How to Write an Annotated Bibliography That Works?

Academic writing cannot exist without sources. When students are asked to make proper reference lists, they become bored because this task demands meticulous attention. They start looking for the necessary formats, add commas between authors and their books, make some text in italics, search publication dates. Unfortunately, this step cannot be omitted. Academic writing of high quality should be based on solid research. No one will ever understand how substantial your analysis was unless you write sources in the end.

Bibliography and its synonyms

You might have heard how people call the final section of academic writing: “bibliography,” “works cited list,” “reference list.” These words are synonymic in their meanings. The difference is in MLA, APA or Chicago writing styles. We’ll explain them further in this article. The main aim in reference list is to show how substantial your written task is, which books were used, which citations were added.

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What is an annotated bibliography?

You’ve probably written annotation to essays or university articles. It is a brief description about what readers can learn from the text, what is investigated and discussed. An annotated bibliography is similar to this, but there you describe sources which you have used to write the essay. Let’s look at how to write annotated bibliography step by step:

  • read specific requirements of each style (necessary format will be provided in task description)
  • cite the work;
  • write an annotation.

It looks pretty easy, doesn’t it? After you have understood the structure, let’s move to the practical part.

What are MLA and APA?

These two abbreviations are the most commonly used styles of formatting reference lists. Both of them have unique requirements for citing books, periodicals, electronic sources, and others. Mostly they differ in the order of author’s name and surname, commas, italics. You may have heard about Chicago style, but it is used less frequently. There are various nuances, and you should look for specific requirements of each source individually.

What do you need to cite work?

No matter which format you are using, basic elements should be included in both of them. The most important are the following ones:

  • name of the author/authors;
  • title of the book/article;
  • specific additional information depending on the type of source (volume number, the name of collection; translators; editors);
  • name of the publisher;
  • date of publication.

You can find all the clarified examples by reading articles at OWL. It is popular among students for its up-to-date information about changes in MLA and APA format requirements. There are lots of versions; you should stick to the most recent ones.

What to include in annotation?

Before starting complaining that annotations are just a waste of time, try to understand their value. Annotated bibliography is mainly included in big research papers which require lots of sources. You don’t need to write about each of them – only the most important ones. To be sure, check your task description once more.

In annotation bibliography introduction, you should write a summary of the text which you cited. It shouldn’t include all the information which can be found there. Mention the most significant themes which are raised in the source. You may add why this work was helpful during writing academic papers or explain the readers what else they can find. If people get interested in your research work, they may decide to continue studying the theme. The annotations of the used references serve as advice about where to find more information on the topic.

How to Save Time for Writing Reference List?

Students complain that the Works Cited List takes lots of precious time. But there are several tips on how to make this process quicker:

  • Don’t put off writing the last section

When you start writing the essay, make a separate page for the reference list. And when you add quotes, write the source down. Don’t rely on your magical ability to remember everything. You will forget something, and waste time searching the pages you needed.

  • Make drafts

You don’t need to organize the page with cited works according to the necessary formats after mentioning them in text. You can write down the basic information. After you have done everything, pay attention to the formatting. It’s more efficient because students make lots of changes during writing essays, and sometimes decide to rewrite passages, change the quotes. Maybe, you will have to delete sources; some of them may occur not credible. Because of this, the time spent on formatting will be wasted. So, when you are 100% sure that the source is perfect, add the required MLA or APA formatting.

  • Read a book blurb before writing the annotated bibliography

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The summary of the book is exactly what you need for the annotation. You can’t copy the information but paraphrasing is a good idea. At the end add some specific information which explains why the source is related to your topic. It will help you do this task quicker.

  • Let the computer cite the work

There is a real magic wand for students which can be used online. can do solve the most difficult task for you. By adding information about your bibliography, the website transforms it into necessary formatting. You can even choose between MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. But be attentive and check the results because even computers can make mistakes.

Annotated Bibliography is not that difficult if you remember the organizational tips. It requires patience and attentiveness, but when it is ready, this page will be a perfect testimony for the readers that your paper is based on solid research. It will make you look like a professional academic writer, isn’t it cool?