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Citing Sources: Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of sources. An annotated bibliography is one where each item in the bibliography contains one or more of the following.

  • A summary of what the item is about. What is the point of the source? What are the main arguments? What topics are covered?
  • An evaluation of the item. It is a useful source? Is the information reliable? What are the author's credentials? Is the article biased or objective? What is the purpose of this source?
  • A reflection of how the item fits in with your research. Was the source helpful to you? How does it help shape your argument? Has it changed your opinion of the topic?

An annotated bibliography can contain some of the above elements, all of them, or even other elements. If you are preparing an annotated bibliography for a class your instructor should provide you with specific guidelines.


Annotations for each source are written in paragraph form.  The length can vary depending on their purpose.  They should be placed immediately below the citation they refer to.  In APA, MLA and Chicago styles they should also be indented.


For more information, see the following links:

APA Style sample annotated bibliography entry

Summary annotation for an online journal article

Hilton, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education, 31(1), 77-92. doi:10.1080/01587911003725030
This article focuses on the topic of extending the classroom and its ideas to the rest of the world. It introduces the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement, which strives to extend course materials to students and learners outside of the classroom. The authors review the methods and procedures for this movement while encouraging open education. Key concepts and ideas are summarized with charts, statistics, and student discussion questions.


For more information on APA style, see:

MLA Style sample annotated bibliography entry

Evaluative annotation for a print journal article

Kreie, Jennifer and Timothy Paul Cronan. "Making Ethical Decisions." Communications of the ACM, vol. 43, no. 12, Dec. 2000, pp. 66-71. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1145/355112.355126.
The authors, professors of computer systems, present findings of a study of 300 college students to support their theory that businesses who promote a strong ethical code of conduct can influence employee behavior in certain situations. The paper builds on an earlier study conducted by the authors. While the results of the study appear valid the survey is limited in its scope to a small population. A comparison of a similar survey conducted in a work place would be a valuable addition to this study. While the authors' conclusion that people rely on their personal values when making ethical decisions is perhaps stating the obvious, this article provides a good starting point for additional research on the topic.


For more information on MLA style, see:

Chicago / Turabian sample annotated bibliography entry

Evaluative annotation for a book

Storti, Craig. Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Differences. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1994.
Storti gives examples of intercultural miscommunication for the reader to think about, and then offers an "answer key" that explains the underlying cultural dimensions at work in each of the situations. The dialogues are short, yet they lead the reader to a better understanding of what cultural misunderstandings look and feel like. Each dialogue takes place between an American and someone from another culture, such as the Middle East, Britain, China, France, Germany, Spain, India, Japan, the Mediterranean, and Russia. Storti also frames the dialogues in different settings, either social, workplace, or business. The usefulness of this book lies in its concrete examples of cross-cultural communication, examples that illustrate differences in communication needs, meanings, and styles that result from individuals approaching communication with different cultural dimensions.


For more information on Chicago/Turabian style, see: