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How can I quickly and easily alphabetize my References list in Word?

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  • Select all of the references on your page (do not select the heading on the page: References)
  • On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Sort icon.
  • In the Sort Text dialog box, under Sort by , click Paragraphs and Text , and then click either Ascending .

Image of Sort Text Box

  • Reading and Writing
  • Last Updated Jun 30, 2020
  • Views 367744
  • Answered By Ashley Librarian

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Comments (23)

  • Whoever wrote this answer . I would like to thank you utterly and deeply. It's my last psychology essay in uni and I was exhausted as I had 9 pages worth of references ans this made my day. Thank you deeply kind stranger <3 Norah Z by Norah.Z on Apr 27, 2020
  • Thank you so much for this. Saved me so much time. by Tanshi P on May 19, 2020
  • I am in the last few months of my nursing doctoral program and literally considered dropping out thinking about the 106 references that need to be alphabetized. I randomly typed in "app to alphabetize reference list" fully expecting Pac-Man or Bart Simpson to appear....and got this... Thank you from the bottom of my heart... by Tee on May 31, 2020
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  • Thank you so much for this. After three hours struggling with Mendeley and word, and searching how to organise a huge reference list, your solution got me sortd in under 5 minutes. by karen on Sep 07, 2021
  • Thank you so much. Just knew about this amazing advice - just in time for my dissertation. I wish I had known about this much earlier to save my hours of sorting hundreds of reference pages. ;-) by Trang on Sep 27, 2022
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  • Thank you for this information. You are a life saver! by Gideon on May 09, 2023
  • Wow, thanks. My work has been simplified. by Esther Sandra on May 31, 2023
  • My profound gratitude to you! I am truly at a loss for words; this is indeed a lifesaver for most scholars. by Immanuel Nghifikwa on Oct 17, 2023
  • Thank you to the original author of this post!!! Saved me so much time and I can't believe I didn't know this sooner!!! by Celia Ashton on Jan 28, 2024
  • Thank you so much, I was worried about how to do this manually, but today I learned it from you. by Leena Roseline on Feb 01, 2024
  • Thank you. Seriously, you're a lifesaver. by Asa Burodan on Feb 12, 2024

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How to Alphabetize a Bibliography

Last Updated: February 7, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Michelle Golden, PhD . Michelle Golden is an English teacher in Athens, Georgia. She received her MA in Language Arts Teacher Education in 2008 and received her PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2015. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 60,957 times.

Alphabetizing a bibliography may sound complicated, but it's really not. First, though, you must understand the basics of alphabetizing. Even you think you know how to alphabetize, you may find yourself wondering what to do when you run into a hyphenated word, for instance. You also need to know some of the basic rules of citations, so you know what to use to alphabetize the list. Finally, you can put your list in order.

Using the Basics of Alphabetization

A sample bibliography showing sources alphabetized by name.

  • For example, say you have "Sheldon," "Smith," and "Sherry" as last names you need to alphabetize. "Sheldon" and "Sherry" both have the same first three letters, so you keep going until they are different. The fourth letters in each name are "L" and "R," respectively. Since "L" comes before "R" in the alphabet, "Sheldon" comes before "Sherry" in your bibliography. Therefore, these names would be alphabetized in order in this way: Sheldon, Sherry, Smith.
  • "Smith" comes last because the second letter in "Smith," "M," comes after "H" in the alphabet, which is the second letter in both "Sheldon" and "Sherry."

Step 2 Look at the author’s first name or title.

  • For example, if one author’s name is Robert Smith and the other is Cynthia Smith, then the entry for Cynthia Smith’s work would come first.
  • If you have two books or other sources written by Cynthia Smith, then you would look at the titles of these works. For example, if one of the works is called Bird Tales and the other is called Zoo Life , then “Bird Tales” would come first in the list and “Zoo Life” would come second.

Step 3 Treat hyphenated names as one name.

  • If you have a "Sheldon" and a "Sheldon-Meyers," the shorter name always comes first, so "Sheldon" would come before "Sheldon-Meyers."

Step 4 Skip punctuation and spaces.

  • As an example, if you have the name "Mc Murry," you essentially treat it as "Mcmurry" for alphabetizing purposes.

Step 5 Ignore unimportant words.

  • In other words, if the title is "The Cat Who Couldn't Sleep," you would file it under "Cat." One of the reasons for this rule is that so many titles begin with articles that if they were alphabetized under those words, those sections would have too many titles to be useful for finding it later.

Applying the Basics of Bibliographical Alphabetization

Step 1 Use the author's last name to alphabetize.

  • For instance, most citations begin with the author's last name, followed by the author's first name or initial, like this: Smith, Josie.
  • Therefore, you use "Smith" to place this citation in its proper place in the bibliography.
  • If your book had two authors, it would be cited as "Smith, Josie, and Roberta George." Therefore, it would still be alphabetized under "Smith," unless Roberta George was listed first in the book. Use the title page as your guide. [7] X Research source

Step 2 Alphabetize the editor's name on anthologies.

  • For instance, if the editor's name was Jess Jacob, you would alphabetize the entry under Jacob, Jess.

Step 3 Look at the title if the book has no author.

  • For instance, if the title of the resource is "Cats and Their Sleeping Habits," you would file it under "Cats."

Step 4 List works by the same author according to style guidelines.

  • APA style . Create a normal APA style bibliography entry for each of the works, but place them in the order that they were published. For example, if one work was published in 1993 and another in 1997, then the 1993 work would come first.
  • MLA style . Start with a normal works cited page entry for the author’s work that comes first in the alphabet. For example, Pride and Prejudice would come before Sense and Sensibility in a list of works by Jane Austen. Then, start a new entry right after this entry, but begin it with two hyphens instead of listing the author’s last and first name again.

Alphabetizing the Bibliography

Step 1 Get your citations in order.

  • For instance, a basic citation in MLA will look something like this one: Smith, George. How Cats Behave. New York: Cat Publishing House, 1989. Print. [10] X Research source
  • In this instance, the author's name is George Smith. "How Cats Behave" is the title. "New York" is the city it was published in, and "Cat Publishing House" is the publisher, while "1989" is the year it was published. "Print" is the format it was published in.
  • In Chicago Style, this citation would look this way in the bibliography: Smith, George. How Cats Behave. New York: Cat Publishing House, 1989. The basic style is fairly similar to MLA in the bibliography. [11] X Research source
  • The same citation would look like this in APA: Smith, G. (1989). How Cats Behave. New York: Cat Publishing House. Notice that this citation only uses the first initial of the author's name and moves the publication date closer to the beginning. [12] X Research source

Step 2 Alphabetize manually.

  • Apply the alphabetizing rules as you go. [13] X Research source

Step 4 Sort with the word processing software.

  • You might also need to look under the "Table" menu to find the sort button. It will ask you how you want them sorted. Choose by paragraph and text in ascending order.
  • The list will be sorted alphabetically, but you will need to format the citations with proper indentations and such still.

Step 5 Use a bibliography generator.

  • However, it's important to check your citations when it's done, as these systems are not perfect.

