Annotated Bibliography Guide: Sample Annotated Bibliographies

  • Definition and Formats
  • Elements of Annotation
  • Sample Annotated Bibliographies

Sample Bibliographies


The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation. NOTE: APA requires double spacing within citations.

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 the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.

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Annotated Bibliography Samples

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.

Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.

Sample MLA Annotation

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.

In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.

For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 9th Edition (2021) Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess . London: Routledge, 1998.

Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.

This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.

For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.

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Annotated Bibliographies

  • Definition and Purpose
  • How to Make Annotated Bibliographies

Example Annotated Bibliography

  •  Each reference in your bibliography follows the rules for your citation style, such as APA style.
  •  Your notes for each reference come immediately after your reference. Your notes are indented so that each citation is easy to find.
  •  The references in your bibliography appear in the same order they would in the reference list at the end of your paper. In APA style, that means that they are listed in alphabetical order by the first author’s last name.
  •  Explain why each reference is useful for your paper.
  •  Include specific data, facts, or other unique information you want to use in your paper.
  •  Include limitations of each source.
  •  You might notice some themes in what you are writing. Or, you might notice that different sources conflict. These themes and conflicts will be useful for organizing your literature review when you write your paper.

This study shows the complexity of identifying risk factors and, unlike other studies, closely examines the roles of obesity and birth weight. In this large cohort study of people in Britain, the researchers examined the roles of several demographic factors as well as a few different measures of weight and BMI changes. This study did not see a link between low birth weight and the risk of developing diabetes unless changes in BMI were also taken into account. The interplay between low birth weight and changes in BMI over time was a significant risk factor for developing diabetes. Other notable findings were that it mattered when people became obese; people who became obese as teenagers were at higher risk than people who became obese later in life. The study had several important limitations to note. First, the number of participants dropped drastically over time; they had an 82.4% drop-out rate over the 50 years of the study. Although they used statistical methods to estimate missing data and were careful to compare like timespans with like timespans, this lack of data could skew the results. The second major limitation is that the authors did not distinguish between different types of diabetes. Other limitations were more minor. Based on what the authors share about how they calculated another factor, which did not end up being significant, it is unclear if only people with married mothers were included in the study. The authors used the changes in BMI between the different data collection periods to estimate the average age of onset, but the data collection points were not evenly spaced and the authors did not explain why they collected data at those points in time instead of others. Again, that information could skew the data. In spite of its limitations, this article shows how no one factor alone can predict if a person will develop diabetes. It can be a caution in assigning too much importance to specific measures.

Ivarsdottir, E. V., Steinthorsdottir, V., Daneshpour, M. S., Thorleifsson, G., Sulem, P., Holm, H., Sigurdsson, S., Hreidarsson, A. B., Siggurdson, G., Bjarnason, R., Thorsson, A. V., Benediktsson, R., Eyjolfsson, G., Sigurdardottir, O., Zeinali, S., Azizi, F., Thorsteinsdottier, U., Gudbjartsson, D. F., & Stefansson, K. (2017). Effect of sequence variants on variance in glucose levels predicts type 2 diabetes risk and accounts for heritability. Nature Genetics , 49 (9), 1398-1402.

In this study, the authors investigated the relationship between genetic variants that are known to affect blood glucose levels to see if they were also associated with type 2 diabetes. In addition to looking for differences between specific people, the authors also accounted for differences between samples taken from a single individual. The real value of this article is in the supplementary materials the authors shared. The authors included a copy of the code they used to calculate the differences between all of their samples. It can be modified to be used with other genetic traits. In addition, the authors also linked out to a set of open access genetic data sets for type 2 diabetes research. Both sets of information make this article super useful for additional genetic research.

Min, D., & Cho, E. (2018). Associations among health behaviors, body mass index, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus: A path analysis. Medicine , 97 (22), Article e10981.

