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Garfield Campus | Student Success Center (ABSE)

What is an annotated bibliography?

Some of the high school program research projects require students to write an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a list of all of the works (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) that you cited in your paper and those items you reviewed.

Each source in an annotated bibliography includes an annotation. This is a short description of the content of a book or other source, and provides a critical look and evaluation of that source. It is not enough to simply summarize the source; you must also provide a detailed description and examination of it. Most annotations are 5 - 8 sentences long.  

Items included in an annotated bibliography are not necessarily used as support or evidence in your paper. When writing an annotated bibliography be sure to include an annotation for each source you reviewed for your research topic. In addition to the annotation, each entry in your annotated bibliography should include a citation, written using MLA 8th Edition guidelines. 

An annotated bibliography is not the same as a works cited list. A works cited list includes individual entries for all of the sources used in your research paper, but does not include annotations. 

Below are more resources to help you understand and write an annotated bibliography for your research project. If you need more help, please visit the Garfield Campus Library to speak to a reference librarian.

What to include in an annotated bibliography

To write an annotation, include several details about the source's author and the work itself. Click here to open a blank form you can use to help you write an annotation. 

These questions below are based on the Glendale Community College Library's guide How to Complete an Annotation for a Source. Don't worry if you can find an answer to every single question. Some of these questions might not apply to your source. Answer the questions you can to the best of your ability and use the answers to guide you in writing your annotation. 

The following questions, along with the answers, give you an example of a completed form, using the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich.

1. Who is the author and why should you pay attention to what he or she has to say? How is the author qualified to write about this subject?

Barbara Ehrenreich is a bestselling author with a background in science. She writes books about social issues and historical subjects and her articles have been published in Harper’s, The Nation, and other national publications.

 2. What are the author's main ideas?

Ehrenreich focuses on the difficulty of making a decent living for those who work at jobs that pay minimum wage or just above it. Many workers have to work more than one job to support themselves and their families, and in some cases their physical health suffers. Many live in substandard housing because they can’t afford to live elsewhere.

 3. What is the purpose of the work and how well does it address the subject? Is it a broad, general overview? Does it focus on something specific? Does it leave anything out?

The purpose of this work is to show how difficult it is to support oneself and a family when relying on minimum-wage jobs. By going undercover and working at several of these types of jobs, Ehrenreich provides a very focused study of these workers’ lives and the everyday struggles they face.

 4. What is the author’s point of view, attitude or beliefs upon which the work is based?  Are there signs of bias, such as strong language or a one-sided presentation of the facts/issues? 

Her first-hand account of her experiences contain some bias, but she does report on her experiences objectively. Most of her writing deals with the workers themselves and their difficulties finding good-paying jobs and decent housing and the other difficulties in their lives. 

5. Does the author seem to be trying to reach or influence a particular audience? If so, who is the intended audience?  Scholars?  General adult population?  Everyday consumers? A group of people sharing a particular point of view?

Ehrenreich’s conversational writing tone and subject matter show that she’s trying to reach a general adult audience, possibly those who are fortunate enough to work in good-paying jobs with a college education and are interested in the problems of the working poor.

6. How does this source compare/contrast to others in your bibliography? 

This book is a first-hand account of living below the poverty line and being unable to find better work because of lack of education and skills. The other sources in my bibliography deal with the economic consequences of poverty. 

7. How does this source support/influence your thesis?

This supports my thesis that people who work in low-wage jobs have a difficult time getting out of poverty because of the psychological and physical toll of these jobs. 

8. How is your source organized? Is there any supporting information that is helpful, such as appendices, index, notes, and list of sources cited by the author?

Ehrenreich organizes her book in chronological order. Because the book is a personal account, combined with a critique of social and economic issues in the United States, it does not contain an index or notes but does end with a Reader’s Guide of discussion questions.

Example of an entry in an annotated bibliography

 

MLA Annotated Bibliography" (1:08)

This short video from Craven Community College Library explains the reasons to write an annotated bibliography and what information you need to include about your sources in each annotation.

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