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ENGL 1213 Composition 2

Research & rhetoric for more advanced expository essays.

Annotated Bibliographies

Organize & Describe Your Sources

You will have an annotated bibiography as one of your assignments in this class. The resources on this page will help you create it.

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation. Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources.


How to Make It

The annotated bibliography is a tool to organize your sources and prepare to write a more extended discussion.

At the undergraduate level, the annotated bibliography is a common assignment to help students dive deeper into the literature of a particular subject.

The structure is simple: You will produce a bibliography following a standard format, similar to a reference list or list of works cited. Accompanying each bibliographic entry are one to three discussion paragraphs.

Each discussion should include the following:

  1. Summary. Summarize the content of each source to demonstrate that you have read and understood it.

  2. Evaluation. Consider the source’s relevancy to your topic. Your annotated bibliography should have a topical focus, so explain how this source fits into that topic.

  3. Criticism. Read the source critically and evaluate the soundness of its data or the reasonableness of its interpretation. How does it compare to other sources on the same subject?

How to Find Sources

For your assignment, you will need primary sources.

Primary sources are peer-reviewed articles, published in academic journals, that present original research.

Most of our research databases are hosted by the company EBSCO and have the same layout:

  • To find primary sources in an EBSCO database, simply conduct a search and then select Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals from the left sidebar after your search results appear.

    Limiters in the left sidebar of an EBSCO database.
    Search limiters as they appear in the left sidebar of an EBSCO database.

    This will limit results to articles from academic journals, but keep in mind that it will exclude academic books, which may also be primary sources.

  • One of the most useful secondary sources is the literature review, an academic publication that summarizes existing knowledge instead of presenting new research. This may or may not be appropriate for your assignment (ask your professor).

    Most of the databases cannot limit to literature reviews automatically. However, you can find them by selecting Advanced Search and following these directions:

    1. Type your search into the first search box as you normally would.

    2. In the second search box, type "literature reviews", including the quotation marks.

    3. From the dropdown menu beside the second search box, select SU Subject Terms.

    4. Run the search. The results should include only articles with Literature reviews as a designated subject term.

    Advanced search in an EBSCO database, showing dropdown menu beside the search bar.
    Using advanced search in an EBSCO database.

How to Format It

Format each entry in standard MLA style.

Your bibliographic citation should have a hanging indent; that is, each entry should have its second line indented one half inch.

Following the bibliographic entry, the annotation should be double-spaced and indented one half inch like a typical paragraph. If the annotation includes more than one paragraph, all paragraphs should be indented.

Research Librarian