Using existing data from a study of aging in Korea, this study identified specific risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes for people who have lower-than-normal weight levels or higher-than-normal weight levels. They looked at correlations between several dietary behaviors, exercise, demographic factors, and changes in body-mass index (BMI). Overall, they found a 2.4% incidence rate for diabetes in their study population, which consisted of middle-aged and older people in Korea who had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes. Regardless of weight, increases in a person’s BMI correlated with higher risk of developing diabetes. For people who were underweight, eating regular meals played a complex role; it was associated with a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, but also with increasing the person’s BMI. The study is helpful because it shows the complexity of identifying risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes and deciding what factors might be appropriate targets for public health programs. Rather than focusing on a single potential risk factor, this study looked at the interplay between several possible risk factors, which means the results reflect reality more closely. The study is limited in that the number of people studied was relatively small (a few thousand) and only a small portion of that group were underweight (about 130 people.) It is unclear if the results would hold for the larger population or for a different population.

Muller, N., Heller, T., Freitag, M. H., Gerste, B., Haupt, C. M., Wolf, G., & Muller, U. A. (2015). Healthcare utilization of people with type 2 diabetes in Germany: An analysis based on health insurance data. Diabetic Medicine , 32 (7), 951-957.

This study demonstrates the high costs associated with having type 2 diabetes for both the individual and for insurance companies. It helps establish the argument that diabetes should be a public health priority and a priority for policy-makers and insurance companies. In addition, this study clearly showed that age correlates with both diabetes incidence and prevalence. This study looked at health-care related costs in insurance data for people in Germany who used the most common German insurance provider at the time. Based on that data, the researchers found that nearly 34% of people who had type 2 diabetes had secondary diabetes-related conditions. In addition, people with type 2 diabetes were more likely to use healthcare services on both outpatient and in-patient bases. People with type 2 diabetes were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital and, when taking both outpatient and inpatient information into account, stayed at the hospital three times as long as people without any form of diabetes. (The researchers had excluded people with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes from their sample.) The researchers did not include standard deviations or confidence intervals; the data may not be fully representative. The data used in this study was collected in 2010; newer data might show different trends. The study’s findings may not be generalizable to other areas of the world due to differences in diabetes’ prevalence and incidence, the health care structures in place, and environmental factors. It still indicates that diabetes can be an expensive disease. In spite of some limitations, the information in this article suggests that targeting diabetes could have wide benefits.

Wang, T., Huang, T., Li, Y., Zheng, Y., Manson, J. E., Hu, F. B., & Qi, L. (2016). Low birthweight and risk of type 2 diabetes: A Mendelian randomisation study. Diabetologia , 59 (9), 1920-1927.

In this meta-analysis, the researchers pooled longitudinal data about two studies of healthcare workers in the United States to evaluate the connection between genetic differences and risk of developing diabetes. Building on a study that showed certain genetic variants increased the likelihood that a person would have a low birth weight, this study examined participant’s genetic make-up to determine their likelihood of having a low birth weight and then investigated how many people with each variation had diabetes at the end of the study. Overall, these calculated risk factors did correlate with increased risk of developing diabetes; having a higher risk factor increased the chances that the person would develop diabetes. However, only two of the five variants the authors considered correlated with increased risk of developing diabetes and they did not include the variant that had the strongest correlation to having a low birth weight. Even when taking into account other behavioral and demographic factors, genetic makeup was a significant risk factor for diabetes. This reinforces the idea that diabetes has several interacting causes. That said, the authors were only looking at people in the U.S. with European heritage; different populations might have different results. This study is important because it shows that social and behavioral factors are not the sole causes for diabetes; traditional public health programs cannot completely eliminate diabetes. In addition, the study’s results might explain some of why people with similar outward appearances or behaviors have different outcomes.

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What is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.

Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles.  The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.

Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:

  •     Main focus or purpose of the work
  •     Usefulness or relevance to your research topic 
  •     Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
  •     Background and credibility of the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by you

Annotations versus Abstracts

Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article to help you decide whether you should read the entire article.  This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation.  The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

Annotated Bibliography video

MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Ontiveros, Randy J.  In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014.

This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel  Caramelo  in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.

