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Assignment on How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

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Assignment on How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography


How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?  A bibliography is a list of sources that you plan to use in your paper.  In an annotated bibliography, each source is followed by a summary of it and its relevance to your paper topic.  Creating an annotated bibliography ensures that you have found adequate scholarly resources, and that you have read your sources carefully and have a good sense of how they relate to your topic.


Before you Begin

  • Identify and gather the sources that you will use.
  • Read each source and take some general notes on it.
  • Make sure that you know how to cite sources in your bibliography correctly. (Chicago style)


Format of the Annotated Bibliography

  • Each source is listed in correct bibliographic form.
  • Sources are listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
  • Each source is then followed by a summary usually 3-5 sentences (100 to 150 words), but

indeed your summary should be longer than a single sentence or phrase.


What to include in the summary

  • A sentence or two on the general topic or research question that the work addresses.
  • A sentence or two on the thesis or argument of the work.
  • A sentence on the author’s methodology:  What kinds of sources are used? Is it a case study or an overview of scholarship on the subject?  How is the book/article organized?
  • A sentence on how this source is relevant to your paper topic or how it will be helpful to your research and analysis.




Sample Annotated Bibliography (with explanatory comments)

Evans, Richard J. “German Social Democracy and Women’s Suffrage 1891-1918.”  Journal of Contemporary History 15, no. 3 (July 1980):  533-57.

            Evans emphasizes the significance of the role of female activists in the German Social Democratic Party.  He details the rhetoric, organizational structure, and tactics that women in the SPD used and argues that their pro-socialist movement had more of an impact on women’s equality that did bourgeoisie reforms.  He also describes the effect that the woman had on their male counterparts within the SPD.


Waite, Linda J., et all., “Nonfamily Living and Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review 51, no. 2 (1986): 541-554.   (accessed September 16, 2011).

        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 way 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 study was especially useful as these researchers not only had an especially large sample to work with but their results clearly demonstrated the liberating effect that nonfamily living had on their females subjects.


MacGowan, Christopher. “William Carlos Williams.” In Columbia History of American Poetry. Edited by Jay Parini, 395-418. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

      MacGowan’s is a chronologically organized account of William’s poetic career and of his relation to both modernism as an international movement and modernism as it affected the development of poetry in America. MacGowan argues that an essential feature of William’s commitment as a poet was to “the local-to the clear presentation of what was under his nose and in front of his eyes” (385). But he also takes care to remind us that Williams was in no way narrowly provincial, having studied in Europe as a young man (at Leipzig), having had a Spanish mother and an English father, having become friendly with poets Ezra Pound and H.D. while getting his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and having continued to meet important figures in the literary and art worlds by making frequent visits to New York and by traveling on more than one occasion to Europe. MacGowan depicts Williams as setting himself “against the international school of Eliot and Pound-Americans he felt wrote about rootlessness and searched an alien past because of their failure to write about and live within their own culture” (397). This source will be helpful in situating Williams as a cosmopolite among his contemporaries, in contrast to conventional opinion. I located this source through the MLA Bibliography on the ETSU Sherrod Library Web Site.


Constitution of Pennsylvania – September 28, 1776

From The Federal and State Constitutions Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America Compiled and Edited Under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906 by Francis Newton Thorpe; Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909. Website copyright 1998 by The Avalon Project, William C. Fray and Lisa A. Spar, Co-Directors.

This is the constitution adopted by the state of Pennsylvania following the Declaration of Independence. The Continental Congress had requested each state to take steps to create a legal government, since independence had rendered the old colonial charters null and void. One section contains a declaration of inhabitants’ rights. The constitution establishes a one-house legislature, with executive power in the hands of a council (which elected a president and vice president). The council selected judges.


Dawes Act of 1887

From United States Statutes at Large. Web site copyright 1998 by The Avalon Project, William C. Fray and Lisa A. Spar, Co-Directors.

The act allows the president or his appointees to divide reservation lands suitable for agriculture or grazing into individual allotments to be granted to Indians. The government may purchase any lands left over after allotment is complete and then make those lands available to settlers. For 25 years the government would act as trustee for the allotted lands and would also keep money paid for the excess land in trust. In the future state or territorial laws would apply to Indians. Those natives who accept “residence separate and apart from any tribe of Indians therein, and [who] has adopted the habits of civilized life” would become citizens of the United States.




Your Annotated Bibliography Should:


  1. Categorize as shown above.
  2. Single space bibliographic entries.
  3. Indent second and following lines of bibliographic entries.
  4. Leave a line space between bibliographic entry and annotative remarks.
  5. Indent annotation (make margins five spaces smaller on both margins).
  6. Singe space annotations.
  7. Leave line space after annotative remarks.
  8. Placed name of article in quotation ” ” marks.
  9. Underline or italicize the names of books and names of magazines.
  10. For scholarly journals, give the Volume #, Issue #, Month and Year of Publication, and pages of article in journal. Follow this example: 

        The American Journal of International Law.  Vol. 39, No. 3 (July 1945): 406-425.

  1. For popular magazines and newspapers, give date that the issue appeared for public sale. (You don’t have to cite volume and issue numbers)
  2. You do not number bibliographic entries when you use the Turabian format.
  3. Books require place of publication, publisher, and year of publication. For example:  Upper Saddle River, N.J.:  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2004.
  4. Be aware that Bibliographies and Footnotes are two different things. Footnotes have a slightly different format than do Bibliographies.

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