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Updated annotated bibliography instructions

Q.  Under the MLA 8th edition you mention hanging indents need to be used. Am I mistaken or shouldn't the first line be justified left and then the hanging indent used on subsequent lines?

A.  Thank you very much for pointing out that our 'How to Write an Annotated Bibliography' page was not accurately formatted. This has been corrected now.


Citation Guides and Style Manuals

  • General Citation Guides
  • Data Citation
  • Citing Generative AI
  • Student Papers
  • Professional Papers
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Cite Articles
  • Cite Websites
  • Parts of a Citation

What is an annotated bibliography?

  • An Annotated Bibliography is somewhat like a "research paper without the paper." It is a targeted list of relevant, high-quality, accurate sources on a topic, with a brief description (annotation) following each source. Annotations briefly describe the source and often evaluate it and add your reactions/reflections.
  • An Annotated Bibliography looks   like  an APA References List plus   annotations (brief paragraph follows each reference describing/evaluating it   in your own words )   Source: Publication Manual, 9.51, p.  307. Each reference should give complete information so that readers can find the sources .
  • Don't copy annotations from article, abstract, Amazon, etc. Use your own words and ideas. 
  • Sample Annotated Bibliography in   Publication Manual Figure 9.3, p. 308. 
  • Your Course instructor sets format for APA 7th bibliography, including type/number of references, length/structure of annotations.  Look at assignment rubric and ask instructor to post examples on Blackboard. 
  • An Annotated Bibliography, unlike "regular" APA research papers, has no in-text citations.  Include an in-text citation only if you're mentioning another item on the list.

Steps in Preparing an Annotated Bibliography

  • Find sources related to topic . Course instructor can help with topic selection.
  • Critically read and evaluate sources, and choose best to include.
  • Create  APA 7th citation for each source . Each source double-spaced and has a 0.5" hanging indent.
  • Open a Word document and list sources alphabetically . Suggested title: Annotated Bibliography: Subject of Paper (bolded and centered)
  • Type an annotation for each source . Each annotation is a double-spaced paragraph under the source, indented 0.5" to line up with the hanging indent of the source they follow.
  • Proofread . Do you have enough sources of each type, and are APA citations correct? Did you put annotations in your own words, and not copy and paste?

Where do I find sources for my annotated bibliography?

  • Types of Scholarly Sources
  • Finding Scholarly Journal Articles
  • Finding Scholarly Books
  • Finding Reputable Websites

There are no set  APA rules about number of references or length of annotations. Follow your assignment rubric. Usually you will need scholarly resources, including:

(1) Scholarly/peer-reviewed journals

(2) Scholarly books

(3) Reputable websites

( 1) Peer-reviewed (scholarly) articles: find in One-Search, Databases, or Library Research Guides Databases tab . Read the entire article, not just the abstract (summary). Usually a hyperlink will open the full article in another window.

One-Search  (WKU Libraries' catalog and more) gets you started finding peer-reviewed articles. Here is a guide  to using One-Search.

Look for this symbol 

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Under "Tweak your Results," click [peer reviewed] and [apply filters] to find just peer-reviewed:


Databases  are your second go-to for scholarly journal articles. WKU Libraries' YouTube channel has brief database videos . Most databases let you limit to peer-reviewed:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Library Research Guides

Library Research Guides  are a third place to find  scholarly articles. Select subject, then [Articles and Databases].  Example below is from Public Health, and lists good databases to search.

annotated bibliography apa sfu

  • Find books at  WKU Libraries  or other source. Here's how to search   our online catalog, called One-Search. Get the entire book -- an Amazon listing is not enough.

Example: book on Tigers from WKU Libraries. Location highlighted. [Citation] helps format citation (check against Publication Manual ):

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Example Two: Ebook at WKU Libraries. Click and sign in with WKU NetID/password to view online:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Reputable websites , especially those of governments, universities, professional organizations, or nonprofit groups (.org, .gov., .edu) . You can use a Web browser such as Google. Evaluate carefully:

  • Currency: Do links work? When was last update? Does website link to latest information?
  • Coverage: Focused on my research topic? Good scope and depth? Accessible without payment or special software?
  • Authority: Who wrote the content and what are their qualifications? Can I contact them?
  • Accuracy: Is content truthful and without obvious bias?
  • Purpose: Why was this content created? Is there an "About Us" tab? What is the domain? Are they selling/promoting something?

How to Find Websites:

(1) Use a Web browser such as Google.

(2)  Library Research Guides also help find websites. Look for the [ Websites ] tab:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

(3) Your course textbook . often lists good subject websites.

Putting Citations in APA 7th Format

  • Putting sources in APA 7th format
  • Library Database Cite buttons
  • Other Citation Help

Create an APA 7th citation for each source in your Annotated Bibliography and list them alphabetically.   

How do i put my sources in apa 7th format.

Publication Manual , Chapter 10, p. 315-352, is authoritative source for APA. Full guide is print-only.

