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Citation Resources

MLA, APA, Chicago, Government Documents... Citing sources can be confusing until you get the hang of it. This guide is here to help.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a very specific type of references list for your paper that are sometimes required during the research and writing process. The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to be not only a list of resources for your paper, but also a evaluation of those sources and what they might offer to your research.

The "bibliography" portion of the list is the properly formatted citation of the book, article, chapter, or other type of source. This will be formatted using the style guide (APA, MLA, or Chicago most likely) required by your professor.

The "annotated" part is a short paragraph (a few sentences or short paragraphs) in which the source is summarized, its authority is evaluated, and you reflect on how it will contribute to your paper.

Taken together, these two parts of the annotated bibliography are a great way to organize and prepare your resources as you get ready to start the writing process.


Below are two example annotated bibliography entries. The annotation lengths below should not be taken as goals or guidelines. The length of an annotation can vary based on the source and assignment guidelines. Please consult with your professor for their desired length.

MLA bibliography:

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995.

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. Lamott offers sane 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 indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

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. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

APA Bibliography:

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.