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Bryan Library

APA Guide-Main Page: Annotated Bibliography

Adapted From ...

This content is adapted from "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography" from the Olin and Uris Libraries, Cornell University and from "Annotated Bibliographies" from the OWL website.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles and websites.  The citation portion is formatted exactly as you would do an APA format for a Reference List.  The annotation is a brief paragraph which describes and critically evaluates the source.  Typically the purpose of the annotation is to describe the relevance, accuracy and quality of the source cited. 

An annotation is brief paragraph (usually about 150 words) that may include the following information:

  • Summary:  summarize the source:  what is the main point of the article?  What are the main arguments?  What topics are covered?
  • Assessment:  after summarizing the article, evaluate it.  Is it a useful source?  How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?  Is the information reliable?  Is this source biased or objective?  Is the author qualified to be writing this article
  • Reflection:  Once you’ve summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research.  Was this source helpful to you?  How does it help you shape your argument?  How can you use this source in your research project?  Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your instructor will explain the details she/he wants included in an annotation for a specific assignment.   

Sample Annotated Bibliography for a Journal Article

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986).  Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations  among young adults.  American Sociological Review, 51(4),541-554.  [HANGING INDENT, of course!]

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles.  They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males.  Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families.  In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.