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  • ↑ https://liu.cwp.libguides.com/c.php?g=45846&p=291626
  • ↑ http://www.sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/essaysandletters/bibliography
  • ↑ http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/data/faq/topics/Alphabetizing.html?page=1
  • ↑ https://morningside.libguides.com/APA7/references
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/alphabetize-nonsignificant-words
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/asa_style/references_page_formatting.html
  • ↑ http://www.bibme.org/citation-guide/mla/book
  • ↑ https://columbiacollege-ca.libguides.com/c.php?g=725852&p=5228058
  • ↑ https://libguides.unf.edu/citationguide/samplemla
  • ↑ https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide/citation-guide-1.html
  • ↑ https://libguides.unf.edu/citationguide/apasample
  • ↑ https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/sort-a-list-alphabetically-in-word-4d27ca57-6d64-4229-82f8-a0a1a805d494
  • ↑ http://www.easybib.com/

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How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

An annotated bibliography is an important part of any research document. Let's see how to create one with the help of Microsoft Word.

Sometimes, the value of scholarship is in the documents you create to prove it. Every scholar wishes not to get bogged down by paperwork. But look at it this way—the academic document advertises your credibility and the thoroughness of your research. It is also the Kevlar against plagiarism (and sometimes the cause of it).

Every academic document has its own nuts and bolts. Today, let's talk about an important one— the annotated bibliography .

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to journals, books, articles, and other documents followed by a brief paragraph. The paragraph(s) is a description of the source and how it supports your paper.

It is the one document that can make your and your professor's life easier as you end your research paper with a flourish.

The Annotated Bibliography: Let's Define It

It's important not to confuse an annotated bibliography with a regular bibliography or works cited.

A regular bibliography is simply a list of source citations. Nothing more. The screen below is an example of a regular bibliography. As you can see, it doesn't go into deeper detail about the books or sources mentioned.

Bibliography

An annotated bibliography has a few more parts to it. It is easy to get the idea from the meaning of the word “annotation”. According to Merriam-Webster, an annotation is:

A note added to a text, book, drawing, etc., as a comment or explanation.

Here's what a common annotated bibliography looks like. I am sure you can instantly make out the extra parts that go into framing it.

Annotated Bibliography

As you can see, the sample above starts with the usual bibliographic citation. Then, it includes a summary and a clear evaluation of the source you used for researching your topic. The intent behind adding your own summary and analysis after the primary or secondary source is to define the topic area and how it applies to your research. You have to add an annotation each time that you create a new source.

It is a lot of work. But this effort from you helps the reader find useful information at a glance. It tells the reader how each borrowed information has helped the progress of the paper. And, it offers everyone a window into your thinking behind the topic you have selected.

Using Word to Create an Annotated Bibliography

The easiest way to create an annotated bibliography in Microsoft Word? Use a template to save time.

But it is always better to create one from scratch and sharpen your research writing skills in the process. It is not difficult, so don't hold yourself back. You have to keep in mind the style of the documentation required for your research. There are distinguishing differences between the APA, AMA, and MLA Styles.

I am going to follow the MLA (Modern Language Association) Style and show how to create a well-formatted document in Microsoft Word in five basic steps.

1. Set Up Your Word Document . Go to Ribbon > Layout > Margins > Normal (1-inch margins on all sides).

Set Margins

2. Set the font. MLA recommends a serif font (e.g., Times New Roman). Go to Home > Font and choose Times New Roman and 12 pt . Also, go to the Paragraph group and choose 2.0 for double-spaced line settings.

Start the Annotated Bibliography

3. Choose the location. An annotated bibliography begins on a new page that follows the end of your research sections. Type “Annotated Bibliography” at the top and center-align it on the page. It should be capitalized and centered—not bolded or underlined.

4. Choose your sources. Research and record the information that pertains to your topic. A properly formatted citation comes first, and you have to cite your source according to the MLA Style.

The MLA citation style for a book follows this sample sequence:

Author, A.A. Write the Title of Work in Italics . Publisher City, State: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium.

Example: Smith, J. Just a Good Book That You Can Cite . New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Print.

The citation is the most important part—so do follow the format religiously by following the style format guide. There are many online sources that cover the popular citation styles in more detail.

5. Indent the second line. The second line of the citation uses a hanging indent to offset half-an-inch from the left margin. Just hit enter at the end of the first line and then press the Tab key to create the hanging indent. You can also adjust it with the hanging indent marker on the ruler. So, your citation will look like this:

Set indent

As you can see above, each individual citation will start flush from the 1-inch margin. But everything from the second line will be offset 0.5 inches to the right.

To set the hanging indents, you can also go to Ribbon > Paragraph > Click on the Paragraph settings arrow to display the dialog box. Under Indentation , click on Special > Hanging . By default, the hanging indent is set to 0.5 inches.

Paragraph Setting

Microsoft Word does not always like to space things properly. So, you might have to tweak it by hand and indent everything from the second line onward.

Use Microsoft Word's Bibliography Tool

Microsoft Word has a built-in bibliography tool you can use to manage your citations. On the Ribbon , go to the References tab.

In the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style . This looks slightly different on Microsoft Word for Mac, but can be found in the same area.

Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source, e.g., MLA.

Choose a citation style

Select the location where you want to start the citation. Then, click Insert Citation .

Two options are available in the dropdown menu.

Insert sources

  • You can add the source information for the citation.
  • You can also add a placeholder to create a citation and fill in the source information later.

If you choose Add New Source , enter all the citation details in the Create Source box. Click OK .

Create Citation Source

You can preview the citation in the Manage Sources dialog box.

Microsoft Word also helps you manage your long list of sources. The Office Support page also explains the nitty-gritty of bibliographies.

You can also use online citation generators, though there is more value in doing it yourself. As in everything, practice makes perfect. If you are a Word newbie, take time to learn all the tricks the Office suite has up its sleeve . And remember, automatic citation apps can make bibliographies easier to write.

If you're trying to create an annotated bibliography on Windows for Mac, then you'll be relieved to hear that the process is almost identical.

Write the Annotation

Just to remind you again: the annotation begins below the citation. The annotated text is also indented below the citation. The first line of the citation that begins with the author's last name is the only text that is flush left in the entire bibliography.

The paragraphs you include will depend on the aim of your bibliography. Some annotations may summarize, some may analyze a source, while some may offer an opinion on the ideas cited. Some annotations may include all three paragraphs. In brief: it can be descriptive, analytical, or critical. But it follows a specific order…

  • The first paragraph is a summary of the source.
  • The second paragraph is an evaluation of the source.
  • The last paragraph can look into the relevance of the source material for the research.

In the MLA Style, annotated bibliographies have to be arranged alphabetically according to the last names of the first author mentioned in each of the citations. So, just copy-paste each annotation in the proper order.

A Few Resources for the MLA Style

One of the best videos I could find on YouTube that explains the entire process in detail comes from Columbus State Library.

It's also useful to keep these two official documentation sites bookmarked.

  • The APA Style
  • The MLA Style Center

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a useful resource for understanding style formats quickly. Lastly, if you need to cite a YouTube video in MLA Style , then this guide could be helpful.

