How to write an annotated bibliography - instructions

Well, students need to deal with lots of serious and complicated assignments that demand some special skills and have peculiarities in the structure. One of the core rubrics of serious assignments is a bibliography or reference list. It is a list of all works cited in your research and provides the readers with the basis of your assignment. So, you just give the references to support your research by valid sources. An annotated bibliography is a type of bibliography that consists of citations and annotations. In case you have some problems, you can also appeal to annotated bibliography writing service. Well, let’s look at the instructions to help you with writing an annotated bibliography.

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What is an annotated bibliography? 

Learners sometimes deal with some assignments that consist of a bibliography. Such assignments are completed in the form of in-depth research, hence, you need to support your paper with citations as it shows that your research is well-founded, reasonable, and coherent. That helps the readers to find out the topic, double-check the information, investigate it by themselves, etc. Hence, a bibliography is an important chapter of your assignment and it has to be clear, proper, and formatted in compliance with general requirements. So, what is an annotated bibliography?

So, first of all, we need to explain that an annotated bibliography is a certain type of bibliography that consists of three core elements: cover page/title, citations, and annotations. In general, it is a list of references/citations that is followed by annotations to each source. It looks in the following way: title, citation, annotation, citation, annotation, and so on. An annotated bibliography is intended to give the readers more detailed information about the works cited. You need to write a citation and provide the reader with a short brief about it. An annotation is different from an abstract, and it has to be short, informative, reasonable, and clear. Hence, it consists of such elements as a brief outline of the information; its strong and weak sides; its inference; its impact on your research; its methodology; your own opinion about the reference; etc.

It should be written in the form of a description, summary, evaluation, or reflection. These types aim to give information about a certain source and write an overview of it. The types are in the form of consideration of the work. 

A description is a general overview of the cited source that reveals its main idea, and topic, describes the importance of the work, and so on. It is better to use descriptions for general sources that don’t have a significant impact on your research and consist of some basic information. 

A summary is brief information about the cited work that gives the reader all the significant data, such as the main theme and points of the work, its short conclusion, and so on. A summary should be informative and summarize all the essential data of the work in two or three sentences. 

An evaluation is a kind of personal assessment of the work cited and its connection with your research. You need to assess the importance of the reference for your research, its impact on your work, the content of the work cited, and so on. Eventually, you get an evaluation of the source. 

A reflection is a kind of display of the main points and conclusions of a certain source. It is similar to the description, however, it aims not to describe the content, but to reflect the main topic of the work instead. 

Annotated bibliography tips to ease the process

So, as you see, you need to follow some requirements and complete the paper in compliance with the peculiarities of writing annotated bibliography. It is not difficult but in case you don’t know the general tips, you may waste too much time preparing a proper paper. 

Well, there are some annotated bibliography tips to facilitate the process and resolve your issues with annotated bibliography. First and foremost, you need to take into account the fact the whole annotated bibliography consists of 3 parts: title, citations, and annotations. There is a running header as well but it is not a particular element of the annotated bibliography. 

The title is «Annotated bibliography» or «Annotated list of references». It is centered almost in all formats. An annotated bibliography is used when you provide all the sources you used to do your research even works that are not cited in the text. In turn, an annotated list of references is used when you give the list of works cited in your assignment. It may be different and you have to follow the requirements of your instructor. 

Then, we need to clarify some details of citations. Firstly, sources for your research have to be credible and valid. It is not acceptable to cite any questionable or dubious resources to avoid unnecessary consequences. Each work has to be reasonable, well-known, verified, and somehow connected to the topic. Speaking of sources, we also should mention, that you may cite not only books. There are such types of references as books, journals, articles, websites, and so on. They are divided into primary and secondary sources. The main point is to follow the requirements of citing that or another type of source. Making a citation in the annotated list you need to provide the readers with the next information: an author, title, publisher, and publishing year. As for websites, you have to share the URL. Such instructions can be different depending on the type of reference and format. 

As for her tips, we can say, that annotated bibliography is mostly streamlined in a certain way. Lots of formats follow an alphabetical order by title, author, publishing year, or subject. However, it helps you to have all references in a certain order to eat the navigation. 

Speaking of some formatting requirements, there are such peculiarities as margins, indent, running head, and so on. Margins are 1-inch throughout the paper for almost all formats. The running head and indent are different, so, you need to follow the peculiarities of your format. As for APA, an annotation is five spaces indented, and the running head is 1/2-inch down. The MLA running head consists of the last name of the writer and a page number. So, you can see, there are some differences. 

We can also advise you on how to write a proper annotation. Firstly, it has to be short and informative. You don’t need to write lots of unnecessary and general information. It should display the credibility of the source, its connection to the topic, your personal opinion about the source, the way it influences the research, and so on. Consequently, you get a paragraph of the concise outline of the work cited.

Then, it is important to mention that an annotated bibliography is double-spaced in almost all formats. 

