How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography
WHAT IS AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY?
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles,
and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about
150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The
purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance,
accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
ANNOTATIONS VS. ABSTRACTS
Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the
beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes.
Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's
point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a
variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis,
and informed library research.
First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents
that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly
examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that
provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and
scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a)
evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on
the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another
you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography
CRITICALLY APPRAISING THE BOOK, ARTICLE, OR DOCUMENT
- What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation
- Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies,
respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars
- When was the source published
- Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic
- Is this a first edition
- If the source is published by a university press, it is likely
to be scholarly
- Is this a popular magazine or scholarly journal View
Popular Magazine vs. Scholarly Journal
- Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience
- Is there a bibliography
- Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda
- Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or
is it questionable and unsupported by evidence
- Are the ideas and arguments advanced more or less in line with
other works you have read on the same topic
- Does the source extensively or marginally cover your topic
- Is the material primary or secondary in nature
- Locate critical reviews in a reviewing source, such as Book
Review Index, Book Review Digest, OR Periodical Abstracts
CHOOSING THE CORRECT FORMAT
FOR THE CITATIONS
MLA and APA guides are available at the Reserve
Desk. Try Citations
Online for examples on how to cite electronic resources.
Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for
SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE
The following examples use APA format for the citations:
- Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger,
C. (1986). Nonfamily living and
- the erosion of traditional family orientations among young
adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
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
Sewell, W. (1989). Weaving a program: Literate programming
in WEB. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Sewell explains the code language within these pages including
certain lines of code as examples. One useful idea that Sewell
uses is to explain characters and how they work in the programming
of a Web Page. He also goes through and describes how to make
lists and a title section. This will be very useful because all
Web Pages have a title section. This author also introduces Pascal
which I am not sure if I will include in my manual but after I
read more about it I can decide whether this will be helpful to
future users. This book will not be the basis of my manual but
will add some key points, which are described above.