Is Writing an Annotated Bibliography Hard?

The research is the hard part. Don't make turning your research into the desired format harder than it should be. It really isn't. Academicians have turned it into something mystical!

Just pay attention to the little details. If you are used to the APA Style, a move to MLA Style can spark mistakes. That could be the difference between a pat on the back or a red mark.

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography

  • The Annotated Bibliography
  • Fair Use of this Guide

Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

The Process

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document

For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources . For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.

Choosing the Correct Citation Style

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page .

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:

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

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 9th edition, 2021) for the journal citation. For additional annotation guidance from MLA, see 5.132: Annotated Bibliographies .

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. 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.

Versión española

Tambíen disponible en español: Cómo Preparar una Bibliografía Anotada

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If you wish to use any or all of the content of this Guide please visit our Research Guides Use Conditions page for details on our Terms of Use and our Creative Commons license.

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  • Last Updated: Sep 29, 2022 11:09 AM
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APA 7th Edition Guide

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Creating an Annotated Bibliography

  • What is an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an Annotation

Formatting an annotated bibliography.

  • Resources and Tools
  • Creating an Annotated Bibliography Video

Components of an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an APA reference list that includes a brief summary and analysis -- the annotation --  under the reference entry.  

An annotated bibliography includes:

  • APA Title page
  • Pages are numbered beginning with title page
  • References centered and bolded at top of page
  • Entries listed in alphabetical order
  • Annotations begin under its associated reference
  • Annotations are indented 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • The entire document is double spaced; no extra space between entries

Example of an annotated bibliography entry:

how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

An  an n otated bibliography is composed of the full APA reference for a source followed by notes and commentary about that so urce. T he word  “annotate” means “critical or explanatory notes” and the word “bibliography” means “a list of sources”.  Annotation s are meant to be critical in addition to being descriptive.

Annotations are generally between five to seven sentences in length and appear directly under the APA reference.  The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inch from the left margin and lines up with the hanging indent of the APA reference.

Use the question prompts below as a guide when writing annotations:

• 2 to 4 sentences to  summarize   the main idea(s) of the source.

     - What are the main arguments?

     - What is the point of this book/article?

     - What topics are covered?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  assess   and  evaluate   the source.

     - How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?

     - Is this information reliable? current?

     - Is the author credible? have the background to write on this topic?

     - Is the source objective or biased?

• 1 or 2 sentences to  reflect   on the source.

     - Was this source helpful to you?

     - How can you use this source for your research project?

     - Has it changed how you think about your topic?

  • a title page, and
  • the annotated bibliography which begins on its own page with the word References bolded and centered at the top of the page.

Each entry begins with an APA reference for the resource with the annotation appearing directly beneath. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

Entries are listed in alphabetical order. The entire document is typed on one of the six approved font styles and sizes and is double spaced.  There is no additional space between entires.

Consider using Academic Writer or NoodleTools to create and format your annotated bibliography.  

how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

APA Citation Style Resources and Tools

Apa academic writer.

Use the tools in the  References tab to create APA references for the resources in your annotated bibliography.  The form includes a text box for your annotation.  You can create your title page and assemble your annotated bibliography in the Write tab in this authoritative resource.

  • APA Academic Writer This link opens in a new window Formerly APA Style Central, Academic Writer is a digital library of quick APA guides and tutorials: - Learn - view videos and tutorials, test your APA knowledge with quizzes, and view sample papers, references, tables, and figures. - Reference - view tutorials, search APA dictionaries, develop research ideas, plan and track your research, and manage your references. - Write - use templates to write papers (includes step-by-step help), and work on saved papers. (Must create a personal account to use.)

Create and format your annotated bibliography in NoodleTools .  Find information on how to create an account, create APA references, and creating and formatting an annotated bibliography in the NoodleTools Guide.

This video below provides an overview of how to create an annotated bibliography including evaluating resources, writing annotations, creating APA references, and formatting the final document in the APA style. 

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Annotated Bibliography Breakdown

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Stem Cell Research: An Annotated Bibliography

Holland, Suzanne. The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy . Boston: MIT P, 2001.

This is the annotation of the above source, which is formatted according to MLA 2016 (8 th ed.) guidelines for the bibliographic information listed above. If one were really writing an annotation for this source, one would offer a brief summary of what this book says about stem cell research.

After a brief summary, it would be appropriate to assess this source and offer some criticisms of it. Does it seem like a reliable and current source? Why? Is the research biased or objective? Are the facts well documented? Who is the author? Is she qualified in this subject? Is this source scholarly, popular, some of both?

The length of your annotation will depend on the assignment or on the purpose of your annotated bibliography. After summarizing and assessing, you can now reflect on this source. How does it fit into your research? Is this a helpful resource? Too scholarly? Not scholarly enough? Too general/specific? Since "stem cell research" is a very broad topic, has this source helped you to narrow your topic?

Senior, K. "Extending the Ethical Boundaries of Stem Cell Research." Trends in Molecular Medicine , vol. 7, 2001, pp. 5-6.

Not all annotations have to be the same length. For example, this source is a very short scholarly article. It may only take a sentence or two to summarize. Even if you are using a book, you should only focus on the sections that relate to your topic.

Not all annotated bibliographies assess and reflect; some merely summarize. That may not be the most helpful for you, but, if this is an assignment, you should always ask your instructor for specific guidelines.

Wallace, Kelly. "Bush Stands Pat on Stem Cell Policy." CNN . 13 Aug. 2001.

Using a variety of sources can help give you a broader picture of what is being said about your topic. You may want to investigate how scholarly sources are treating this topic differently than more popular sources. But again, if your assignment is to only use scholarly sources, then you will probably want to avoid magazines and popular web sites.

The bibliographic information above is proper MLA format (use whatever style is appropriate in your field) and the annotations are in paragraph form. Note also that the entries are alphabetized by the first word in the bibliographic entry. If you are writing an annotated bibliography with many sources, it may be helpful to divide the sources into categories. For example, if putting together an extensive annotated bibliography for stem cell research, it might be best to divide the sources into categories such as ethical concerns, scholarly analyses, and political ramifications.

For more examples, a quick search at a library or even on the Internet should produce several examples of annotated bibliographies in your area.

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Information on Annotated Bibliographies can be found in Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.)

  • Title page, page numbers, font style and size, etc. See Format basics
  • Alphabetical with hanging indents etc. See Citations: references
  • The annotation - the notes you have about the source - appear in a new paragraph below its reference entry, indented 0.5 inches from the left margin
  • Annotated bibliography example To use as a template, open the document with Word, replace the text with your own but keep the formatting intact.
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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Annotated Bibliographies

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain why annotated bibliographies are useful for researchers, provide an explanation of what constitutes an annotation, describe various types of annotations and styles for writing them, and offer multiple examples of annotated bibliographies in the MLA, APA, and CBE/CSE styles of citation.

Introduction

Welcome to the wonderful world of annotated bibliographies! You’re probably already familiar with the need to provide bibliographies, reference pages, and works cited lists to credit your sources when you do a research paper. An annotated bibliography includes descriptions and explanations of your listed sources beyond the basic citation information you usually provide.