Consequently, taking everything into consideration, we need to clarify once more that to write a proper annotated bibliography, you need to have an excellent understanding of the topic and in-depth knowledge of its sources to make a comparison, show the readers connections and links, make your research well-founded, and so on. Writing your annotated bibliography, you need to bear in mind its general peculiarities and pay attention to cited work, its credibility, trustworthiness, etc. Moreover, to complete an annotated bibliography properly, you need to comply with the formatting requirements of your format. So, you need to format your paper to get a flawless result. 

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An annotated bibliography multiple authors – overview 

Well, to make a clear citation, you need to give certain information about the source, its author, and other publishing data or reference data. It is necessary to provide everyone with the opportunity to double-check the information, look through the cited work, do more in-depth research, and so on. So, the given data has to be valid and clear. In general, if we speak about books, you need to write an author, title, publisher, and publishing year. Such information is enough to make a citation. However, there are some cases when you have annotated bibliography multiple authors of one source. So how can you complete such a citation? 

Well, it is quite easy. We have some advice for you to ease the process. You need to write the name of the first author and then write all the other authors by using commas. So, it looks like a list of authors, separated by commas. 

For example, speaking of APA format, there are two rules on how to cite multiple writers. The first one is used when you have from 2 to 19 authors. You just need to mention them one by one. And the second one is used when you have 2o and more authors. You just write 19 authors, paste three points, and write the name of the last author. That’s all. So, as you see, the rule is pretty easy. 

An annotated bibliography with multiple sources – guidelines 

Well, we have already discussed the type of citing with multiple writers. However, at times, there are some works written by one author. So, there is a question, how to cite annotated bibliography with multiple sources written by similar authors? 

In general, you need to write the name of the first author and et al., and then write the title and publishing information. Here, you need to look at the publishing year. In case these sources have the same years of plashing, you need to follow the list of authors to the first different one. In case the years are not the same, you may write a surname and et al. then the publishing year, and a title. It helps the readers to find out the cited text. 

What is an annotated bibliography length? 

Well, as we have already mentioned, an annotated list has to be short and informative. An annotation is a concise paragraph that is written in form of a description, summary, evaluation, or reflection. To put it briefly, you don’t need to overload an annotation with lots of information. It has to be coherent, reasonable, as well as succinct. The annotated bibliography length depends on the format of the paper, however, it is from 100 to 300 words per annotation. So, you just need to write a citation – it is a line and around 200-250 words of annotation. The length of the whole annotated bibliography depends on the number of citations because each citation has an annotation. 

Consequently, you should look at your annotated bibliography and comprehend whether it is overloaded by too much data or whether it is not informative. So, you may need to shorten the text or make it longer instead. 

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Is there an appropriate annotated bibliography format? 

Speaking of annotated bibliography format, we can say that it can be formatted in different formats depending on the requirements of the instructor. It has to be formatted in the same style as the whole research. So, if your research is formatted in APA style, an annotated list has to comply with APA requirements of formatting too. 

In general, there are the most popular formats of annotated bibliography, such as APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, AMA, CSE, IEEE, and ASA. These are used by numerous learners and scholars. It is not difficult to comply with them, however, each format has some essential peculiarities that you need to follow to write a flawless paper and achieve success. 

Annotated bibliography samples

Well, to make a long story short, we can show you annotated bibliography samples of citations to explain all the details indeed. You need to give the information in the following way: 

Pilcher, Helen. Visual Learning: Biology: An Illustrated Guide for All Ages. Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Template for annotated bibliography

There is a template for annotated bibliography to show you all the core elements of the citation and reference: 

Citation: Author’s last name, initials, year of publishing, title, subtitle, edition if it is necessary, publisher. 

Annotation: the short brief summary of the information in the form of description, summary, evaluation, or reflection.

Annotated bibliography example

So, now, let’s look at the accurate annotated bibliography example of a certain format. 

MLA annotated bibliography 

Speaking of MLA annotated bibliography, we can say, it is not difficult to format: 1-inch margins, 1/2-inch down right-aligned running head with page number and last name of the writer, and the first line of the annotation has indent five spaces. The title is centered, and the paper is double-spaced. An annotation is about 100-300 words in the form of a summary, evaluation, or both. 

MLA template: author last name, initials, title, publisher, year of publishing. 

MLA example: Alberts, B. Molecular Biology of the Cell. Garland Science, 2017.

AMA annotated bibliography 

An AMA annotated bibliography is formatted as an AMA reference list. You need to comply with single spacing in paragraphs and double spaces in between, set 1-inch margins throughout the paper, and a right-aligned page number. The numbers of the works have to be the same as their appearance in the research. There are no periods between the initials.

AMA template: author last name, initials, year of publishing, title, publisher. 

AMA example: Gibson, P. (2020). A Short History of Philosophy. Arcturus Publishing.

Chicago/Turabian style annotated bibliography

The Chicago/Turabian style annotated bibliography has the next peculiarities: 1-inch margins throughout the paper, right-aligned page number 1/2-inch down, centered title. An annotation is in the form of an evaluation or summary, however, it is a little bit shorter – around 50-200 words. There are also two types of citations: author-date and notes-bibliography. 

Chicago template: author last name, first name, initials, year of publishing, title, publisher. 

Example: Wood, Bernard. 2005. Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. OUP Oxford.


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