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Course & Subject Guides

ENGCMP 0450: Research Writing - Oakland Campus

This support guide was created for students in ENGCMP 0450: Research Writing and the Professional Writing Program

What is an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "References" or "Works Cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • 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.

    For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.

  • 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?

    For more help, see these guidelines on evaluating resources.

  • 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?

[Credit to the OWL at Purdue.]

MLA Annotated Entry

The title of your compilation should be Annotated Bibliography. Do not use quotation marks or italics or underlining for the title.[1]

Entries can be organized alphabetically by author, chronologically by date of publication, or topically by subject.[2]

Example of an Annotated Entry

Endicott, Annabel. “Pip, Philip and Astrophel: Dickens’ Debt to Sidney?” Dickensian 63 (1966): 158-62.

Sidney was the inspiration of Dickens’ concept of a gentleman as given in Great Expectations. Philip and Estella have parallels with Philip and Stella. Both Philips love married women of higher rank; both have friends who try to dissuade them. The words “great expectations” occur in Sonnet 21. Dickens may have been exploring the idea of the Petrarchan convention; certainly Estella resembles the Petrarchan mistress.

Your second paragraph would also be indented and continue for several sentences. For example, how does this article relate to the broad social topic of class and prejudice?

[1] Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.

[2] Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography. New York: MLA, 2000.