Why do an annotated bibliography?

One of the reasons behind citing sources and compiling a general bibliography is so that you can prove you have done some valid research to back up your argument and claims. Readers can refer to a citation in your bibliography and then go look up the material themselves. When inspired by your text or your argument, interested researchers can access your resources. They may wish to double check a claim or interpretation you’ve made, or they may simply wish to continue researching according to their interests. But think about it: even though a bibliography provides a list of research sources of all types that includes publishing information, how much does that really tell a researcher or reader about the sources themselves?

An annotated bibliography provides specific information about each source you have used. As a researcher, you have become an expert on your topic: you have the ability to explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them. Think of your paper as part of a conversation with people interested in the same things you are; the annotated bibliography allows you to tell readers what to check out, what might be worth checking out in some situations, and what might not be worth spending the time on. It’s kind of like providing a list of good movies for your classmates to watch and then going over the list with them, telling them why this movie is better than that one or why one student in your class might like a particular movie better than another student would. You want to give your audience enough information to understand basically what the movies are about and to make an informed decision about where to spend their money based on their interests.

What does an annotated bibliography do?

A good annotated bibliography:

  • encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas.
  • proves you have read and understand your sources.
  • establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.
  • situates your study and topic in a continuing professional conversation.
  • provides a way for others to decide whether a source will be helpful to their research if they read it.
  • could help interested researchers determine whether they are interested in a topic by providing background information and an idea of the kind of work going on in a field.

What elements might an annotation include?

  • Bibliography according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
  • Explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work—basically, its thesis—which shows among other things that you have read and thoroughly understand the source.
  • Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
  • Comments on the worth, effectiveness, and usefulness of the work in terms of both the topic being researched and/or your own research project.
  • The point of view or perspective from which the work was written. For instance, you may note whether the author seemed to have particular biases or was trying to reach a particular audience.
  • Relevant links to other work done in the area, like related sources, possibly including a comparison with some of those already on your list. You may want to establish connections to other aspects of the same argument or opposing views.

The first four elements above are usually a necessary part of the annotated bibliography. Points 5 and 6 may involve a little more analysis of the source, but you may include them in other kinds of annotations besides evaluative ones. Depending on the type of annotation you use, which this handout will address in the next section, there may be additional kinds of information that you will need to include.

For more extensive research papers (probably ten pages or more), you often see resource materials grouped into sub-headed sections based on content, but this probably will not be necessary for the kinds of assignments you’ll be working on. For longer papers, ask your instructor about their preferences concerning annotated bibliographies.

Did you know that annotations have categories and styles?

Decisions, decisions.

As you go through this handout, you’ll see that, before you start, you’ll need to make several decisions about your annotations: citation format, type of annotation, and writing style for the annotation.

First of all, you’ll need to decide which kind of citation format is appropriate to the paper and its sources, for instance, MLA or APA. This may influence the format of the annotations and bibliography. Typically, bibliographies should be double-spaced and use normal margins (you may want to check with your instructor, since they may have a different style they want you to follow).

MLA (Modern Language Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic MLA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • MLA documentation is generally used for disciplines in the humanities, such as English, languages, film, and cultural studies or other theoretical studies. These annotations are often summary or analytical annotations.
  • Title your annotated bibliography “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Following MLA format, use a hanging indent for your bibliographic information. This means the first line is not indented and all the other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • Begin your annotation immediately after the bibliographic information of the source ends; don’t skip a line down unless you have been told to do so by your instructor.

APA (American Psychological Association)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic APA bibliography formatting and rules.

  • Natural and social sciences, such as psychology, nursing, sociology, and social work, use APA documentation. It is also used in economics, business, and criminology. These annotations are often succinct summaries.
  • Annotated bibliographies for APA format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References” designation.
  • Like MLA, APA uses a hanging indent: the first line is set flush with the left margin, and all other lines are indented four spaces (you may ask your instructor if it’s okay to tab over instead of using four spaces).
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line.
  • The entire annotation is indented an additional two spaces, so that means each of its lines will be six spaces from the margin (if your instructor has said that it’s okay to tab over instead of using the four spaces rule, indent the annotation two more spaces in from that point).

CBE (Council of Biology Editors)/CSE (Council of Science Editors)

See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for basic CBE/CSE bibliography formatting and rules.

  • CBE/CSE documentation is used by the plant sciences, zoology, microbiology, and many of the medical sciences.
  • Annotated bibliographies for CBE/CSE format do not require a special title. Use the usual “References,” “Cited References,” or “Literature Cited,” and set it flush with the left margin.
  • Bibliographies for CSE in general are in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the paper.
  • When using the name-year system, as in MLA and APA, the first line of each entry is set flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines, including the annotation, are indented three or four spaces.
  • When using the citation-sequence method, each entry begins two spaces after the number, and every line, including the annotation, will be indented to match the beginning of the entry, or may be slightly further indented, as in the case of journals.
  • After the bibliographic citation, drop down to the next line to begin the annotation, but don’t skip an extra line. The entire annotation follows the indentation of the bibliographic entry, whether it’s N-Y or C-S format.
  • Annotations in CBE/CSE are generally a smaller font size than the rest of the bibliographic information.

After choosing a documentation format, you’ll choose from a variety of annotation categories presented in the following section. Each type of annotation highlights a particular approach to presenting a source to a reader. For instance, an annotation could provide a summary of the source only, or it could also provide some additional evaluation of that material.

In addition to making choices related to the content of the annotation, you’ll also need to choose a style of writing—for instance, telescopic versus paragraph form. Your writing style isn’t dictated by the content of your annotation. Writing style simply refers to the way you’ve chosen to convey written information. A discussion of writing style follows the section on annotation types.

Types of annotations

As you now know, one annotation does not fit all purposes! There are different kinds of annotations, depending on what might be most important for your reader to learn about a source. Your assignments will usually make it clear which citation format you need to use, but they may not always specify which type of annotation to employ. In that case, you’ll either need to pick your instructor’s brain a little to see what they want or use clue words from the assignment itself to make a decision. For instance, the assignment may tell you that your annotative bibliography should give evidence proving an analytical understanding of the sources you’ve used. The word analytical clues you in to the idea that you must evaluate the sources you’re working with and provide some kind of critique.

Summary annotations

There are two kinds of summarizing annotations, informative and indicative.

Summarizing annotations in general have a couple of defining features:

  • They sum up the content of the source, as a book report might.
  • They give an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and note the resulting conclusion.
  • They do not judge the work they are discussing. Leave that to the critical/evaluative annotations.
  • When appropriate, they describe the author’s methodology or approach to material. For instance, you might mention if the source is an ethnography or if the author employs a particular kind of theory.

Informative annotation

Informative annotations sometimes read like straight summaries of the source material, but they often spend a little more time summarizing relevant information about the author or the work itself.

Indicative annotation

Indicative annotation is the second type of summary annotation, but it does not attempt to include actual information from the argument itself. Instead, it gives general information about what kinds of questions or issues are addressed by the work. This sometimes includes the use of chapter titles.

