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Guide: How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Many students, when receiving the task to write an annotated bibliography for the first time, tend to feel confused and even scared with it: they immediately imagine meticulous formatting, having to read through tons of books, and other horrors like that. Although they are particularly right (you will actually have to get yourself acquainted with the books you are going to mention in the bibliography), writing an annotated bibliography is in fact not a big deal, if you know what to do and in which order. Here is where this guide will be helpful to you.

Here are some aspects you should keep in mind.

  • An annotated bibliography is not something challenging: it is just a list of the sources you used to write a certain academic work (articles, documents, websites, books, and so on). Each of the entries must be accompanied by a brief description containing some details about entries: the topic, the main ideas and arguments, quality, accuracy, the way how and why you will be using it in your research, and so on. The length of each annotation is usually 150-200 words.
  • When listing the authors and their works, pay attention to the relevance of the source to your topic, its credibility, date of publication, and the overall quality of the content.
  • Although the bibliography does not, in fact, contribute to the content of your academic paper in general, it is still important that you write it in the best way possible. Proofread all the entries several times to avoid grammar, punctuation, syntax, and phrasing mistakes
  • Formatting style is what really matters when writing an annotated bibliography; therefore, you should pay especial attention to the requirements of APA, MLA, and other styles when listing the sources.

Now that you are aware of the most crucial points, it is time to start actually writing the annotated bibliography.

  • Before actually starting to write a bibliography, you might want to write down all the authors and the titles of their works in one list; you might as well want to mention such crucial details as the date of publishing and the publisher. After you do it, list them in the alphabetical order, and format them according to the citation style you are required to use.
  • Now that you have dealt with formatting the sources, it is time to read and analyze the them. When reading every new source, make detailed notes; you should record not only quotes, facts, and other information relevant to your topic, but also mention the source from which you have retrieved it (with pages). If there is too much to write down, copy or scan the information you need, and mark the essential parts with a marker or colored pencil. Briefly write your opinion on the source. Arrange all the materials you gather according to the sources; a good idea would be to have a separate folder for each source to keep copied materials in.
  • Now, write up to 200 words summing up the contents and your opinion on each of the sources you will be citing. Each entry should contain information on the main idea of the source, its credibility and significance, its relation to your subject, and some comments regarding each source’s similarities and differences from the other.

These are the basic guidelines for writing annotated bibliographies. Good luck.

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