Annotated Bibliography Samples
This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
Contributors: Geoff Stacks, Erin Karper, Dana Bisignani, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-20 13:19:26
For a sample of an entry from an annotated bibliography entry in PDF, click on the downloadable file in the media box above.
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 insecuritiesand failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters inLamott'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, Lamottincludes 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 2016 Formatting and Style Guide.
Sample APA Annotation
Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: 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.
You should compile a bibliography when writing an essay, article, or research paper that relies heavily on source material. A bibliography is an alphabetized list of sources that have been used to compile data, typically in an article, essay, or research paper. This list is found at the end of the work and allows the person reviewing the data to verify the veracity of the statements and/or figures presented in the data itself. It also allows a writer to give proper credit for quotes or key phrases that have been written and presented in a source that they may have referenced in their paper so as to avoid plagiarism.
Bibliography for Books
The basic information you should cite when referencing a book includes; the author (surname first, followed by their given name or initials), the book title (in italics), the publisher, as well as the place and date of publication. Each section should be followed by a full stop. Your citation should look like this:
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer. Wu Xia and the Art of Scooter
Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
Note how the first line is not indented, but subsequent lines are. This is the format for all multiple line citations, regardless of the source of the information.
Should the source have more than one author, your citation should appear as follows:
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer, and Cindy Lu. Wu Xia and the Art of
Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
If there are more than two authors for your source, note your citation as follows:
Smith, John Jacob Jingleheimer et. al. Wu Xia and the Art of
Scooter Maintenance. New York: Springer, 2003.
Occasionally, you will come across a source without a listed author; this is especially common when citing newspaper articles and articles from the internet. When this happens, you should simply move to the next step of your citation.
Bibliography for Newspaper & Magazine Articles
For newspapers and magazines you should include the author, the article title (in quotation marks), the title of the newspaper or publication (in italics), the year of publication and the page numbers from which the information was gathered.
Doe, John. “How Do You Measure a Year in the Life?” The Sun Times.
2 July 2010: 1-3.
Bibliography for Online Resources
When you are citing an online source, do your best to include the following: the author, the title of the article or page, the web address or URL (in italics), and the date of publication.
Johnson, Mary Anne. “How to Bake the Perfect Souffle.”
http://www.foodnetwork.com/article/perfect_souffle. 20 February 2013.
Types of Bibliographies
There are two main types of bibliography formats: MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
- MLA format is typically used by those writing in the liberal arts or humanities community. It focuses on the author of the cited source material, in order to help the reader place him or her in the appropriate historical and philosophical context.
- APA format, on the other hand, is used more often in the social sciences and is useful for citing from journals and other such publications. Its focus is more on the research presented in the source and when it was released, rather than the individuals who conducted it.
Regardless of the format used, every bibliography citation has to have a minimum amount of identifying information. The source matters when it comes to formatting the entry — book titles are underlined, article titles are in quotation marks — and determines what information is needed (for example: a book's publisher vs. a web page's URL).
Write down the citation information for each source as you review it, whether or not you think you will actually use it; it will keep your notes more organized and help you find information quickly when you're doing your actual writing. Plus, it is good practice! The more you practice citation, the less of a chore it will be at the end of a hard paper.