Have You Annotated Your Bibliography, Orange County?

Sitting in my high school English classes, I used to cringe at the mentioning of annotated bibliographies. It felt like my very soul was being sucked out of my body, and my teacher was enjoying the experience. Now on the other side of the fence, I understand why they put us through it. Annotating is an important skill everyone should learn to become better researchers. We all need analytical skills, so use annotated bibliographies as a way to better your own. Read on to discover what annotations are, and how to best attack them.


What is an annotation?

The definition of an annotation is a note or critical commentary. Also worth defining, a bibliography is a list of source materials organized in a particular manner. It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that these following elements are typically required in an annotated bibliography.

• A citation
• Author’s credentials (degrees, other published work, awards)
• Summary of main ideas/thesis
• Identity who the source is intended for (who is the author writing for)
• Uncover bias and/or determine author point of view
• Note unique features (charts, photographs, data, etc.)
• Compare or contrast source to other significant sources

What should they look like?

• Length varies from professor to professor. Some require only a few sentences, while others want half-page entries or more. Always inquire what a teacher wants before starting the assignment.

• Your language will be similar to essay writing. You should avoid slang terms and write in a professional tone. If using a direct quote, always include quotation marks. As difficult as it may be, avoid starting each entry the same way with, “This source says,” or “This author states.”

• The entire bibliography will end up looking like a bunch of small paragraphs. Similar to paragraphs, sentences should flow and not sound like unrelated thoughts.

How do I know if it’s good?

There is a way to test whether you are doing annotated bibliographies justice; have someone read your annotation. If they are able to understand the basics about a source (what the source is about and what the author is like) you’re on the right path. If they are confused in any way, you have some more work to do.

Like anything else, writing good annotations takes practice. On large research assignments, having this still will be crucial to keeping all your evidence/sources in order. Without it, you’d be constantly searching for information with no way to record and organize your thoughts.

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There you have it, Orange County! Still having trouble with your bibliography? Ask your in-home private tutor for help. Trust us, we’ve been to college and are more than familiar. Don’t have a tutor? Contact us today!

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