The author also mentions dynamics of GDP, GNP, and prices. The book presents a reproduction of the population in times of crisis.

  • APA annotation

Beсket, N. (2007). Cyclical development of the world economy and financial crises. New York, NY: Finance and Credit.

This book talks about the theory of economic cycles and the current financial and economic situation in the world.

  • Chicago Manual annotation

Smith, Hilda Ellis. Features of Economic and Financial Crises in the Process of World Integration. London: Routledge, 2009.

Based on the analysis of several major financial crises of the last twenty years, the article concludes that the basis of crises lie in the miscalculations of monetary authorities in the art of advanced regulation, and their inadequate ability to pursue responsible macroeconomic policies. In conclusion, there are several indicators of the state of the financial market, according to the level of which you can try to assess the degree of a crisis threat for a particular national financial market.

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