Critical/evaluative

Evaluative annotations don’t just summarize. In addition to tackling the points addressed in summary annotations, evaluative annotations:

  • evaluate the source or author critically (biases, lack of evidence, objective, etc.).
  • show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
  • explain how researching this material assisted your own project.

Combination

An annotated bibliography may combine elements of all the types. In fact, most of them fall into this category: a little summarizing and describing, a little evaluation.

Writing style

Ok, next! So what does it mean to use different writing styles as opposed to different kinds of content? Content is what belongs in the annotation, and style is the way you write it up. First, choose which content type you need to compose, and then choose the style you’re going to use to write it

This kind of annotated bibliography is a study in succinctness. It uses a minimalist treatment of both information and sentence structure, without sacrificing clarity. Warning: this kind of writing can be harder than you might think.

Don’t skimp on this kind of annotated bibliography. If your instructor has asked for paragraph form, it likely means that you’ll need to include several elements in the annotation, or that they expect a more in-depth description or evaluation, for instance. Make sure to provide a full paragraph of discussion for each work.

As you can see now, bibliographies and annotations are really a series of organized steps. They require meticulous attention, but in the end, you’ve got an entire testimony to all the research and work you’ve done. At the end of this handout you’ll find examples of informative, indicative, evaluative, combination, telescopic, and paragraph annotated bibliography entries in MLA, APA, and CBE formats. Use these examples as your guide to creating an annotated bibliography that makes you look like the expert you are!

MLA Example

APA Example

CBE Example

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bell, I. F., and J. Gallup. 1971. A Reference Guide to English, American, and Canadian Literature . Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzburg. 1991. Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing , 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books.

Center for Information on Language Teaching, and The English Teaching Information Center of the British Council. 1968. Language-Teaching Bibliography . Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Engle, Michael, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. 2012. “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography.” Olin & Uris Libraries. Cornell University. Last updated September 25, 2012. https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/content/how-prepare-annotated-bibliography.

Gibaldi, Joseph. 2009. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Huth, Edward. 1994. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers . New York: University of Cambridge.

Kilborn, Judith. 2004. “MLA Documentation.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated March 16, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/research/mla.html.

Spatt, Brenda. 1991. Writing from Sources , 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s.

University of Kansas. 2018. “Bibliographies.” KU Writing Center. Last updated April 2018. http://writing.ku.edu/bibliographies .

University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2019. “Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/annotatedbibliography/ .

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography - APA Style (7th Edition)

What is an annotation, how is an annotation different from an abstract, what is an annotated bibliography, types of annotated bibliographies, descriptive or informative, analytical or critical, to get started.

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, website, or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, website, or other type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations.

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract; it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question and its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

For example:

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulties many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a legal nurse consulting business. Pointing out issues of work-life balance, as well as the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, the author offers their personal experience as a learning tool. The process of becoming an entrepreneur is not often discussed in relation to nursing, and rarely delves into only the first year of starting a new business. Time management, maintaining an existing job, decision-making, and knowing yourself in order to market yourself are discussed with some detail. The author goes on to describe how important both the nursing professional community will be to a new business, and the importance of mentorship as both the mentee and mentor in individual success that can be found through professional connections. The article’s focus on practical advice for nurses seeking to start their own business does not detract from the advice about universal struggles of entrepreneurship makes this an article of interest to a wide-ranging audience.

An analytical or critical annotation not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.

Analytical or critical annotations will most likely be required when writing for a college-level course.

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulty many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a nurse consulting business. While the article focuses on issues of work-life balance, the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, marketing, and other business issues the author’s offer of only their personal experience is brief with few or no alternative solutions provided. There is no mention throughout the article of making use of other research about starting a new business and being successful. While relying on the anecdotal advice for their list of issues, the author does reference other business resources such as the Small Business Administration to help with business planning and professional organizations that can help with mentorships. The article is a good resource for those wanting to start their own legal nurse consulting business, a good first advice article even. However, entrepreneurs should also use more business research studies focused on starting a new business, with strategies against known or expected pitfalls and issues new businesses face, and for help on topics the author did not touch in this abbreviated list of lessons learned.

Now you are ready to begin writing your own annotated bibliography.

  • Choose your sources - Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the items - Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • The purpose of the work
  • A summary of its content
  • Information about the author(s)
  • For what type of audience the work is written
  • Its relevance to the topic
  • Any special or unique features about the material
  • Research methodology
  • The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he or she prefers.

Please see the  APA Examples page  for more information on citing in APA style.

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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources one has used or intends to use for a research project. It differs from a regular bibliography in that an annotated bibliography includes a summary or evaluation of each source. Annotated bibliographies serve as great preparation for research projects because you will have a better idea of what each source on your bibliography is about and how it is relevant to your work.

Style Guide

An annotated bibliography contains two parts, a citation of the source and a short summary of the source.  It may also include a statement from the individual using the source about why this source is relevant to his/her work. Typically your professor will determine the length and necessary content for annotations. As with a standard bibliography or works cited page, an annotated bibliography should list the citations in alphabetical order and the document should be double spaced. Use a hanging indent so that all lines after the first line of the citation are indented. This includes the entirety of the annotation; the author’s last name is the only text that should be left aligned.

Other helpful information with examples

APA: Creating APA Style Annotated Bibliographies - Bethel University

Chicago: Creating an annotated bibliography in Chicago style - Eastern Nazarene College

MLA: Annotated Bibliography Samples - CSU Northridge Oviatt Library

ASA: Creating an annotated bibliography in ASA style - Eastern Nazarene College

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL):  Annotated Bibliography

Definitions

Samples (MLA, APA, Chicago)

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How to write an annotated bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography or annotated bib is a bibliography (a list of books or other works) that includes descriptive and evaluative comments about the sources cited in your paper. These comments are also known as annotations .

How do I format my annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation .

The citation should be formatted in the bibliographic style that your professor has requested for the assignment. Some common citation styles include APA , MLA , and Chicago . For more information, see the Style Guides page.

Generally, an annotation is approximately 100-300 words in length (one paragraph). However, your professor may have different expectations so it is recommended that you clarify the assignment guidelines.

An annotation may include the following information:

  • A brief summary of the source
  • The source’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Its conclusions
  • Why the source is relevant in your field of study
  • Its relationships to other studies in the field
  • An evaluation of the research methodology (if applicable)
  • Information about the author’s background
  • Your personal conclusions about the source

MLA style format (8th ed.)

Hanging Indents are required for citations in the bibliography, as shown below. That is, the first line of the citation starts at the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented 4 spaces.  The bibliography is double-spaced, both within the citation and between them. The annotation appends the entry unless complete sentences are used, then a line space is added and the annotation begins with a paragraph indent, as shown in the example below.

