What is an Annotated Bibliography?
- An annotated bibliography is a critical part of the research process. It includes a citation of the sources you’ve consulted on a particular topic, then provides a brief analytical description, or “annotation”, of each source.
- Your annotated bibliography should demonstrate that you can describe and analyze the content of a source in your own words. Annotated bibliographies are excellent opportunities for you to test your understanding. When annotating children’s literature, annotated bibliographies give readers a sense of the textual content (plot, point of view), illustration style and storytelling methods utilized in the book.
Wait, Wait… Tell Me More About the “Annotation” Part!
Writing an effective annotation of children’s literature means you have:
- Succinctly summarized what a source is about in your own words (who the authors are, what occurs in the story, the narrative point of view)
- Evaluated the source (Who is narrating the story? Who is the ideal audience/reader level for this story? What sorts of questions would this story broach in the classroom? What sorts of literary or plot techniques are utilized in telling the story?). Other important aspects to keep an eye out for are the source’s publication date, whether the book has received awards or other recognitions, and how this book compares or differs from others in your bibliography.
- Briefly reflected on how or how this source is useful for your research and interest in this topic.
Okay… So APA Formatting. Help!
Annotations can vary in length, from a few sentences to several pages long. In most of your Bank Street coursework, an acceptable annotation will be between 150-250 words.
An APA (6th ed) style annotated bibliography has two parts: 1) a citation of the work in proper APA (6th ed) format and 2) the annotation itself.
- Citations follow standard APA guidelines as you would in your reference list. Since there is no formal APA standard for citing illustrated books, it is acceptable to cite the author, but be sure to credit the illustrator in your annotation. If the illustrator is essential to the way the story is told (as in a graphic novel or picture book), it is also acceptable to cite the illustrator as the second author. In Goodnight Moon, for example, you have the option of citing illustrator Clement Hurd as the second author. That citation would look like this:
Brown, M.W., & Hurd, C. (2007). Goodnight moon. New York, NY: Harper Collins. (Originally published in 1947)
- The annotation for a source will follow on the next line after the citation, with each paragraph indented. Double-space throughout your bibliography; there is no need for extra spaces between the citation and your annotation.
- Though most short annotations can flow one after the other, consider breaking your annotations into sections if your bibliography is extensive and covers a vast and differing amount of sources.
Example: Illustrated Children’s Book
Bunting, E., & Lewin, T. (2006). One green apple. New York, NY: Clarion Books.
Farah is a young immigrant who cannot speak the English language. She feels alone and
isolated from the rest of the students . Today, her class is going to an orchard to pick
apples. She chooses a green apple, which is different from the other kids’ red apples, just
like her. They make apple cider where all of the students’ apples blend together. This is
the first time Farah feels like she fits in with the other kids, and she learns her very first
English word “app-ell.” The illustrations are realistic with a lot of detail and color. Lewin
accentuates the shadows and highlights in the pictures. This book won the 2006 Arab
American Book Award. Reading level: K-3.
Annotation modified from:
Lelii, M. (2011, November 28). Annotated bibliography for children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://marissalelii.tumblr.com/
Be sure to check with instructors for specific style requirements. For additional guidance, contact reference librarians Peter Hare or Grace Abanavas, call us at 212-875-4456, or come by the Reference Desk in the library. Happy writing!
Hare, P. C. (2016, January 11). Illustrators and APA [Blog post] Retrieved from https://bankstreetlibrary.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/illustrators-apa/
Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2013). Annotated bibliographies. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01
Write Annotated Bibliographies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bankstreet.edu/library/how-can-i/write-annotated-bibliographies/
Many thanks to Rebecca Nieto for creating the content of this blog post.
Tagged with: annotated bibliographies, APA
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Annotated Bibliography Samples
This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
Contributors: Geoff Stacks, Erin Karper, Dana Bisignani, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-20 13:19:26
For a sample of an entry from an annotated bibliography entry in PDF, click on the downloadable file in the media box above.
Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.
As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.
Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.
Sample MLA Annotation
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.
Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecuritiesand failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters inLamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.
In the process, Lamottincludes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.
In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.
For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 2016 Formatting and Style Guide.
Sample APA Annotation
Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.
An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.
The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.
For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide.
Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation
Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess. London: Routledge, 1998.
Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.
This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.
For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.