Sample Annotated Bibliography
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
Some of your courses at Ashford University will require you to write an Annotated Bibliography. An Annotated Bibliography is a working list of references—books, journal articles, online documents, websites, etc.—that you will use for an essay, research paper, or project. However, each reference citation is followed by a short summative and/or evaluative paragraph, which is called an annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited, and to state how this source will be used in or relevant to the paper or project.
Thus, an Annotated Bibliography has two main parts:
- the citation of your book, article, webpage, video, or document (in APA style)
- your annotation
How to create an Annotated Bibliography.
- Research the required number of scholarly sources from the library for your project.
- Reference each source in APA format. For help on how to format each source, see our sample references list.
- Write two paragraphs under each source:
- The first paragraph is a short summary of the article in your own words. Don’t just cut and paste the abstract of the article.
- The second paragraph is a short discussion of how this source supports your paper topic. What does this source provide that reinforces the argument or claim you are making? This support may be statistics, expert testimony, or specific examples that relate to your focused topic.
Sample Annotated Bibliography Entry
Here is a sample entry from an Annotated Bibliography:
Belcher, D. D. (2004). Trends in teaching English for specific purposes. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24(3), 165-186. doi: 10.1017/S026719050400008X.
This article reviews differing English for Specific Purposes (ESP) trends in practice and in theory. Belcher categorizes the trends into three non-exclusive sects: sociodiscoursal, sociocultural, and sociopolitical. Sociodiscoursal, she postulates, is difficult to distinguish from genre analysis because many of the major players (e.g., Ann Johns) tend to research and write in favor of both disciplines. Belcher acknowledges the preconceived shortcomings of ESP in general, including its emphasis on “narrowly-defined venues” (p. 165), its tendency to “help learners fit into, rather than contest, existing…structures” (p. 166), and its supposed “cookie-cutter” approach. In response to these common apprehensions about ESP, Belcher cites the New Rhetoric Movement and the Sydney School as two institutions that have influenced progressive changes and given more depth to “genre” (p. 167). She concludes these two schools of thought address the issue of ESP pandering to “monologic” communities. Corpus linguistics is also a discipline that is expanding the knowledge base of ESP practitioners in order to improve instruction in content-specific areas. Ultimately, she agrees with Swales (1996) that most genres that could help ESL learners are “hidden…or poorly taught” (p. 167) and the field of genre is only beginning to grasp the multitude of complexities within this potentially valuable approach to the instruction of language—and in turn, writing.
This article provides examples as well as expert opinion that I can use in my project. This will provide me with evidence to support my claims about the current disciplines in ESL studies.
Guidelines for Formatting Your Annotated Bibliography
- Citations should be cited according to APA format.
- Annotations should be indented a half an inch (.5”) so that the author's last name is the only text that is completely flush left.
To see a sample Annotated Bibliography, click here.
Creating an annotated bibliography in MLA style
The MLA Handbook is on reserve at the IRC desk on the Ground Floor.
Some annotations are merely descriptive, summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. Your professor might also ask you to identify the authors' theoretical frameworks.
Many annotations evaluate the quality of scholarship in a book or article. You might want to consider the logic of authors' arguments, and the quality of their evidence. Your findings can be positive, negative, or mixed.
Your professor might also want you to explain why the source is relevant to your assignment.
Sample Page: MLA-formatted annotated bibliography
Battle, Ken. “Child Poverty: The Evolution and Impact of Child Benefits.” A Question of Commitment: Children's Rights in Canada. Ed. Katherine Covell and R.Brian Howe. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 2007. 21-44.
Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs. He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children. His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children. Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists. He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favour of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography. He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses. However, Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents. This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada.
Kerr, Don and Roderic Beaujot. “Child Poverty and Family Structure in Canada, 1981-1997.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 34.3 (2003): 321-335.
Sociology professors Kerr and Beaujot analyze the demographics of impoverished families. Drawing on data from Canada’s annual Survey of Consumer Finances, the authors consider whether each family had one or two parents, the age of single parents, and the number of children in each household. They analyze child poverty rates in light of both these demographic factors and larger economic issues. Kerr and Beaujot use this data to argue that
Rules! rules! rules!
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers states the following formatting rules:
- The text and the works cited list should be double-spaced.
- Number your pages at the top right of the page.
- Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, select the citation, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
- There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
- Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
- Capitalize each important word (noun or verb) in a book or article title
- Each paragraph should be indented.