Lozier, Jeffrey D., et al. "Predicting the Distribution of Sasquatch in Western North America: Anything Goes with Ecological Niche Modelling." Journal of Biogeography , vol. 36, no.9, 2009, pp. 1623-1627. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40305930. Accessed 14 June 2016.    This paper critiques the use of Ecological Niche Models (ENM) and species distribution by performing a tongue-in-cheek examination of the distribution of the fictional Sasquatch, based on reports from an online Bigfoot archive.Lozier's paper powerfully demonstrates the issues faced by ENM, when reports come from non-specialists, and highlights key problems with sourcing data from unmediated online environments. The author neglects to compare the reliability of the many wildlife databases with the single Bigfoot database, as well as other key issues; however in closing, the paper briefly mentions that many issues lie outside the scope of the short article. Lozier's paper advises professionals in fields using ENM to carefully assess the source of the data on which the model is based and concludes that the distribution of rare species in particular is often over-reported to misidentification.

APA style format (7th ed.)

Refer to Section 9.51, p. 307 and Figure 9.3, p. 308 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. [ print ] for detailed information on annotated bibliographies.

The following are general guidelines. Check with your instructor for

References follow the same alphabetical order as entries in a reference list [Section 9.43-9.44, p. 303]. The annotation is a new paragraph below its reference entry and follows block quotation format [Section 8.27, pp. 272-273]. Should the annotation have multiple paragraphs, the first line of the second and subsequent paragraphs are indented an additional 0.5in.

D’Elia, G., Jorgensen, C., Woelfel, J., & Rodger, E. J. (2002). The impact of the Internet on public library use: An analysis of the current consumer market for library and Internet services. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53 (10), 808-820. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.10102 In this study, the researchers examined if the Internet had affected public library usage in the United States. This study is distinct because its researchers surveyed library nonusers as well as   users. The major finding was that 75.2% of people who used the Internet also used the public library. However, the researchers surveyed only 3000 individuals in a population of millions; therefore, these results may not be statistically significant. However, this study is relevant because it provides future researchers with a methodology for determining the impact of the Internet on public library usage.

Additional resources

Writing an annotated bibliography From Concordia University

How to prepare an annotated bibliography From Cornell University

Writing an annotated bibliography From University of Toronto

Annotated bibliographies From The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography in Chicago/Turabian Style

Published on October 15, 2019 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 5, 2022.

While a standard Chicago style bibliography provides publication details of your sources, an annotated bibliography also provides a summary (and often an evaluation) of each source.

Turabian style , a version of Chicago style specifically designed for students and researchers, provides formatting guidelines for an annotated bibliography. A typical entry might look like this:

Kenny, Anthony. A New History of Western Philosophy: In Four Parts . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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Table of contents

How to write annotations, how to format an annotated bibliography.

The purpose of annotations is to give the reader relevant information about each source you have consulted. There are two main types of annotation.

Descriptive annotations simply describe your sources, briefly summarizing their arguments and ideas . They are useful for keeping a record of your reading and giving a quick overview of sources related to your topic. 

Evaluative annotations go into more detail and provide your own perspective on each source. For example, you may evaluate your sources by:

  • assessing the strength of the author’s arguments.
  • describing the ways in which the source is helpful or unhelpful to your own research.
  • evaluating the evidence presented in the source, discussing the credibility .

Check the requirements of your assignment to find out whether you need to write descriptive or evaluative annotations.

How long should annotations be?

Annotations can vary in length according to the approach taken and the length of the source. You may write a couple of sentences describing the argument of an essay, or several paragraphs summarizing and evaluating a book .

A good guideline is to aim for 50 to 200 words for each source. Consult your instructor to check how long your annotated bibliography should be and how many sources you need to include.

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Each entry starts with a Chicago style citation , which gives full publication details of the source. The citation is formatted the same as a normal bibliography entry:

  • Single-spaced
  • Each line after the first indented ( hanging indent )
  • Organized in alphabetical order by author last name

The annotation appears on a new line directly after the source citation. The whole annotation is indented, to make it clear when the annotation ends and a new source appears.

According to Turabian guidelines, annotations should be formatted the same as the main text of any paper:

  • Double-spaced
  • Left-aligned
  • Indent the first line of each new paragraph

Chicago and Turabian annotated bibliography: example of an annotation

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / MLA Annotated Bibliography Format

MLA Annotated Bibliography Format

The mla style center provides the following guidance for formatting an mla annotated bibliography:.

  • Title your reference page as “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Include annotations after the full, listed reference.
  • Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.
  • If you do exceed one paragraph, indent each new paragraph but do not add extra space between them.
  • For more information on writing an annotation, visit the general annotated bibliography guide.

Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:

Book example

Website example.

  • Using-the-EasyBib-annotation-tool

Troubleshooting

Here are general mla bibliography format guidelines that also apply:.

  • Organize sources alphabetically by author or title, by the publication date, or by subject. Ask your instructor how they would like this organized if they haven’t provided specific guidance.
  • The entire bibliography MLA page or pages should be double-spaced.
  • Have 1-inch margins around the page.

If you don’t need to include annotations with your citations, this guide on creating a regular MLA works cited page can help!

MLA annotated bibliography

Forsyth, Mark. The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase . Penguin Books, 2014.

The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.

Here is another annotated bibliography example in MLA for an article on the MLA website.

example of an MLA annotated bibliography entry for a website

Citation with annotation:

“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center , The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/.

This article offers brief and clear directions for MLA formatting of a bibliography with annotations. Citing James Harner’s On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography , it provides guidelines for writing annotations that can be applied to either paraphrase or commentary form. It also demonstrates how writing annotations can benefit students who are tasked with researching a subject and offers instruction on the organization of entries and acceptable page titles. While the advice is tailored to respond to a question posed by an instructor, students and researchers may also benefit from the guidance that the MLA provided.

Citation without annotation:

The following is an example MLA format Works Cited citation for an article on the MLA website. This MLA bibliography example shows what the entry will look like without an annotation:

“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center, Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/

Note that this MLA bibliography does not contain an introductory paragraph. If you are including a prefatory section, it should reside between the page title and the initial entry.

The MLA follows the rules set forth in James L. Harner’s On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography , 2nd edition, which they published in 2000. Harner submits that the typical organization for this type of work “…consists of three parts: prefatory matter, entries, and an index” (7). Following this, he adds, however, that “an electronic bibliography rarely includes an index” (7).

The “prefatory matter” functions similarly to an introduction, and “typically consists of an introduction, an explanation of editorial procedures, acknowledgements, and separate lists of abbreviations, major reference sources searched, and the subject author’s works” (7). He expands on this, “You must explain – and, if necessary, offer a rationale for – the taxonomy, the kinds of works included and excluded, and the chronological span (especially terminal date) of scholarship covered” (7).

Using the EasyBib annotation tool

If you create your citations using the EasyBib citation generator, then you can also access the annotation tool!

When you create a new or edit an existing citation, you’ll review a citation form that lists every piece of information for the citation. At the bottom of this form is a section called “More options.” In this section, simply click the “Add annotation” text to open the tool. Copy and paste your annotation here, complete your citation, and both the citation and annotation will be automatically formatted together!

Annotated bibliography tool

Always consult your instructor

Your instructor or school may have additional or different requirements for how you format and organize this page. If your teacher or professor requires an introduction, they may identify specific points to include or exclude which deviate from Harner’s definition, so it’s essential that you verify your understanding of the assignment before beginning.

