How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

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Your professor just gave you an assignment – write an annotated bibliography. This may be confusing if you haven’t written a bibliography before, which is why you need to learn how to get started and how to avoid plagiarism.

The Basics of Learning How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

As you probably know already, annotations are used to provide the reader with enough information on whether they want to read the complete work and summarize a book, website or an article. However, an annotated bibliography is different from the traditional bibliography. To provide you with an insight into how you should do this, we created a guide on how to write annotated bibliography.

There is no specific annotated bibliography definition, which is why we chose the one we found simplest and most effective: ‘an annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources‘.

Depending on the assignment and the content, an annotated bibliography can have one of the following purposes:

  • Help formulate the thesis
  • Provide a literature review
  • Demonstrate your research
  • Provide examples of sources and information available
  • Describe other items of interest to researchers

Still, you should know that this type is different from the traditional bibliography since every reference in an annotated bibliography is followed by an annotation of approximately 100 to 200 words.

How do You Write an Annotated Bibliography: The Two Major Types

Generally speaking, there are two major types of an annotated bibliography: descriptive and analytical. To help you distinguish between the two, the writers at xpertwriters.com decided to provide us with a guide on how to write an annotated bibliography step by step.

Firstly, let’s distinguish between the two types of annotated bibliography:

  1. Descriptive or Informative

An informative annotated bibliography summarizes and describes a source or an abstract, points out to the reasons why the source is used for research in the first place and showcases its features. Furthermore, this type of bibliography describes the main conclusions, as well as arguments, without criticizing or analyzing them.

  1. Analytical or Critical

A critical annotation summarizes the material and contains an analysis of everything being said. This is the part where you examine both the strengths and weaknesses of the information being presented, as well as describe the conclusions of the author and their applicability to your research.

Now that you know the two types of annotated bibliographies, you can start working on the bibliography format and structure.

  • Select the sources

Obviously, you must have your sources selected before writing the annotated bibliography. Unlike what many students think, this process requires as much time and effort as any other project, sometimes even more. After all, the quality of the entire bibliography depends on the selection of sources you will make.

In order to make good judgments and pick the best sources, take your time and define the scope of the research. You must always have set and defined boundaries to make the research comprehensive. Therefore, look for sources that are closely related to the problems you are investigating, such as essential studies on the topic or things that may apply to your research.

  • Review the sources

Look into the sources you found and pick those that provide the reader with a variety of perspectives on the research.

  • Start writing

Once you have chosen your sources and eliminated the unnecessary information, it is time to start writing. When writing an annotation, place the citation first and the annotation second.

You can arrange these bibliographies both alphabetically and chronologically.

Several Important Points on How to Write a Good Annotated Bibliography

If you were wondering ‘how do I write a good annotated bibliography?’, the answer is very simple: take your time.
Even after you finish selecting the sources and writing the annotations, it is time to make sure that the annotated bibliography is properly formatted and relevant to your topic.

Formatting of Citations

The citations in a bibliography simply must be formatted properly. If you fail to do this, your entire effort will be for nothing.

Try to stick to the rules when the time for formatting comes. This information is usually provided by the instructor, so make sure to look into their requirements.

Editing and Proofreading

Go on to proofreading and editing the content before assessing the value of your sources. Annotations filled with mistakes are equally as frustrating as an essay that is not well proofread, which is why you must make sure that everything is in perfect condition.

Relevance of Sources

If your bibliography comes in combination with a research, identify how you plan to use the source and why it is important for your paper. If you are using bibliography for an independent project, assess the contribution the source has to your research.

When checking the relevance of the used sources, answer these questions:

  • Does the source analyze evidence you plan to use?
  • How can the conclusions of the source affect your investigation?
  • Does the source open up to new ways of looking into the problem?
  • Are you interested in the key concept of the source?

Writing an annotated bibliography is both time-consuming and frustrating. However, if you pay close attention to the tips in this article, you can make the process much faster and easier.

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