Journal article

Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.”  The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268.  ScienceDirect , .

Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns.  This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.

*Note, citations have a .5 hanging indent and the annotations have a 1 inch indent. 

  • MLA 9th Sample Annotated Bibliography

MLA 8th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement . New York UP, 2014. This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.

Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The Benefits of Writing and Performing in the Spoken Word Poetry Community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy , vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect , doi:10.1016/j.aip.2014.03.004 . Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns.  This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.

  • MLA 8th Sample Annotated Bibliography

APA 7th Annotated Bibliography Examples

Alvarez, N. & Mearns, J. (2014). The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community.  The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41 (3), 263-268. Prior research has shown narrative writing to help with making meaning out of trauma. This article uses grounded theory to analyze semi-structured interviews with ten spoken word poets.  Because spoken word poetry is performed live, it creates personal and community connections that enhance the emotional development and resolution offered by the practice of writing. The findings are limited by the small, nonrandom sample (all the participants were from the same community).

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American Psychological Association (APA) Annotations

Creating an annotated bibliography in APA style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  7th edition (APA Manual) is kept behind the iDesk on the First Floor.

This example is based on the APA style guide, but your instructor might give you other formatting instructions . 

General guidelines

Some annotations are merely descriptive , summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. 

Many annotations evaluate the quality of scholarship in a book or article.  You might want to consider the logic of authors' arguments, and the quality of their evidence.  Your findings can be positive, negative, or mixed.

Your professor might also want you to explain why the source is relevant to your assignment. 

Sample Page: APA-formatted annotated bibliography

Rules! rules! rules!

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) states the following formatting rules:

  • The text and the reference list should be double-spaced.
  • Numbering starts on the title page, at the top right of the page.
  • Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
  • There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
  • Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
  • Each paragraph should be indented.

More Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library offers these instructions on preparing an annotated bibliography.

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Annotated Bibliography Examples & Step-by-Step Writing Guide

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An annotated bibliography is a unique form of bibliography providing a short summary or analysis of sources. While creating an annotated bibliography shouldn’t be stressful, many students might find the process hard. Keep it simple by using this step-by-step annotated bibliography guide for perfect annotations in any style.

Table of Contents

  • What Is an Annotated Bibliography
  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography Examples

  • Use an Annotated Bibliography Generator
  • Abstract vs. Annotations vs. Literature Review

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

So, the big question in everyone’s minds is, what is an annotated bibliography? An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a brief summary or analysis of your sources, aka annotations. The annotation gives information about the relevance and quality of the sources you cited through a 150-250 word description or interpretation of the source.

Why Write Annotations?

One of the main questions students have is what the purpose of an annotation is. Surprise, it’s not just for your teacher. Annotations help you, too. Many times, you create your reference list as you begin researching your topic. Since you summarize the source in an annotated bibliography, you start to delve into the topic more critically to collect the information for your annotations. This helps you better understand the subject and sources to help you create your thesis .

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step-by-Step

The creation of an annotated bibliography is a three-step process. It starts with evaluating sources to find the ones that will genuinely make your paper shine. You’ll then begin writing your annotation for each different source. The final step is to choose your citation style. Now that you know the three-step process, let’s check out each step in turn.

Step 1: Analysis of Sources

When it comes to an annotated bibliography, you have to critically look at your topic’s sources and research. Therefore, you need to look at the author’s qualifications and credentials, along with the date of the study itself. Since new thoughts and literary movements are happening all the time, you want to make sure the analysis and opinions you use are relevant to your topic and current times.

In addition to the author, make sure the publisher or journal where you found the research is distinguished and reviewed by professionals in the field. Research by an unknown or unreputable journal will not make a good source for your arguments or analysis. Other areas you’ll want to be aware of include:

  • The intended audience
  • Omissions of facts
  • Opinions presented as truths

Critically analyzing all these different areas helps you evaluate if a source is credible , helpful to your project or research, and works to answer your thesis.

reliable sources for research CRAAP

Step 2: Create Your Annotations

Now that you’ve used your critical academic eye to dive deep into your sources, it’s time to create annotations for them. Annotations aren’t one size fits all. Therefore, there are different ways you can create them, depending on your intent. You might choose to use descriptive, summary, or evaluation in your annotations or a combination of all three. Just remember to always include what your instructor asks for.