If you are required to share your references in a manner other than in MLA bibliography format, there is also a guide on  APA annotated bibliographies .

Solution #1: How do I annotate a source that is an image or video?

To annotate a visual source like an image or video, describe the important elements of your visual source to your reader as you would with a textual source.

If it is a painting, for example, you do not need to describe every color you see or the mood of the painting, but it may be important to include the artistic movement of which it is a part of, the style of painting, the subject, the culture of origin, or any information about the artist.

Keep in mind the style of annotation you are using for your works-cited annotations, whether you are providing more commentary on sources or simply summarizing them. Maintain the style of annotation consistent for all your annotations. Commentary will include more information about why a source is relevant to your paper, whereas a summary will more plainly describe the source.

van Gogh, Vincent. The Starry Night . 1889, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

MoMA.org ,   https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/vincent-van-gogh

-the-starry-night-1889/

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is a depiction of the night sky seen above the Saint-Paul mental asylum in Saint-Remy, France, where van Gogh received care as his mental health waned. van Gogh was born in Holland, but spent significant time in France. The influence of contemporaneous artistic styles such as Impressionism, Pointilism, and Neo-Impressionism can be seen in The Starry Night . The Starry Night combines the observable world with the world of van Gogh’s emotion, memory, and imagination.

Solution #2: How do I annotate a source that is an audio recording, song, or interview?

Annotate your works-cited MLA citation for an audio recording the same way you would for a textual source.

Keep the style of your annotations consistent, whether you are commenting on sources or simply summarizing sources.

Important elements of your audio source to consider in your annotation may include the following elements: the speaker(s) in the recording, where and when the recording was taken, the important members of the band or musicians of a song, or, if it is a clip, the context of the complete recording.

Describe your audio source as best you can in about 4-5 sentences for your annotation.

For example:

Tavernise, Sabrina. “Why Do So Many Traffic Stops Go Wrong?” The Daily , The New York Times,

1 Nov. 2021. Spotify app.

David D. Kirkpatrick, a national correspondent for the New York Times , breaks down years’ worth of investigative journalism from the NYT. Their journalism focused on casualties due to routine traffic stops performed by police nationwide. The NYT’s reporting suggested that many cities and municipalities may rely heavily on revenue generated from traffic tickets, and that officers may be encouraged to make more, even unnecessary, traffic stops. Kirkpatrick also suggested that training may encourage police to use unnecessary force and escalate encounters during traffic stops, as misleading data has been used to teach officers that traffic stops are disproportionately deadly for police.

Solution #3: How long should my annotation be?

An annotation for an MLA works-cited citation should be about a paragraph long. It shouldn’t be a few words or just one sentence.

If your annotation definitely needs to be longer than 4-5 sentences, make a new paragraph and indent it, but do not add any additional space or line breaks between the paragraphs of your annotation.

  • Works Cited

Harner, James L. On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography. 2nd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2000.

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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An annotated bibliography is a list containing complete information of sources (such as journals, books, and reports) cited in the text, along with a note or annotation for each source. It provides a brief description of each source in about 100–150 words. Below is an example of an annotated bibliography:

Annotated bibliography example:

Morritt, Robert D. Beringia: Archaic Migrations into North America . Cambridge Scholars Pub, 2011.

The author studies the migration of cultures from Asia to North America. The connection between the North American Athabaskan language family and Siberia is presented, together with comparisons and examinations of the implications of linguistics from anthropological, archaeological, and folklore perspectives. This book explores the origins of the earliest people in the Americas, including Siberian, Dene, and Navajo Creation myths; linguistic comparisons between Siberian Ket Navajo and Western Apache; and comparisons between indigenous groups that appear to share the same origin.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America . Metropolitan Books, 2009.

In this book, Barbara Ehrenreich shows how harmful the positive thinking movement is, how it means self-blame, victim-blaming, and national denial, inviting disaster. She shows that it wrecks efforts for education, skills, and reforms. The book analyzes how the school of mindless optimism was born, fed the subprime scandal, and has come to infect mainstream corporate management thinking.

An annotated bibliography, which contains a source and a description or an evaluation of a source, is always double-spaced.

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How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

839690 How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for books, articles, documents, etc. on a topic, where each citation is followed by a brief descriptive paragraph (annotation). Annotations summarize and evaluate the source, describing relevance to the topic and quality.

Creating an annotated bibliography in Microsoft Word is simple once you know the steps. This article will walk you through the entire process, from formatting your document to writing your annotations. Follow these steps to easily generate an annotated bibliography in Word that perfectly fits the required formatting.

Step 1: Format the Document

First, open a new blank Word document and set up the formatting:

  • Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt
  • Line Spacing: Double
  • Margins: 1 inch all around
  • Insert page numbers in the top right corner

Next, type a title at the top such as “Annotated Bibliography” or choose a title related to your topic. Hit enter and then type your name, the date, and the course or assignment details if needed.

Step 2: Add Citations & References

The next step is to add citations for your sources. Type each reference in alphabetical order, hitting enter between each one. The specific formatting will vary based on the style guide you are following:

Chicago Format

Be consistent with the formatting to keep your bibliography organized.

Step 3: Write the Annotations

Once all sources are cited, it’s time to write the annotations. Indent the first line of each paragraph instead of only indenting the first line. This creates a hanging indent that allows you to easily match annotations to their citations.

Write a concise paragraph summarizing the key information for each source:

  • Main argument, findings or conclusions
  • Scope and content
  • Relevance to the research topic
  • Any special features like graphs or charts

Annotations should objectively describe the source, including both positive and negative assessments. Use an academic tone and avoid personal pronouns like “I” or “you”.

Step 4: Format the Annotations

Apply consistent paragraph formatting to polish the annotated bibliography:

  • Annotations should be in paragraph form with double spacing between them
  • Use hanging indents for easy visual association with the citations
  • Set paragraph alignment to justified to cleanly fit text to both margins

Step 5: Final Touches

Before completing your annotated bibliography in Word, finish by:

  • Proofreading for spelling/grammar errors
  • Ensuring formatting and style are consistent
  • Confirming annotations match respective citations logically

Following these simple steps will help you efficiently create a properly formatted annotated bibliography in Word to meet any academic need. Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for making annotated bibliographies easy.

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Alphabetize Works Cited List

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Alphabetize Bibliography in ABC Order

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Why do millions of students, academics, and writers worldwide choose our alphabetize app daily? The reason is the simplicity and user-friendly interface we offer. Need a citation alphabetizer list? Just copy and paste your text, manage settings and generate the text. What can be easier to use? We added some settings to our bibliography alphabetizer you may need. For example, choose what removal data should be. It can be HTML formatting in case you need clean text. You may remove duplicates or brackets, add numbers or capitalize some words. We have an ongoing dialogue with our clients and improve the tool based on requests.  StudyCrumb is a leader in providing academic tools like text editors, uppercase to lowercase tool, citation makers, word counter , and other essential things for academia. It is famous as our instrument offers many additional options for students simplifying the whole research process. We know what our clients want, as we also have educational and academic backgrounds. It helped create the alphabetizer generator for any type of complicated tasks and assignments. Try it! Get your custom-sorted list now!

