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Step-by-Step Guide to Write an Annotated Bibliography for Students

The question that sooner or later arises in the mind of every student is ‘what is an annotated bibliography’? In simple words, it’s a list of citations. This list is followed by  short summaries or analysis of the sources used. They are called annotations. Basically, the annotation provides information on the relevance and quality of the cited sources. Typically, the sources are described or interpreted in 150-250 words.

For most students, writing an annotation is one of the most boring tasks in college. However, it’s really important to complete it. Why? Let’s find it out!

Why you should write an annotated bibliography

Students often tend to jump into the paper writing before they’ve done research. And this is really a big problem. As a result, their essays look really weak and earn them poor grades. What’s more, with such an approach students are likely to look at sources that convey ideas they already agree with instead of forming a fresh perspective after analyzing different voices. Eventually, the messages students convey in their essays are quite uninformed.

But a proper annotation can help you avoid this problem. It makes you research different sources, so you can be fully informed about a topic and distinguish between your views, biases and what the research actually shows. Annotated bibliography proves that you have become knowledgeable about your topic and you are writing from a stance of expertise. Thus, your essay sounds more authoritative and persuasive.

How to save time on bibliography writing?

What if you don’t have enough time to create a decent bibliography? It’s absolutely understandable as students have so many responsibilities in their college life. Numerous tasks to complete every day can be a reason to seek help. When I was a student and had a very busy schedule, I asked professionals from special services to write my annotated bibliography for me for some money. It helped me save a lot of time and energy, so I could focus on other tasks. But now, you can also use automated annotation generators that are available online. It’s completely up to you what option to choose. Most importantly, you must be happy with the final result.

Writing an annotated bibliography step-by-step

You can create a good annotated bibliography in three steps. They are evaluating sources, writing annotations for them and formatting your bibliography. Let’s consider each step in more detail.

1.- Source analysis

First of all, you have to critically look at the sources you are going to use for your paper. Your task at this stage is to analyze the author’s qualifications and credentials as well as  the date of the publication itself. You must know that everything is constantly changing, especially in the area of research. That’s why you should make sure that opinions you are turning to are relevant to current events.

In addition to analyzing the author, you should also make sure that the publisher that provided you with the information is credible. If you are using a scientific journal, check if it’s reviewed by professionals in the field and has a great reputation.

Apart from that, it would be great to analyze the audience of the source you are using, possible errors, bias, and omissions of facts. Only by paying attention to all these areas can you evaluate if a source is helpful to your assignment.

2.- Writing annotations

After diving deep into your sources, you can start creating annotations for them. Depending on your intent, there are different ways you can approach this task. You can pick one annotation type or combine them:

  • Indicative annotations describe the source you’ve used, providing its quick summary.
  • Informative annotations offer a short summary of your sources.
  • Evaluation annotations include your evaluation of the source and explanation why it fits into your paper so well.
  • Combination annotations don’t follow one specific format, so you can add a few lines describing the work and end with source evaluation.

Most importantly, always include what your assignment asks for. Annotated bibliography can be written in different ways. Typically, annotations follow specific formats set by instructors. they can be written in phrases, sentences, or paragraphs.

3.- Formatting your bibliography

All bibliographies must contain a title, annotation and citation that vary based on your style: APA, MLA, or Chicago. The style is always set by instructors, so you shouldn’t be creative when it comes to formatting. This process has its strict rules that you must stick to.

Hopefully, this article will help you create a decent annotated bibliography that proves your knowledge in college disciplines.

Author’s BIO

Joel Strachan is a fiction writer and author of several textbooks in Literature. Joel says writing is his devotion and he sees huge value in this occupation. He believes that reading is one of the best ways to expand outlook, so he works hard to produce great entertaining and informative content.