Indicative/Descriptive Annotations

Descriptive or indicative annotations do just what they say. They describe the source. Indicative annotations give you a quick summary of the source and argument and describe the main points and even chapters within the source. See how this indicative annotation example in MLA works.

Zachs, Mitch. The Little Book of Stock Market Profits . John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

This book covers a wide variety of strategies used in the stock market throughout the years to improve performance. Insightful chapters within the text include “Understanding the Markets,” “Using Profits to Achieve Your Elusive Goals,” and “The Challenge of Investing.”

Informative/Summary Annotations

Summary annotations simply provide a summary of your different sources. Within them, you describe the main arguments or points along with the various topics covered. This is where you show why this source was essential and made it to your list. See an example of informative annotations at play.

Doerr, John. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs . Penguin. 2018.

This book is written by Doerr, who is the chair of a venture capitalist group. The book describes how a business organization can use OKRs to drive a company’s focus through agility, which leads to explosive growth. These are first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies narrated by leaders like Bill Gates. This book helps guide understanding of the business management strategies that drive the success of large companies.

Evaluation Annotations

Your annotations might stop at summarizing, or you could take it a step further by evaluating the source. To do this, you want to compare and contrast it. Why did this one make the cut? Explain the overarching goal of the source and why it fits into your paper so well. Additionally, you want to look at the reliability of the information and any bias it might have. Dig deep into your source like in this example.

Wilson, John Philip. When the Texans Come: Missing Records from the Civil War in the Southwest. UNM Press, 2001.

Through primary resources like original letters, song lyrics, and casualty lists, the author, a historian-archeologist, provides a fresh narrative of the Civil War. The author dissects primary sources like witness testimony and original newspaper accounts to clearly understand the battles fought within the Civil War. It not only takes you through the major battles but the minor ones happening in the west to provide you a clear picture of the war. While it’s interesting to see the war through fresh eyes, it lacks in some areas due to its overarching look at the entirety of the war.

Combination Annotations

Annotations don’t have to just follow one specific format. You can combine all three types of annotations into your annotated bibliography. For example, you might spend a few lines describing and summarizing the work and end with an evaluation.

annotated bibliography in MLA

Writing Style for Annotations

Just like there are different types of annotations you can create, you can also use different writing styles. Annotations typically follow three specific formats depending on how long they are.

  • Phrases – Short phrases providing the information in a quick, concise manner.
  • Sentences – Write out complete sentences with proper punctuation and grammar. Be sure to keep sentences short and concise.
  • Paragraphs – Longer annotations also break the information out into different paragraphs. This can be very effective for combination annotations.

Step 3: Annotated Bibliography Format

All annotated bibliographies have a title, annotation, and citation. While the annotation is the same for all, the way you create your title and citation varies based on your style. The three main bibliography styles used include MLA, APA, and Chicago.

Get examples of an annotated bibliography in each different style. Find a quick overview of when to use APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.

APA Example

An APA annotated bibliography is used for science and technical papers. It includes an APA citation and APA formatting for headers and title.

example annotated bibliography APA

MLA Example

An MLA annotated bibliography is the go-to style of high school and college students for language arts and humanities papers. This style uses MLA style citations and formatting like the surname and page number header.

example annotated bibliography MLA

Chicago Example

Chicago style annotated bibliographies are a catch-all type of style with author-date and notes-bibliography citations. The citation used in Chicago style can vary by style, but the annotation remains the same.

example annotated bibliography chicago format

How to Use an Annotated Bibliography Generator

When it comes to creating your annotated bibliography, you can use the annotated bibliography generator at to make things easier. Get a step-by-step overview on how to create an annotated bibliography using

annotated bibliography

Creating your annotated bibliography through’s annotation generator is as simple as that.

