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Annotated Bibliography Guidelines

An annotated bibliography includes, along with the alphabetical listing of works, an annotation (commentary or explanatory note) about the work.

Prepare the basic bibliographical entries in the usual way, arranging the information about the works according to the style manual recommended by your teacher or the manual appropriate to the field or discipline for which you are writing, for example, Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) style.

With each entry, include a commentary of between two and four complete sentences. The commentary should contain all or some of the following elements (check with your teacher if you are uncertain about which elements to include). The following list is suggested in James D. Lester's Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide, 5th edition (133-34).

  1. Explain the main purpose of the work.
  2. Briefly describe the contents.
  3. Indicate the possible audience for the work.
  4. Note any special features.
  5. Warn of any defect, weakness, or suspected bias.

Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. 5th ed. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1987. Freshmen who need to understand the research process, the writing process, and the technical aspects of scholarly documentation will benefit from the detailed explanations and helpful illustrations in this book. The sections on non-MLA documentation, for example, APA and medical styles as well as footnote and endnote styles, make the book useful as a reference for many different subjects. The Appendix of scholarly sources for various academic disciplines will save student researchers hours of library work.


Turabian Kate. (1976). Student's Guide for Writing College Papers. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Turabian's book, similar to the Chicago Style Manual from the same publisher, is the preferred style guide for writing undergraduate history papers. Undergraduate history papers use footnotes or endnotes, so Turabian gives detailed information about writing notes and bibliography entries from the same sources. Parenthetical in-text documentation is explained as well. The arrangement of information with a numbering system by chapters and chapter subdivisions is very easy for students to follow.

Last revision: August 4, 2003