What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

Annotated bibliography as a term comprises of two separate notions: annotation and bibliography. To understand the term as a whole, it is important to understand what its components mean.

Annotation is a kind of summary of a book, article, etc. It helps the readers understand what the whole paper will tell about and make him choose whether to read it or not. Moreover, the reader will see if the material used in the paper will be useful and interesting for him.

Many students ask themselves: “How to write an annotated bibliography?” and “How does it differ from a simple abstract?” An abstract makes a summary of some book, article or website that is descriptive in its nature. At the same time, annotation does not only describe the publication, it outlines its distinctive features, as well. There are different types of annotations as you will see below.

How to Make an Annotated Bibliography?

In its nature, annotated bibliographies are lists of sources organized in a specific order. The only difference between them and a typical reference list is that each source in annotated bibliographies is followed by a description: an annotation of a size depending on its purpose.

The purposes of annotation may be different, including:

  • Assistance in formulating a thesis;

  • Provision of a literature review for a specific subject;

  • Providing a short outline of the research performed on a chosen subject;

  • Representation of the major sources available on a specific topic;

  • Description of articles, books or other publications that may be interesting for the other researchers.

Annotated Bibliographies Types

Except annotated bibliography definition, it may also be useful to know its main types that are:

  1. Descriptive (informative)

  2. Analytical (critical)

The first type sums up the information regarding a source just like the abstract. It explains why the source is used and its importance for the research of a particular question or topic. Besides, it describes the main arguments of the author and his conclusions. Evaluation of the information provided in annotation is not necessary in this type of annotated bibliographies.  

The second type of annotated bibliography differs from the first one by the fact that it not only summarizes but also analyzes what was written. It outlines the weak and strong points of the represented arguments and provides information on the applicability of the information provided by the author to the research.

If the answer: “What is an annotated bibliography?” is still not clear to you, read the information below.

How to Write Annotated Bibliographies?

Annotated bibliography format is quite clear for people who have experience in writing it. Anyway, if you find it difficult to start your own writing, read the following tips:

  • Look for sources. Before writing your bibliography choose the reliable sources that may serve as a strong basis for the paper you write. It requires a thorough research work and selecting the materials that can be applied to your paper topic.

  • Study the actual items that may provide perspectives on the topic of your paper.

  •  Every annotation should follow a citation. It means that you have to write citation first and then provide an annotation to it. Depending on their types, the annotated bibliographies may include:

    • Work purpose;

    • Short summary of the paper;

    • Data about the writer of the source;

    • Explanation on how the material used is relevant to the paper topic;

    • Methodology of research;

    • Strong and weak points of the material.

The sources in annotated bibliographies may be organized chronologically or alphabetically, depending on the instructions provided or your personal preferences.

Annotated bibliography writing may be a pleasant task if you follow the above-provided instructions and if you are ready to spend time doing thorough research on your topic.