How to Prepare an

Annotated Bibliography

CLN4U

WHAT IS AN ANNOTATED
BIBLIOGRAPHY?
• List of citations for books, articles, and
documents
• Each source is listed in correct bibliographic
form
• Each citation is followed by a brief (usually
about 150-200 words) descriptive and
evaluative paragraph, the annotation

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF
AN ANNOTATED
BIBLIOGRAPHY?
• A review of the literature on a particular
subject
• The purpose of the annotation is to inform the
reader of the relevance, accuracy, and
quality of the sources cited
• Illustrates the quality of research done and
encourages critical thinking about the content
of the works used

WHY SHOULD I WRITE AN
ANNOTATED
BIBLIOGRAPHY?
• To learn about your topic in preparation for a
research project
• To develop a thesis that is debatable, interesting,
and current
• To review the literature and determine where your
own research fits into the issues
• To read and respond to a variety of sources on a
topic, developing a unique viewpoint through careful
and critical reading

READING STRATEGIES
• Identify the author's thesis (central claim or purpose) or
research question. Both the introduction and the
conclusion can help you with this task.
• Look for repetition of key terms or ideas. Follow them
through the text and see what the author does with
them. Note especially the key terms that occur in the
thesis or research question that governs the text.
• Pay attention to the opening sentence(s) of each
paragraph, where authors often state concisely their
main point in the paragraph.
• Look for paragraphs that summarize the argument. A
section may sometimes begin or conclude with such a
paragraph

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
• 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current or out-of-date for your topic?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?
• Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a
general audience?

*WHAT INFORMATION TO
INCLUDE
• A sentence or two on the general topic or research
question that the work addresses
• A sentence or two on the thesis or argument of the work
• A sentence on the author's methodology: What kinds of
sources are used? Is it a case study or an overview of
scholarship on the subject? How is the book/article
organized?
• Compare or contrast this work with another you have cited
• A sentence on how this source is relevant to your paper
topic or how it will be helpful to your research and analysis

Summarize
• Some annotations merely summarize the source.
What are the main arguments? What is the point of
this book or article? What topics are covered? If
someone asked what this article/book is about,
what would you say? The length of your
annotations will determine how detailed your
summary is.

Assess
• After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to
evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it
compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is
the information reliable? Is this source biased or
objective? What is the goal of this source?

Reflect
• Once you've summarized and assessed a source,
you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was
this source helpful to you? How does it help you
shape your argument? How can you use this source
in your research project? Has it changed how you
think about your topic?

EXAMPLE #1
In this article, Nicholson explores the controversial question of
whether, and to what extent, women participated in armed conflict
during the Third Crusade [This sentence identifies the central question
of the article]. After reviewing different historians' views on the issue,
she examines the widely different depictions of women's participation
in the crusade given in Muslim and Christian accounts [This sentence
explains the sources that she used]. Nicholson exposes the biases
within both Muslim and Christian accounts to examine how Muslim
sources tended to exaggerate women's participation in armed conflict
while Christian sources tended to conceal women's roles. Ultimately,
she argues that while women played many important support roles
during the Crusades, their participation in armed conflict was limited
to extremely dire battles [The previous two sentences explain the
thesis of the article]. This article provides an excellent overview of the
primary and secondary sources associated with the debate over the
participation of women in armed conflict during the Crusades; it will
help to support my argument that, while they were essential to the
Crusades, women were limited in the roles that they could play within
them due to social stigma [This sentence explains how the article will
be relevant to your essay].

EXAMPLE #2
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
living.

EXAMPLE #3
Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete
with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the
realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and
anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to
jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In
the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both
productive and fun.
Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing,
but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check
regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect
humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing
and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest
perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing
class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and
would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising
processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for
generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style
both engaging and enjoyable.

EXAMPLE #4
Analysis of data gathered by the Project on Human
Development in Chicago Neighborhoods indicates
that although racial and socioeconomic inequalities
are relevant factors, they are not the singular or
primary influences on neighborhood crime.
Findings suggest that neighborhood violence is
predicted by measures of informal social control,
social cohesion and trust, and perceptions of
violence. Consistent with the social organization
model, collective efficacy is shown to mediate the
influence of residential stability in predicting
neighborhood violence.