• This writing lesson focuses on skills related to writing an annotated bibliography in advance of an extended research paper. It also includes some information about different documentation styles, with a focus on APA style.
  • A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journal articles, Websites, etc.) that you have consulted in order to write a paper.
  • An annotated bibliography differs from a standard bibliography. For each source listed you will need to provide descriptive or evaluative comments (i.e., annotations).

Information to include in an annotation

Depending on your assignment guidelines, you may have to:

  • Describe the content of the source
  • Mention why the source is useful
  • Indicate any strengths or weaknesses of the source

Evaluate the overall reliability of the source; you can do this by looking at:

  • The author's conclusions and how he/she arrived at them
  • The references consulted
  • Describe your reaction to the source

Format of an annotated bibliography

Your instructor may have indicated a particular citation style guide to use. If not, consult one of the main citation style guides such as MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian (see other sources below for call numbers and locations to these guides).

Consult these style guides to format your bibliography correctly.

Most bibliographies organize items alphabetically by the author's last name. Use a citation style guide to determine what information to include for each item. Your annotation should appear right after or below the citation.

Example according to APA

Chrisholm, P. (1996, March 11). The ADD dilemma. Maclean's, 109, 42-44.

This magazine article looks at the use of Ritalin in Canada. Specifically, it covers the drug's side effects, why there is so much debate surrounding its use and how teachers have come to rely on it to control problem students. The article is based on information taken from interviews, statistics and studies that were conducted. Overall, it is well written and well researched.

Kirkey, S. (2001, November 27). Jury's still out on Ritalin. The Gazette, A1.

This newspaper article focuses on a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about the short and long-term effects of using Ritalin. The information comes from a reputable source and is based upon fact. This article was useful for my research as it helped support my idea that Ritalin may not be the answer for treating children with ADD.

Mercogliano, C. (2003). Teaching the restless: One school's remarkable no-Ritalin approach to helping children learn and succeed. Boston: Beacon Press.

Mercogliano describes how depending on medication, such as Ritalin, to treat students with attention deficit disorders may not be the right approach. The book also calls into question how teachers deals with students who have ADD.

Additional sources for preparing annotated bibliographies

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., 2003 (refer to page 613). 

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed., 2003 (refer to page 145). 

Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography, 2nd ed., 2000. Z 1001 H33 2000 WEB Reference

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed., 2001.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed., 1996 (refer to page 174).


Please open the exercise to continue.