How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Essay? Learn Here
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23 May, 2022

Writing an Annotated Bibliography Essay: Main Tips

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Writing an Annotated Bibliography Essay: Main Tips

It is impossible to write an essay without referring to various sources. Even scientists use other research for comparison, analysis, and making their investigations.
Students often browse the Internet to find reliable and relevant data in their essays. However, getting a task to write an annotated bibliography essay on a particular topic, they may get confused even not about the subject itself but about the basic question – what is a bibliographic essay?
An annotated bibliography is a list of all the sources to a definite topic with a short description of each one and a citation of an actual point of view or reaching outcomes. A bibliographic essay is an analysis, not a summary or description.

Basic Rules to Compile Annotated Bibliography for an Essay

A bibliography essay is a literature review that may be used by others writers interested in the same topic. It may be rather handy for newbies to grasp the main idea of the researched paper. But it may be challenging to compile as it requires particular observance of the formatting rules.
As we have already mentioned, a bibliography essay is an analysis of literature but not a representation of your thoughts and ideas. To sum up your review, there must be a short annotation of each source considered at the end of each essay.
So, you cannot write an annotated bibliography essay without compiling a proper annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography usually contains:

  • Bibliographic information.
  • Annotation.

The critical point to start writing an essay is defining a topic that will cover the literature used in the paper. It is also essential to determine the correct number of sources and indicate what bibliography for an essay you use. It is worth mentioning that it can be not only books but also articles, reliable websites, or other publications.

How to Write a Bibliography for an Essay?

While writing an annotation, a citation is required. But it should be mentioned that citation and bibliography are similar but not the same issues. Both of them are related to the list of sources. But citation is a listing of items referred to and cited while writing. A bibliography is a list of materials you consulted for essay writing.
While annotation has no rather strict rules of writing formats, the bibliography has three basic styles. But in general, it should contain information about the author, title, publisher, and publication date.

  • APA annotated bibliography. The American Psychological Association’s writing style is usually applied to scientific or technical sources. The author followed by date is the distinctive feature of this style. For example,
    Tang, F., & Pierce J. W. (2014). Alzheimer’s disease in young adults. Journal on Aging, 14(3), 220-243.
  • MLA annotated bibliography. The Modern Language Association style is usually applied to literature, psychology, or art. Often used for citing non-printed materials (websites, interviews, etc.) For example,
    Lindsey, Suzie. “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow, Accessed 25 Nov 2018.
  • Chicago bibliography style is the most general and used for the in-text citation notes that can be in the form of endnotes or footnotes. It is good for applying for web resources, videos, or audio. For example
    Chicago Manual of Style. “Is the world ready?” Facebook, April 19, 2017.

If you need to cite sources while writing your essay, you may implement narrative in-text citation. First, write the author’s name at the beginning of the sentence and add the page number or paragraph (for websites) at the end of the sentence.

Bibliography in an Essay Explained

What is a Bibliography in an Essay? While writing a research paper or essay, it is essential to define the scope of materials for research which depends on the investigation amount and complexity of the assignment. A bibliography is not a simple list of sources on the same topic. As you can see, there are definite rules to follow.
Including reliable sources and citing them in your essay, you show your understanding of the topic and research work performed. Moreover, by including a bibliography in an essay, you state that you only refer to specific materials, and they are not yours. Therefore, it is essential not to be convinced of plagiarism and make strong arguments.

Annotation in Essay

When writing an annotated bibliography essay, you should include a brief annotation of used materials in the text. But what to start with?
You usually start writing papers with an introduction. Do the same. Describe the topic or problem, and explain the importance or significance of your writing. It is worthless to investigate or analyze general truth, so choose the topic that arises a lot of interest or has controversial issues. In other words, explain why you write on this or that topic.
The body of your essay usually contains annotations, but at first, give the overview of the literature in analytic form. Next, provide a clear definition of a few points or issues you will describe or a brief history. After that, rely on books, research, or investigations to demonstrate their differences or uniqueness.
Be careful and do not give a summary of sources applied. Instead, give an analysis or comparison. Moreover, there must be a strict distinction between your ideas and the data from the materials you take. You confuse your reader when he can not distinguish the source of information, whether it is your belief or official data.
There are different annotation types:

  • Descriptive (Indicative) – describe the source and summarize the chief points. May indicate the source chapters.
  • Informative (Summary) – provide a summary emphasizing the importance of the chosen source.
  • Evaluation – evaluate the source by comparison and contrasting, paying attention to reliability.

It is possible to combine all three types starting with a description, then devote a few lines to source value and credibility, and finish with a comparison. But, the best solution is to ask your tutor about the required type.
An annotated bibliography introduction paragraph should contain nearly 200 words and focus on the following:

  • purpose of the source;
  • importance and relevance to your essay;
  • helpful features;
  • credibility;
  • author’s conclusions;
  • your conclusions.

Finally, after providing a bibliography annotation of sources, summarize the literature, the main strengths and weaknesses, and what should be followed. Do not overload your essay with piles of materials that cover the same idea. You should work on contrasts.

Tips for Writing an Annotated Bibliography Fast

Students often lack time for making assignments, so they need a guideline for fast issues management. So, how to write an annotated bibliography fast?

  • Evaluate the source. A precise and critical overview of the materials will give an understanding of their trustworthiness and credibility. You may pass through the CRAAP test to define a source’s credibility. Just answer the questions:
    • Is this source Current?
    • Is it Relevant to your topic?
    • Is the author Authoritative?
    • Are the data and outcome Accurate?
    • With what Purpose can you use it?

    Sometimes looking for appropriate referral materials takes more time than writing. So, by applying the test, you may quickly sort out sources that are best to use.

  • Now, it is high time to compile an annotation. Do not write a too-long descriptive text. It must be one paragraph containing a summary, conclusion, and relevance of the study to yours.
  • Organize your bibliography in a required writing style (APA, MLA, or Chicago). Again, it is better to ask your tutor beforehand what style is required.

In any case, don’t be in a hurry. When taking non-authoritative or out-of-date sources, there is a high possibility that your paper will not be accepted. Moreover, pay attention to the right style of bibliography in an essay.


If you still hesitate concerning the necessity to write an annotated bibliography, it is OK. This type of assignment is not easy at all. But you should do this to dive deeper into research that was done before you. In such a way, you will be aware of the problem and the main issues of the investigated topic.
Moreover, it may help other researchers to grasp the problem issues and main thoughts summarized in your essay. Finally, a bibliography from your essay may serve as a bibliography for an essay of another beginner researcher.

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