Are you ready to write your first annotated bibliography?

Young beautiful african american HBCU student using laptop, sitting at cafe work on a annotated bibliography for a research paper.
Do you need help with your research paper? Follow our step-by-step guide to complete your first annotated bibliography!

Like many college students, you may be worried about completing a research project of this magnitude. That’s why we have created a step-by-step guide that will help you get started, with APA and MLA-formatted examples that will give you a head start on your assignment!

What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a comprehensive list of the sources that you are going to use to write your research paper; in addition to your APA or MLA-formatted citations, you will also write a series of in-depth summaries that will give your professor a solid understanding of your research topic.

How Do I Write An Annotated Bibliography?

Step One: Work On Your Citations

Every annotated bibliography starts with a reference list, a series of citations that your professor can use to search for your sources online. Each department has its own standard for citing academic sources: APA (American Psychological Association) Style is the most popular citation style in the social sciences, and you will probably use MLA (Modern Language Association) Style when you take classes in the humanities and physical sciences.

As soon as your professor chooses one of the APA and MLA formats, you need to make sure that you structure each citation correctly. Journal articles, newspaper articles, books, and websites are cited differently, and sources with multiple authors have their own unique configuration.

 You can use citation generators like Citation Machine and EasyBib to create your reference list. If you have any additional questions about APA and MLA formats, you can also use The online writing Lab at Purdue University; Purdue OWL has published multiple citation style guides on its website, which makes it another great resource for college students who need to write their own research papers.

Step Two: Summarize Your Sources

When you complete your APA or MLA-formatted reference list, you should start working on your annotations. Every citation should be accompanied by a 2-4 sentence summary, where you will answer the following questions about your source:

  • What was the article, book, or website about?
  • Who was the author? Was it one person, multiple people, or an organization?
  • If it was a journal article or academic book:
    • What were they trying to study [research questions, hypotheses, theories, etc.]?
    • Who were their subjects or participants [sample size, demographic information, etc.]?
    • What were their results? Did their findings support their initial assumptions?
  • If it was a newspaper article, magazine article, or website:
    • How do you know that it is a credible source?
    • Who or what were they writing about?
    • Who was their intended audience?
    • Why was this article significant?
    • What were they trying to persuade you to do?

At the end of each annotation, you should explain how your source will help you answer your research question, support the findings from other sources, or give you additional insight into your bibliography topic.

Annotated Bibliography Examples


Eastern Nazarene College – Annotated Bibliography Example

University of Central Florida – Annotated Bibliography Example


Chandler-Gilbert Community College – Annotated Bibliography Example

Eastern Nazarene College – Annotated Bibliography Example

Trinity University – Annotated Bibliography Example

Scroll to Top