How to Write An Annotated Bibliography Step By Step

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step-By-Step

A pleasant day to all of you! We are now back at my weekly guide.

Hey! What’s the topic for this week?

The topic for this week is about annotated bibliographies! If memory serves me right, they have to be books and journals (i.e. scholarly sources). It was even a part of our midterm examination/s!

As usual, let us play the interrogation game. Here are questions for you to reflect on:

  1. Are you familiar with them?
  2. Have you written an annotated bibliography in class before?

Our agenda for today consists of the following:

  1. Definition and characteristics of an annotated bibliography
  2. MLA, APA, Chicago template
  3. Step-by-step guide
  4. Annotation examples

I shall now open the door to new knowledge. Are you ready?

What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies provide a short summary of your chosen sources. The sources you chose have to be evaluated. From my experience, I was expected to state the significance of my sources when annotating them.

Annotations are arranged in alphabetical order, and are cited in MLA, APA, or Chicago format.

What Is Included In An Annotated Bibliography?

The content of your annotated bibliography varies from instructor to instructor. As far as memory is concerned, I have to include an APA citation of my sources, a summary of the source, and an evaluation.

For this purpose, I will enumerate the basic requirements of an annotated bibliography.

1.Introduction and title of your research

  • Of course you would need the title of your research. You may opt to write the title after you have made your annotations.
  • The introduction presents the background of your study. What is it about? Depending on the instructions given, you might have to add a research question and objectives.
  • You might have to include your chosen framework of your study. As far as I can remember, one professor of mine praised a group because they added their framework in their annotated bibliographies.

2. An APA/MLA/Chicago citation of your entries

  • They have to be arranged in alphabetical order. You can use Citefast to generate your citations.

3. A summary of your entries

  • You might be asked to summarize the main arguments of the author, and relate it to your topic.

4. Evaluation of your entries

  • In my opinion and experience, this serves as a “trademark” of an annotated bibliography. You have to state why your chosen sources are significant to your study.

Annotated Bibliography Template

I’ve written annotations in APA format when I was a former student. Usually, they are one or two paragraphs long as per the requirements of the instructor. There was one instance when I wrote two paragraphs to make them more organized.

I’ve learned from Purdue OWL that annotations in Chicago style contain only one paragraph. Additionally, I’ve also learned that annotations in MLA format consist of three paragraphs.

There are some sample templates below for you:

Annotated Bibliography APA Template

Annotated Bibliography APA Template

Annotated Bibliography Chicago Template

Annotated Bibliography MLA Template

Annotated Bibliography MLA Template

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Step By Step?

I will now teach you how to write an annotated bibliography. Your professor’s instructions may vary from this guide. Please keep this in mind.


  • Yes, I’m serious about this. This is a basic step. Listen to your instructor carefully to the requirements and formatting of your annotated bibliographies.
  • It may differ from the templates I showed you previously. In this case, it is best to listen to your professor. Don’t be a rebel, okay?

2. Research!

  • This is another basic step! Writing, even researching potential sources for your annotated bibliographies can be time consuming.
  • As always, you can visit EbscoHost, Google Scholar, or JSTOR if your teacher asks for scholarly sources.

3. Look at the sources you gathered!

  • You can skim the main points of your sources. If you want to read your sources, go ahead. Either way, you may want to take down notes.
  • Make sure you understand the source’s message! As much as possible, avoid sources that contain unfamiliar jargon or equations.

4. Summarize!

  • Write a summary of the main points of your source.
  • It answers the questions:
  1. What is it about?
  2. What does it want to assert?
  • For me, this is like the “message” of the source.

5. Evaluate!

  • It answers the questions:
  1. What is the significance of the source to your study?
  2. How is it useful to your research?
  • This is the part where I critique the source.

6. Reflect!

  • I based this from the MLA template earlier.
  • It answers the question:

How is this source applicable to my research?

7. Organize and proofread!

  • Make sure that your sources are arranged in alphabetical order.
  • Proofread your paper for errors.

Yay! You now have your own set of annotated bibliographies. It is your instructor’s discretion if the annotations you will do are individual or by group.

I’ve experienced writing annotations by group. With that, here are some points to consider:

Schedule and plan!

  • Schedule a time for creating your annotated bibliographies. Plan ahead and set your priorities straight.
  • Don’t cram unless your group can produce high quality work! Cram at your own risk!

Divide and conquer!

  • Let’s say every group in class are tasked to create 15 annotations, and there are three members in one group.
  • It means that each member will do five annotations.
  • If you finish first, you may volunteer to write a draft of the introduction.


  • Why? You might have a duplicate source. It is best to let your other members know you found this source first. Remember, finders keepers!

Proofread and double check!

  • As what they say, the more the merrier! All members may check the annotations for typographical errors.
  • This includes arranging the entries in alphabetical order. Double check if all guidelines of the professor are addressed.

Annotated Bibliography Example

This part contains examples of annotations written in APA, Chicago, and MLA. Please use these examples for your reference only. It will give you an idea as to how they look like or structured.

I compared the annotations I made when I was a student to the examples I found. The way I structured mine slightly differ from the examples. Again, it all depends on the instructions given by the professor.

APA Annotated Bibliography Example 

Will Keillor of Bethel University Library provides examples of annotations written in APA format.

Chicago Annotated Bibliography Example 

Todd Richardson of Texas State University-San Marcos has examples of annotations written in Chicago style.

MLA Annotated Bibliography Example

The University Writing Center (University of Central Florida) presents examples of annotations cited in MLA format.


Now you know what an annotation is! You are now familiar with the basics of writing an annotated bibliography! Whether you are writing annotated bibliographies by yourself or with a group, best of luck! You can do it! Fight! Fight!

It’s a difficult task, in my opinion that is. If you have not written an annotated bibliography, then I’m sure you know what to expect.

Listen to your professor’s instructions, okay? It might cost you your grade if you don’t.

What time is it?

Oh yeah! It’s time for me to leave!

That’s all, folks! Till the next guide!

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