APA Style   APA online source with reference examples.

WKU Libraries has APA 7th citation examples for articles , books and Internet sources .

Several other sources can help put citations in APA 7th format. Click on tabs above to see more resources.  Always double-check for accuracy. 

  • One-Search, Library Databases, and Google Scholar have a [cite] button
  • Internet help sites
  • Citation formatters
  • Reference manager such as Zotero or Endnote. Integrates with Word.

Example One: One-Search Cite button

Click [...] at upper right:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Then click the Cite " button:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Select [APA] and copy and paste your APA citation. Note that One-Search still uses 6th edition. Proofread carefully: capital letters, elements of citation correct, hanging indent, and DOI (if any):

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Example Two: EBSCOhost cite button

Click title hyperlink to display full record:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Click [Cite] on right of full EBSCOhost record:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Then scroll to see APA citation:

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Now use your critical thinking skills ... does this APA citation include the author, date, title, and source, formatted exactly like the examples from the Publication Manual and APA Style ?  Could your reader follow the URL or DOI (if any) to find this source?

Always check the APA template to make sure citation is correct . Our database has incorrectly added "libsrv.wku.edu" to the DOI. This is incorrect because someone not at WKU couldn't follow this link. Test by copying/pasting into a Web browser.

Here is corrected citation :

Tarnopolsky, A., Fletcher, N., Hollenberg, L., Lange, B., Smith, J., & Wolfe, J. (2005). Acoustics: The vocal tract and the sound of a didgeridoo.  Nature ,  436 (7047), 39. https://doi.org/10.1038/43639a

  • Zotero Free reference manager. Collects and stores your research resources. Integrates with Word to insert properly-formatted citations into your paper. You can download references from library databases or insert them manually. There is a learning curve, but Zotero can save you time if you do a lot of scholarly writing.
  • Endnote Basic Free reference manager, integrates with Web of Science. Somewhat greater learning curve than Zotero. The fee-based version, Endnote Desktop, is widely used in the sciences.
  • Purdue Owl Introduction to APA Style Purdue Owl is a widely-used site with examples of citations/papers and formatting help.. Accepts advertising.
  • Scribbr: APA 7th Edition: Most Notable Changes Based in Amsterdam, Scribbr is a helpful site compiled by an international team of youthful editors committed to "helping students graduate."
  • EasyBib EasyBib is one of many free, standalone citation generators/citation formatters. If you use these, always double- check :)

Annotated Bibliographies -- Further Information/Examples

  • Purdue Owl: Annotated Bibliiographies Includes example of APA annotated. Site has advertising.
  • Simon Fraser University Library. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
  • English 300. Annotated Bibliography
  • Social Work 620 Annotated Bibliography

Zotero Annotated Bibliography Style

If you'd like to use Zotero to create an annotated bibliography in APA or Chicago style, you can use a custom citation style designed specifically to output annotations.

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  • Last Updated: Oct 4, 2023 5:21 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.wku.edu/stylewrite

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Research Help: Annotated Bibliographies

  • Ask a Librarian
  • Subject Guides
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  • Evaluating Web Sources
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  • Citation Guides & Bibliographic Tools
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Annotated Bibliographies

  • Writing Guides
  • Academic Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism

Citation Guides

  • Other Citation Styles

The following guides provide information and guidelines for creating annotated bibliographies. Most also include sample annotated bibliography entries in a variety of styles. 

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  • Last Updated: Dec 1, 2023 7:27 PM
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MacEwan University Library

  • MacEwan University Library
  • Subject Guides

Robbins Workshops

  • Annotated Bibliography (General)
  • Annotated Bibliography (Nursing)
  • Reading a Scholarly Article
  • Paraphrasing & Summarizing
  • APA Tips & Tricks
  • Tackling Test Anxiety
  • Manage citations with Zotero
  • Library @ the Robbins
  • Your Librarians

Workshop Resources

  • Annotated Bibliographies Slides
  • Annotated Bibliographies Transcript
  • Sample Annotated Bibliography NOTE: your assignment may NOT look like this; check your guidelines; this is one example of how an annotated bibliography can look

Annotated Bibliography Workshop Video

Writing your annotated bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography Resources

  • << Previous: Robbins Workshops
  • Next: Annotated Bibliography (Nursing) >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 21, 2023 12:37 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.macewan.ca/robbins

annotated bibliography apa sfu

annotated bibliography apa sfu

Library : How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

annotated bibliography apa sfu

  • The purpose and scope of the work
  • A brief description of the format and content
  • A summary of the main arguments
  • The theoretical basis of the argument
  • The author's academic credentials

For an evaluative bibliography:

  • The work's intended audience and reading difficulty
  • The value and significance of the work within the discipline
  • The point of view or perspective from which the work is written
  • Any possible shortcomings or bias in the work
  • Any additional features of the work (eg. glossary, appendices, particularly good index)
  • