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APA Style Guide, 6th Edition: Annotated Bibliography

A style guide for APA

Annotated Bibliography

an•no•ta•tion: n. 1. The act or process of furnishing critical commentary or explanatory notes. 2. A critical or explanatory note; a commentary.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

A list of citations for books, articles, websites, and other materials where each citation is accompanied by a brief descriptive and evaluative statement, called an annotation.

Annotations are different from the abstracts you will find accompanying journal article citations in online databases.  Abstracts are descriptive. Your annotation must extend beyond the descriptive element to include an evaluation of the book or article.

Why Annotations?

An annotated bibliography is a tool for exploring a topic of interest.  The process of reading and reflecting on the materials you find in the gather part of the research process can help you understand the topic, identify multiple perspectives, explore different methods used to investigate the topic, and give you ideas for developing the thesis for your paper.

How are Annotations Created?

  1. Locate and record the citations for articles, books, and other materials you will use for your paper.  You need to gather enough sources to represent a range of perspectives on your topic.
  2. Create the citation using the appropriate style (MLA, APA, etc.). Tools that can help you with this include handouts received in class and in the library.
  3. Write the annotation considering the questions below.  Keep it short but be very complete.

Questions to consider when evaluating the item and writing your annotation include:

  • What education, experience and/or background does the author have which contributes to their being an authority on the topic?
  • Who is the intended audience for the book or article and how does that influence the presentation of the information?
  • How does this work contribute to your argument or support claims about your topic?
  • What are the main conclusions of the author(s) and what evidence do they use to support them?

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition provides the following basic information for creating an annotated bibliography. 

  • Format and order references in an annotated bibliography in alphabetical order, the same as you would order entries in a reference list (see section 9.43 -9.44 of the APA manual)
  • Each annotation should be a new paragraph below its reference entry.  Indent the entire annotation 0.5 in. from the left margin, the same as you would a block quotation (see Section 8.27 of the APA manual).  Do not indent the first line of the annotation.
  • If the annotation spans multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of the second and any subsequent paragraphs an additional 0.5 in., the same as you would a block quotation with multiple paragraphs.

Figure 9.3 Sample Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliographies. University Libraries, U of Nevada Las Vegas, www.library.unlv.edu/, 2018.