Overview of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is assessment task that is fairly[nbsp]common[nbsp]when writing an assignment for college.

At some point, you might be required to demonstrate effective skills on how to write an annotated bibliography step-by-step.

Just like with the steps for writing a research paper, the steps of writing an annotated bibliography entail comprehensive work.[nbsp]

You have to possess good critical and analytical skills.[nbsp]


To begin with, you need a proper understanding of what is an annotated bibliography.

Per se, an[nbsp]annotated bibliography entails:

“A citation list for particular sources, including articles, books, and other documents. It accounts for previous research in a certain topic area”.


Usually, it encompasses bibliographic data of the entailed sources as well as their respective concise summary and an assessment of their relevance or value.

The list of resources is arranged in alphabetical or chronological order. [nbsp]

Commonly, an annotated bibliography involves a particular phase of a larger research project.

It is therefore essential to ensure that you conduct an expansive study of a topic area to ensure an in-depth understanding of the entailed issues before embarking on actual writing.

Note that each bibliographic data should be accompanied by a 100-200 words paragraph assessing the source.


Sometimes, skills on how to write an annotated bibliography will come in handy when writing a research paper, dissertation, or capstone project.

This applies in cases where you will be required to provide sources to be used for scrutiny or approval. [nbsp][nbsp]


Purposes of an Annotated Bibliography

Bibliographies serve different purposes. [nbsp]Rightly, you need to understand these purposes since they serve as the primary guidelines on how to write an annotated bibliography.

They influence the approach adopted in the assessment of the sources.

Per se, these purposes may include:

1. Formulating a thesis on a particular subject.[nbsp]

2. Providing a literature review on a subject.[nbsp]

3. Demonstrating research you conducted on a particular subject.

4. Describing items on a topic that may be of interest to other researchers.

5. Providing examples of key information sources available on a particular topic.


Categories of Annotated Bibliographies

You need to understand the nature of an annotated bibliography when it comes to how to write an annotated bibliography.[nbsp]

As earlier mentioned, there could be different types of annotated bibliographies.

The difference in their types depends on their purpose and respective instructions.

Notably, you could be required to adhere to different sets of instructions when writing your annotated bibliography.

Such instructions could be as discussed below.

1. You may be required to identify and make comments on similar or dissimilar patterns in different sources, while other instructions could require you to evaluate each source independently.

2. Other instructions may as well require you to only summarize a source without conducting an evaluation.

3. Also, some instructions may require you to provide a preface for the annotated bibliography using a paragraph that explains the investigation’s scope and rationale behind selection of the sources.

4. Further, other instructions could explicitly or implicitly require you to organize the bibliography into different subsections, particularly when it is long.


Considering the different purposes and instructions, annotated bibliographies can be placed under two major categories.

These categories are as illustrated below.


1.[nbsp]Analytical/ Critical Annotated Bibliography

As for how to write an annotated bibliography, this category is the most ideal. This is because it[nbsp]goes beyond general summary of the source material to provide an analysis of the particular contents.

In this, it evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of all the arguments, results, and methods in the source.

It as well examines how applicable are the source’s conclusions on the research being conducted.

This is the most common category of annotated bibliography in the scholarly field.

Usually, there is a part of the annotated bibliography that seeks to criticize or appraise the work of the author. This entails establishing gaps, inconsistencies, or assumptions made.


2.[nbsp]Descriptive/ Informative Annotated Bibliography

This category of annotated bibliographies seeks to describe or provide a summary of a particular source. In some way, it resembles an abstract.

It explains why a certain source is useful to the research of a particular question or topic.[nbsp]It does this by describing the distinctive features of the source.

[nbsp]It also describes the main arguments and conclusions advanced and arrived at by the source. However, it does not examine what the author posits or concludes.


Essential Elements in an Annotated Bibliography

When it comes to how to write an annotated bibliography, you need to consider the various elements that you should pay emphasis on.

Note that annotated bibliographies exhibit certain features despite their diverse purposes.

It is important to understand some of the features since they define top quality work. [nbsp]Such features include:


1.[nbsp]Appropriate Citation Style

The citation style used is an important feature in writing your bibliography. First, you have to understand that the citations in the bibliography have to adhere to a particular format.

You are required to clarify the citation format provided for in your instructions.[nbsp]

In most cases, you will be required to how to write an annotated bibliography in APA. Other formats may include MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc. [nbsp]

You should go through all the requirements in your instructions to find out what features you need to incorporate, including references, quotations, electronic sources, page numbers, footnotes and endnotes, etc. [nbsp]



Appraisal is a core area of focus when it comes to how to write an annotated bibliography. Per se, scholarly works usually require an analytical approach in assessment.

You are required to conduct a critical assessment of the sources.

In doing so, you have to evaluate the credibility of the source and its relevancy. You should ensure that sources used are reliable.

In this, the entailed analysis has to focus on illustrating how a particular source is important to the research study at hand. The analysis should be objective and accurate at the same time.

You should endeavor to analyze an array of different sources covering diverse aspects of a topic area. [nbsp][nbsp]


3.[nbsp]Appropriate Terms

The language is quite important in regards to how to write an annotated bibliography. [nbsp]

Particularly in critical assessment, you are required to adopt terms that reflect professionalism and in-depth understanding of effective assessment.

Such terms should shape the whole assessment. They may include:



Steps on how to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an annotated bibliography is a process and therefore requires proper planning that follows various steps. This process should be systematic right from selection of sources to their assessment.

These steps are as discussed below.


1.[nbsp]Gathering the Sources

This step entails identifying sources to use. It requires different skills on how to write an annotated bibliography. The first thing to do in this step should be to determine the scope of your study.

This is important in ensuring that the bibliography addresses the entailed issues.

Herein, you should ensure that the scope is wide enough and but also confined within particular boundaries.

To stay within the correct boundaries, you should consider the following issues.

1. The type of materials being sought, whether it is journal articles, books, organizational guidelines, or electronic materials.

2. The problem being investigated, issues to be addressed, or research questions to be answered.

3. Available studies on the topic, by evaluating previous citations.


Note that you should prioritize sources with multiple views on the topic under study.


2.[nbsp]Writing the Citation

This primarily entails writing down the citation of the different sources. It should follow the specified citation style.


3.[nbsp]Summarizing the Argument

Summarizing the argument is another key step on how to write an annotated bibliography. Notably, the summary should highlight the work’s purpose.

You should then go ahead to briefly recapture the main argument advanced in a particular source.

Such a recapture should focus on the thesis, investigation methods, and main conclusions.

You should steer away from listing or describing the contents of the source and instead explain the reason for the presence of such content. [nbsp][nbsp][nbsp]


4.[nbsp]Assessing Relevance and Value

This step entails evaluating the value the source adds to your investigation. You should seek to identify any special features as well as biases, strengths, and weaknesses in the source.

In research projects, you should explain how the source can be applied to your study.

Areas to focus on in the assessment may include:

1. the way the research question has been framed.

2. the way key concepts or theoretical framework has been used.

3. the way the source’s conclusions influence your study.

Note that you should dedicate more effort on evaluating the entailed argument’s quality. [nbsp][nbsp]