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Last Updated: Oct 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Creating an Annotated Bibliography Print Page

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

It's a list of citations to your sources that includes a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph--the annotation--for each source.

Why Annotate?

To inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.


Sample Annotated Bibliography for a Journal Article

IMPORTANT NOTE: This example uses MLA format for the journal citation. It is for general guidance only. Standard MLA practice requires double spacing. Due to limitations in formatting the exact indentions, the spacing between lines, and the relative font sizes are not rendered properly here. Consult the MLA style manual for full formatting instructions. 

Standard sample for formatting an annotated bibliography in MLA format.

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

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.


Credits for content on this page

Information from "What is an annotated bibliography," "How To" and "Sample Annotated Bibliography for a Journal Article" were adpated with permission from:

Olin Library Reference
Research & Learning Services
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA. 



How To

1. Gather books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items.  Choose the works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

2. Cite each book, article, or document using the appropriate style (ALA? MLA? Chicago?)

3. Write a concise paragraph that addresses the relevant questions below (or as directed by your instructor)

  • What are the central themes or ideas from this work?
  • What experience or background qualifies the author as an expert on this topic?
  • Who is this work written for (e.g., the general public, scholars in a specific field of study, or some targeted group)?
  • How does the information here confirm, refute, or add to other works you have cited in your bibliography?
  • What important contribution does this work make to your research topic?



What is an Annotated Bibliography


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