Guidelines for Writing an Annotated Bibliography


The Purpose of writing an annotated bibliography is to gain mastery over the published material concerning your event. It is also to help you figure out where you fit in the dialogue. Think of it this way: you are sitting around the table after a holiday dinner, and your family begins a discussion about politics. You listen for a while, deciding who is making a good argument, who is just blowing hot air, who has no clue about what the others are saying. Then, after making up your mind, you join in, critiquing your relatives’ arguments (which may include whose argument holds together), pointing out their use of unreliable sources, and letting them know what you think. This is what an annotated bibliography does, and this is what scholarly research does.

In academic terms, for some papers in some courses, you will be asked to conduct a “literature review”—a survey of the main trends and issues in the area you are studying. Compiling an annotated bibliography is good preparation for the kinds of writing you will be doing in advanced coursework.

An annotated bibliography contains two major elements: a bibliographic citation and a summary of the source cited.

Below you will find the components that make up a full annotation:

 Provide full, appropriate MLA citation of your source.

 What is the source about? (Who, what, where, when, why, how).

 What is the main argument (author’s position/thesis) of the source?

 What is your assessment of the author’s authority/credibility/reliability?

o Credentials: does the author have academic degrees and or professional experience?

o Institutional affiliation: does the author work for a college/university, government organization,

advocacy group, hospital, or corporation?


 What is your assessment of the value of the source, its seriousness, or professionalism? If the source is an

article, what kind of journal does it appear in? If it is a book, who is the publisher and what kind of publishing

company is it? If the source is a website, who is responsible for the content? Are any of these sources

influenced by an outside entity other than their own affiliates?

 Who is the audience for each of your sources?

 What is the author’s attitude toward his or her subject?

       o Is the author objective and impartial? How can you tell?

       o Is the author subjective and biased? How can you tell?

 What is your assessment of the relevance of the source to your research?

 Finish your annotation by answering one of the following questions:

       o What new knowledge does it add to your research?

       o How does it confirm what you already know?

       o How does it revise what you thought you knew? (eg., I have always thought A, but now I realize B)


Annotated Bibliography Sample

Carol, Ruth. “Hispanic Men in Nursing.” Minority Nurse 1 (2004): 23-27. Print.

This article discusses the challenges and advantages of being a Hispanic male nurse. The main argument of this article is that Hispanic male nurses are needed in the nursing profession to bring diversity into a white, female-dominated field.

The author appears to have a lot of experience with this type of article. She is a freelance writer who specializes in health care issues. Carol uses reliable sources for her article. The interviews used in this article are from professionals in the field of nursing who shared their experiences. This is a serious article that appears in a professional journal. It is aimed at a more scholarly audience that has an understanding of the difficulties of obtaining a degree in the Nursing field. The author does not use an impartial view when discussing this this topic. She appears to be biased toward

introducing more Hispanic men into the Nursing profession. This article is very relevant to my research. It gives me an inside view of what the life of a Hispanic male nurse is like, and it confirmed my belief that it is difficult for Hispanic men to become Nurses. I have always thought that patients preferred a female nurse, but the article does mention that often Hispanic patients, especially males, preferred having a Hispanic male Nurse because of the their cultural viewpoints.


You will write annotations for FIVE sources. Each annotation must address all of the eight components. Note that this information should be relevant to your research, as you will use these sources to compose your final essay.

Annotated Bibliography Checklist

     MLA Citation

     States topic of source

     States argument/thesis of source

     Assesses author credibility

     Assesses the source

     Identifies the target audience

     Discusses author’s attitude toward the subject

     Assesses source relevance answering one of the required questions

     Format/Editing: typed, size 12 Calibri (body) font, 1 inch margins, single space, free of distracting errors.