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If you are looking for how to put works cited in alphabetical order, check our FAQ section first. We tried to cover the most critical students' questions.

1. How to put citations in alphabetical order?

To alphabetize citations lists you need our tool. This is the best way to ensure the quality and accuracy of your work. Our alphabetical order machine is simple and you can access it from any place 24/7. Insert your list, manage settings — choose what you need and click the generate button. You will have your alphabetical order citations in a few seconds. All you need to do is to copy it and paste it into your paper.

2. Do I need to register to use Work Cited alphabetical order sorter?

Using the work cited alphabetical order generator, you don't need to register or share any personal data with us. For example, to use an alphabetical order sorter for bibliography, open the website, insert your list of references, manage some settings, and click generate. We ensure the safety of your search. This tool is free and will be accessible in the future.

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StudyCrumb offers you more than just an alphabetizer. We’ve designed a whole bundle of free writing tools that can improve your academic experience. Check them out below!

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IMAGES

  1. How to put bibliography in alphabetical order

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

  2. Annotated Bibliography Template Word

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

  3. How to write an annotated bibliography step-by-step with examples

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

  4. Annotated Bibliography Alphabetical Order

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

  5. 3 Ways to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

  6. Annotated Bibliography Examples & Step-by-Step Writing Guide

    how to put annotated bibliography in alphabetical order in word

VIDEO

  1. How to Write an MLA Annotated Bibliography

  2. How do I put my Bibliography in alphabetical order?

  3. Word: How to Create an Annotated Bibliography

  4. Easiest Bibliography Creator

  5. How To Write An Annotated Bibliography Step By Step?

  6. Introduction to Annotated Bibliography

COMMENTS

  1. How can I quickly and easily alphabetize my References list in Word?

    Answer Select all of the references on your page (do not select the heading on the page: References) On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Sort icon. In the Sort Text dialog box, under Sort by, click Paragraphs and Text, and then click either Ascending. Topics APA Reading and Writing Last Updated Jun 30, 2020 Views 366535

  2. How to Alphabetize a Bibliography: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

    1 Go letter by letter. The first letter indicates where it goes generally in your bibliography. For instance, in "Smith," "S" tells you it goes with the "S"s. Once you get to the "S"s, though, you need to know where "Smith" goes among the other "S"s, so you move on to the next letter, "M."

  3. What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

    To generate a perfectly formatted annotated bibliography, select the source type, fill out the relevant fields, and add your annotation. An example of an annotated source is shown below: Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.

  4. Annotated Bibliographies

    What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is. For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources. Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it.

  5. APA Annotated Bibliography Format

    Use 1-inch page margins on all sides. The entire page should be double-spaced. Title your page, "Annotated Bibliography". Center and bold it. Left-align references. If a reference runs over more than one line, any line (s) that comes after the first should be indented a ½ inch from the left margin.

  6. The Writing Center

    An annotated bibliography is a list of sources on a single topic, with an annotation provided for each source. An annotation is a one or two paragraph summary and/or analysis of an article, book, or other source. Generally, the first paragraph of the annotation provides a summary of the source in direct, clear terms.

  7. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography, With Examples

    Write with Grammarly What is an annotated bibliography? Annotated bibliographies are a type of bibliography with notes from the author on each source. These notes are called "annotations" and generally run around 50-150 words. The notes themselves have a very specific format, depending on the style guide used, as explained below.

  8. How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

    Productivity How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word By Saikat Basu Updated Sep 21, 2021 An annotated bibliography is an important part of any research document. Let's see how to create one with the help of Microsoft Word. Readers like you help support MUO.

  9. The Annotated Bibliography

    The Process Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research. First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.

  10. RasGuides: APA 7th Edition Guide: Annotated Bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is an APA reference list that includes a brief summary and analysis -- the annotation -- under the reference entry. An annotated bibliography includes:

  11. Annotated Bibliography Breakdown

    If you are writing an annotated bibliography with many sources, it may be helpful to divide the sources into categories. For example, if putting together an extensive annotated bibliography for stem cell research, it might be best to divide the sources into categories such as ethical concerns, scholarly analyses, and political ramifications.

  12. Annotated Bibliography

    See Format basics The order of references also follow the same style and order as on a Reference page Alphabetical with hanging indents etc. See Citations: references The annotation - the notes you have about the source - appear in a new paragraph below its reference entry, indented 0.5 inches from the left margin Annotated bibliography example

  13. Annotated Bibliographies

    A good annotated bibliography: encourages you to think critically about the content of the works you are using, their place within a field of study, and their relation to your own research and ideas. proves you have read and understand your sources. establishes your work as a valid source and you as a competent researcher.

  14. Annotated Bibliography Examples for MLA & APA

    Below are the guidelines and rules to be followed while writing an annotated bibliography for APA style: Order your reference entries in alphabetical order, similar to how you would order entries in the reference list. If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a fresh paragraph below the reference entry. ...

  15. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract; it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question and its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

  16. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of sources one has used or intends to use for a research project. It differs from a regular bibliography in that an annotated bibliography includes a summary or evaluation of each source. ... As with a standard bibliography or works cited page, an annotated bibliography should list the citations in ...

  17. MLA Style Annotated Bibliography

    Choose your source type, retrieve the details, and click "Add annotation." Generate accurate MLA citations with Scribbr Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes. Table of contents MLA format for annotated bibliographies

  18. How to write an annotated bibliography

    MLA style format (8th ed.) Hanging Indents are required for citations in the bibliography, as shown below. That is, the first line of the citation starts at the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented 4 spaces. The bibliography is double-spaced, both within the citation and between them. The annotation appends the entry unless complete ...

  19. APA Annotated Bibliography Guide With Examples

    4 Min read You just got the hand of bibliographies, but now your teacher is requesting an APA annotated bibliography. You can feel the sweat beading on your forehead and the panic starting to set in. First of all, don't panic. Creating an annotated bibliography in APA format is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

  20. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography in Chicago/Turabian Style

    The annotation appears on a new line directly after the source citation. The whole annotation is indented, to make it clear when the annotation ends and a new source appears. According to Turabian guidelines, annotations should be formatted the same as the main text of any paper: Double-spaced. Left-aligned.

  21. MLA Annotated Bibliography Format

    The MLA Style Center provides the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography: Title your reference page as "Annotated Bibliography" or "Annotated List of Works Cited.". Include annotations after the full, listed reference. Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.

  22. How to Create an Annotated Bibliography in Microsoft Word

    Creating an annotated bibliography in Microsoft Word is simple once you know the steps. This article will walk you through the entire process, from formatting your document to writing your annotations. Follow these steps to easily generate an annotated bibliography in Word that perfectly fits the required formatting. Step 1: Format the Document

  23. Alphabetizer: Sort List & Bibliography in Alphabetical Order

    It can sort your lists, references, and bibliography items in ABC or XYZ order. It can provide a random list if you run giveaways for social media or need to generate random lists for research. Moreover, our alphabetical list maker can sort lists by the second name even if you have the first name in the list. We are 100% sure that our tool can ...