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APA Tutorial: Annotated bibliographies

This guide is to help you understand the nuances of writing, citing, and avoiding the pitfalls of plagiarism

What is an annotated bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a type of paper in which the reference entry is followed by short summary of the work known as annotations. APA Style guidelines are applicable to annotated bibliographies, but instructors may set requirements for annotated bibliographies (e.g. how many references to include, length, and focus of annotation, etc.)

Each annotation enables your reader(s) to see the relationship between  your selected works to each other and in the context of the topic you are researching. Many annotations are both descriptive (informing the audience about the source) and critical (evaluating the source’s usefulness or importance).

  • Each annotation will provide the reader with a focused and comprehensive overview of each selected resource on a specific topic
  • These annotations will give the writer a better understanding of the subject matter in preparation for conducting future research in their field of study.

What is the difference between a bibliography and an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography is an organized list of works consulted doing research on a particular topic, which is placed at the end of a paper, journal article, chapter, or book.

An annotated bibliography is a separate paper, journal article, appendix to a journal article, or complete book consisting of a series of entries on a single theme, organized either alphabetically, by date, or by topic. Each entry consists of two parts that together form a single record:

    1. the citation in the proper referencing style
    2. a one-paragraph discussion (or "annotation") of the source listed above

Refer to the APA writing and style guidelines to help you compose your annotations. Use 'in-text' citations when you refer to multiple sources in an annotation.

If your instructor has not set any specific requirements, your annotated bibliography in APA 7th edition format (Section 9.51, p. 307) should:

  • be formatted in alphabetical order, the same as you would any reference list
  • have an annotation below the reference entry that is 0.5 inches from the margin, the same as you would format a block quote
  • only have indented paragraphs if the annotation spans multiple paragraphs (indent the first line of the second and subsequent paragraphs as you would a block quote with multiple paragraphs)

Video and sample paper

 Here, you can review a sample at Purdue Owl