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What Is an Annotated Bibliography

For some students, getting an assignment to write an annotated bibliography is the worst thing that can happen in their academic career. In fact, this assignment can really be difficult in case you do not know how to accomplish it, or if you do not possess enough resources or time to research all the required materials. However, it is still not the worst thing ever. To do it successfully, you need to know certain things, and all of them will be discussed in this article.

An annotated bibliography is nothing but a review of your literature sources. It can be given either as a separate task or as a part of a larger project. An annotated bibliography needs to feature the most important information about the source and it has to evaluate its key ideas. To present a well-written annotation, you need to:

  • Cite the source (you should provide the source’s complete title, as well as publishing information and author’s name)
  • Briefly tell about the author
  • Highlight the source’s principal idea and argument
  • Discuss the way the author conducted the research (if any was present)
  • Provide information on the focus audience of the source
  • Draw attention to the most useful data from the source, such as calculations, graphs, etc
  • Discuss the relevance of the source to your paper
  • Describe strong and weak points of the central argument
  • Provide your personal opinion on the source

To help yourself write a good annotated bibliography, you can find a sample online and use it as the basis of your work. It is important to find an example that is done properly because otherwise, you might end up repeating someone else’s mistake. Therefore, make sure that your annotated bibliography sample is done perfectly.

While writing your annotated bibliography, keep in mind that it is not an abstract. It should be written in a different way. You should not only summarize the source, but also analyze it. Besides, make sure that you understand the source very well because your professor might want to ask you additional questions about it. Keep in mind that you need to write a short and understandable annotation.

It is also important to stick to all the formatting rules in an annotated bibliography. Sometimes, even a perfectly written annotation can get a low mark if it does not comply with the format. Do not fall to the common assumption that all formatting styles are similar because certain important differences are there. For example:

  • In the MLA and Chicago styles, you must stick to the following order while giving the bibliographical citation: the author’s surname and name, the book’s title, the publishing house’s name, and the year when the book was published.
  • In the APA style, their initials must follow the author’s surname, while the publishing year needs to be taken in brackets. Afterward, the book’s title and publishing house must be indicated, as well as the number of pages.

Now you know how to write a perfect annotated bibliography!


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