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Creating an Annotated Bibliography: Home

What is an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, web sources, media, etc.  Each citation is followed by a brief (approximately 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.  Annotations should not be confused with abstracts, which are summaries of content.  Annotations are both descriptive and critical.


Annotations should:

  • evaluate the authority or background of the author
  • indicate the intended audience of the work
  • compare or contrast a work with others in your bibliography
  • explain how this work contributes to your research topic

Sample Annotations

The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:

Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style (MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016) for the journal citation:

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Citation Styles

The citation style dictates the information you need to gather, the order of elements, punctuation, and formatting of citations.

Ask your professor which style s/he prefers or requires for your course or project

Standard styles used at Oberlin:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) used in the social sciences
  • Chicago - which has two formats:
    • Notes and Bibliography used in the humanities
    • Author-Date used in the sciences and social sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) used in English, Rhetoric, foreign languages, and other humanities

Consider using a citation management tool such has RefWorks to help you collect, organize, and cite your research sources.

About this Guide

Adapted from "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography" created by Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA, with a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Creative Commons License.