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What is an Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliography: An Overview

So what is an annotated bibliography? In simple terms, an annotated bibliography APA or an annotated bibliography MLA is a bibliography that contains annotations. Annotations may include a critique of the author you have cited, a summary of their work, and the factuality of the source plus a discussion on whether the content is essential to your research. An annotated bibliography is vital to students as it helps them perfect some of their academic skills. Since you are required to provide a summary of the work you used as a source, it forces you to go through the entire journal, article or essay to have a clue of what you are writing about. It improves your knowledge this way. The information you put in also needs to be evaluated to know if it is credible. Your analytical skills improve by doing this often. Look for information that is useful for your assignment to be sensible. Your research skills also get refined as you are required to look for information from various sources, not only the ones you find online but also books in the library.

An APA annotated bibliography or an MLA annotated bibliography is also a time saver when it comes to assignments. It is easier to remember sources if you only cite two or three of them. Conducting thorough research goes a long way in improving the quality of your assignment. It is advisable to write down all the sources you think you will need in writing your annotated bibliography MLA or annotated bibliography APA. Some of the things to jot down include the author's credibility, arguments, your opinion on the usefulness of the author in your research, quotes and points to include in your paper, and the initial ideas of the source.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliographies differ in writing, some contain informative annotations while others only include a primary summary. However, there is an annotated bibliography maker that some websites provide. Most MLA or APA bibliography format annotations, however, contain a variety of elements, and the number of words also differs. Depending on your tutor's preferences, you may be asked to write either an APA annotated bibliography or an MLA annotated bibliography. The next step is to summarize the main ideas that the author has. It is so that someone else can read it and be able to grasp what it is about entirely. Do not be biased and let your feelings towards the source show in your writing, be objective in what you say. After that, evaluate the author and tell the reader how the source fits into your research paper. Ask yourself some questions to come up with a compelling critique on the same. But for those who are only practicing writing annotated bibliography, small bits make it more straightforward.

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Examples of APA Annotated Bibliography and MLA Annotated Bibliography

Writing your annotated bibliography example in either MLA or APA bibliography format is the most common. They do not have significant differences, but we shall look at both of them to get it.

  1. APA Style

Bernard, K. (2007). Child poverty: The Impact and Evolution of child benefits. In Catherine, K., & Howard, P. C. (Els), (pp. 21-44).

Kevin Bernard bases his study on a widely published policy analysis plus documents of the government in explaining the benefits of children in Canada. He impresses upon readers that it is their responsibility as members of the society to bring up children by outlining some assumptions. By comparing Canadian children to others in different countries, he opens the eyes of those who assume that children in Canada are protected from lacking anything and that they fair better than others. He defends the National Child Benefit from the criticism of journalists and politicians. The author points out the benefits, development, and cost that the organization has assisted in, including its contributions to a recipient's income. He further states that the government chose an inferior policy, the Universal Child Care Benefit, while scaling back on the NCB. His main shortcoming is that he cites most of his works and is the primary writer of over half the sources in his bibliography. He could strengthen his argument by drawing from other sources that relate to his research. He does not offer useful sources for his work as the government documents he uses are already available to parents.

  1. MLA Format Example

Bernard, Kevin. "The Impact and Evolution of Child Benefits.". Ed. Catherine and R.Brian Howard.

Bernard closely studies government documents and his research to come up with conclusions on child benefit programs in Canada. He uses assumptions that people accept fundamentally to argue that all members of the society should contribute to the upbringing of a child. In comparison, Canada is not doing as well as people would like to think when it comes to the protection of children. According to him, the National Child Benefit did not deserve the criticism it got from both journalists and politicians. Bernard points out the benefits that NCB has brought to the society in general as well as individuals. According to him, it's the government's fault for scaling down on NCB and preferring the Universal Child Care Benefit which is the inferior policy. However, half of the sources he sites in his bibliography are his own, making his conclusion weak. He should at least include references from other authors to make his essay stronger. There is a chapter that gives a thorough analysis of government-funded assistance offered to parents, making it a valuable source. It assists in examining the financial reality of poverty that Canadian children are facing.


Before embarking on the journey of writing, a student should be familiar with what is an annotated bibliography. When you use an annotated bibliography, it helps you become a better researcher. It challenges you to go through the source material carefully and then come up with an insightful summary of the same. You will also be required to state the arguments that the author raises using your own words thus improving you paraphrasing technique. An annotated bibliography saves you a lot of time, although going through each source, reading all the information contained in them, and making annotations sounds tiresome. Once you complete your annotated bibliography, it remains in your mind, and you never have to read through the entire source material again. You can also use free annotated bibliography maker available online. The information that you have read can be used in future assignments as you are now conversant with most of the content, hence, it becomes easier and faster writing your article. Feel free to use the annotated bibliography example provided in this article.

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