Difference Between Abstract, Annotation, and Literature Review

The difference between an abstract, literature review, and annotated bibliography can get a bit fuzzy, especially if you are new to the academic writing game. You know an annotation is a brief synopsis of your source. Explore how that differs from an abstract and a literature review.

What Is a Literature Review?

Like an annotated bibliography, literature reviews can be full papers, in their own right, or they can be incorporated into a school paper. Their purpose is to review and tie together previously published research to bolster a writer’s own thesis. The literature review also suggests ways to move the research forward or identifies gaps in the existing literature. Preparing a literature review helps students learn how to find and critically evaluate sources.

Purpose of an Abstract

The difference between an abstract and an annotated bibliography is abstracts are included as part of research papers. Their purpose is to inform an interested researcher about the topic, problem, methodology, findings, and conclusion of the research. This abstract helps students understand whether this source is a good one for their own school paper.

An abstract is written as a summary rather than to serve an evaluative purpose. No added material, such as explanations or further reading, are included in abstracts—usually, an abstract runs between 150 to 250 words. If you’re using APA style to format your research paper, you may need to include an abstract on the page following the title page.

Now that you know the difference between an abstract, annotated bibliography, and literature review, you have all the skills needed to create a perfect annotated bibliography.

Citation generator

Creating an Annotated Bibliography

Creating an annotated bibliography takes more work, but it can make you a better researcher. Just follow the steps for creating annotations and citations per your professor, and you’re ready for that A. Interested in learning more about research papers? Why not check out how to insert citations in Word quickly .

FAQ Annotated Bibliography Writing Guide With Examples

How do you write an annotated bibliography.

To write an annotated bibliography, you need to evaluate your source then write a summary, evaluation, or reflection of the source. Once your annotation is complete, you will create a citation for the source using the rules for APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

What are the 3 parts of an annotated bibliography?

The three different parts of an annotated bibliography include the title, annotation, and citation. The title and citation format will vary based on the style you use. The annotation can include a summary, evaluation, or reflection.

How long is an annotated bibliography?

The length of an annotated bibliography can vary from about 150-250 words. However, some annotations can be shorter for the Chicago style.

What should an annotated bibliography look like?

The look of an annotated bibliography includes a title, citations, and annotation. Each source has a citation and annotation throughout the entire annotated bibliography to provide an overview of the relevance of your sources for your teacher.

What are 3 types of annotations?

The 3 types of annotation include descriptive, summary, and evaluation. You can choose to use one of these or all three in your annotations for your bibliography.

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Creating an Annotated Bibliography in APA Style


A bibliography is a list of source material, cited in whatever citation style you're required to use in a specific course.

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.

Put the two together and you have an Annotated Bibliography !

An annotated bibliography is an organizational tool . an annotated bibliography....

  • Is an alphabetical list of all of your source material
  • Includes sources you may or may not use in your research
  • Summarizes each resource so you can remember what it's about
  • Can include any type of resource unless specified in the assignment instructions (For an overview of the types of resources you can find through our library, view our description of resource types on our Evaluating Sources guide .)

Why must you do an Annotated Bibliography?

  • If you're utilizing print resources through the library, you may not be able to renew items. How will you remember what the resource was about if you have to send it back?
  • If you're utilizing electronic resources, nothing online is permanent. How will you find the resource again if it disappears?
  • In larger projects, every resource starts to look the same. An Annotated Bibliography can save you time by reminding you of what you've already found.

What types of resources are used?

An Annotated Bibliography can include any type of resource unless otherwise specified by the assignment. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • Scholarly materials
  • Government documents

Annotated Bibliographies can be a great resource for students before they write other types of assignments, like literature reviews . 

There are TWO PARTS to each entry in an Annotated Bibliography. They are:

  • The citation of the resource , in whatever citation style you're required to use.
  • The annotation describing the contents of the resource and how it may or may not contribute to your research.

Be sure to carefully read over the assignment instructions when you're asked to compose an Annotated Bibliography, and reach out to your professor with any questions!

