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 (in our case about 200 word) 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.
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.
1. Locate and record citations to books, periodicals, TV shows, movies, etc, 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. Although one must be an academic source, the other three can be from academic or popular sources. Unless using another academic source, all four sources should be different.
2. Cite the book, article, or document using MLA style.
3. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central topic and scope of the book or article (3-5 sentences). Include one (or more) sentence that (a) evaluates the authority or background of the author, (b) comments on the intended audience, (c) compares or contrasts this work with another you have cited.
Each annotation should be about anywhere from 6-15 sentences.
This is a sample annotation:
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing
and Life. New York:
Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun.
A prolific author herself, Lamott offers advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is unique due to its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Unlike Smith's book (see below) that is clearly aimed at professional writers, chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises.
**language borrowed/copied/adapted from Cornell University Library and OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab