How to Write an Annotated Bibliography (MLA & APA & Chicago) Step by Step?

An Annotated Bibliography

Any research project, regardless of the topic and complexity of the work, cannot be imagined without annotations. There is a number of strict rules when it comes to bibliography annotations: most importantly, they need to follow the specific guidelines for each formatting style.

Annotated bibliography entries serve different purposes. Some annotations are put there in order to summarize the source. Others are designed assess or evaluate the work used in the research project. There are also bibliography annotations that combine all three types. When deciding on the style for your annotated bibliography, consider its purpose and the instructions given to you by your supervisor.

Regardless of the formatting style required at your institution, all annotated bibliography pieces need to follow the same rule: the author’s last name should be the only part that is flush left, while the rest of the text requires to be indented.



Annotated Bibliography Example (MLA Style)

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

  • The most valuable thing about Lamott’s work is the insight into the life of a writer with all of its successes and victories, as well as failures and doubts. Using an anecdotal manner of writing and supplying numerous examples from her own writing career, Lamott offers valuable advice to novice and struggling writers, and anyone who is considering taking the writing path in life.
  • Lamott’s book shouldn’t by any means be considered a handbook for those who are aspiring to become a published writer. Instead, Lamott offers something even more valuable: a personal perspective on the writing and publishing business, gentle advice for those who experience writer’s anxiety, and a share of fun in the process. From this book readers can also learn helpful writing exercises and techniques that not only promise great results, but are also fun to complete.
  • Any writing class curriculum would benefit from including chapters from Lamott’s work – specifically the parts that address the writing process. These chapters can prove to be effective at generating discussion in class and allowing students to understand more about the writing and revising process. The writing exercises listed by Lamott can also be used in class. The author’s writing style, which is both educational and lightweight, has proven to be very positively received by students.

In this annotated bibliography example you can find all three types of annotations: a summary of the text, its evaluation, and a view on the applicability of the work in class.

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Annotated Bibliography Example (APA Annotation)

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry

  • Holt and Company.
  • This book by Ehrenreich is a nonfiction work that includes a lot of her own experiential research. The goal of the research was simple: to determine whether it’s currently possible to live on a minimum wage in the United States. To prove her point, Ehrenreich describes her experiences as a Walmart sales employee, a maid working for a cleaning service, and a waitress.
  • The author offers a complete insight into her methods and experiences. She admits that even though her research has generated results, the possibilities of such research are still limited and not all-encompassing when it comes to the economic situation in America. Still, the book gives a good portrayal of the rising cost of living in the US and is based on excellent research.

In this annotation you can also find several types of annotation texts. The first half of the annotation summarizes the book, touching upon its principles and directions of the research. The second half offers a general assessment of the work without assessing the way it potentially benefits the author’s own research.

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Annotated Bibliography Example (Chicago Style)

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess. London: Routledge, 1998.

  • Davidson’s work is dedicated to depicting the various roles of the Northern European pagan goddesses in everyday life. The roles addresses by the author include agriculture, hunting, and a variety of household arts. Davidson also touches upon death, supplying his work with relevant archeological finds, included into the book in the form of black and white photographs, and previous research.

With just one paragraph, this annotation offers a comprehensive summary of the book and methods of researched used by the author.