Citation Help

Consult your course style guide to confirm the accuracy of your citation. 

You can also...

  • View our guide for  APA Style Help .
  • Consult resources like Academic Writer  or  Grammarly .

Skimming Sources

Focus on key areas of a text to learn enough so that you can write a strong annotation. This includes:

  • Abstracts, prefaces, and summaries
  • Paragraph headings
  • Charts/graphs/images and their captions
  • Introduction paragraph(s)
  • Conclusion paragraph(s)
  • Sources/References/Bibliography

These areas will provide you with enough information to determine the topic, arguments, and conclusions drawn from any research presented.

Writing Annotations

A strong annotation will have three main parts:

Length requirements can vary from a few sentences to a single paragraph or a full page. Be sure to verify length requirements with your professor and/or through the assignment instructions.

When writing the summary, ask yourself:

  • What topics are covered in the resource?
  • What are the main arguments?
  • What are the main conclusions drawn from the resource?

When writing the assessment, ask yourself:

  • Is the source useful?
  • How does it compare to your other resources?
  • Is there bias present?
  • Is the source reliable?

Our guide for Evaluating Your Sources can help you assess your research material.

When writing the reflection, ask yourself:

  • How does the source fit into your research?
  • How might the source support your argument?
  • Did the source change your mind about the topic?

Sample APA Style citation with annotation:

Bell, C., & Holder, M. (2019, January/February). The Interrelationship between Race, Social Norms, and Dietary Behaviors among College-attending

Women. American Journal of Health Behavior , 43 (1), 23-36.

This article examines a study conducted to compare racial identity and dietary habits of women on college campuses. The findings of the

study found that women with perceived differences and social/family norms were more likely to develop unhealthy dietary habits in college,

most specifically related to fruit and vegetable consumption. This resource is useful because it examines self-perception of race and how that

can impact behavior in ways that influence one's health in the future.

View a full example in APA Style:

  • Annotated Bibliography Example- APA Style A full Annotated Bibliography formatted in APA Style. Users, please verify that formatting matches your course style guide's requirements.
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Writing an Annotated Bibliography

  • Annotated Bibliography Home
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Here's an example of an entry from an annotated bibliography, with the citation of the book in Chicago style and a brief description of the book:

Garrow, David J. Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978.

Garrow describes how the strategy of protest employed by Martin Luther King, Jr., and SCLC at Selma influenced the emergence of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He contends that the choice of Selma as a site for civil rights protests and the specific tactics that SCLC adopted in Selma were part of a plan to force the introduction and passage of national voting rights legislation. The foremost consideration in this campaign was the need to elicit "unprovoked white violence aimed at peaceful and unresisting civil rights demonstrators." Garrow argues that at Selma "a strategy that bordered on nonviolent provocation supplanted the earlier belief in nonviolent persuasion." SCLC correctly assumed that police violence would generate national media coverage and this, in turn, would stimulate reactions "throughout the country, and especially Washington," leading to pressure for federal voting rights legislation.

(Example from: The Civil Rights Movement: References and Resources , by Paul T. Murray. New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1993.)

Dunnow, I. "Predictors of Young Adult Voting Behavior; the Beavis and Butthead' Experience." Annals of Antipathy 30.1 (1995): 57-98. I.

Dunnow's humorous satire of young voters also includes considerable research. Included are results of four surveys of first time voters conducted during the 1990s. Dunnow's tongue-in-cheek approach to developing his article entertains but doesn't distract the reader from the issues covered in the article.

(Example from: UNF LibGuide Creating an Annotated Bibliography )

  • Annotated bibliographies in the library collection
  • Perdue OWL Writing Center Examples
  • UNF LibGiuide - Creating an Annotated Bibliography
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  • Sample Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

  • Annotated Bibliographies Definition and explanation from Purdue Owl.

Purdue Owl Annotated Bibliography Samples  See sample annotations from annotated bibliographies in MLA and APA style.

  • Sample APA Annotated Bibliography Sample APA Annotated Bibliography from Prof. Yiyuan Sun's classes.
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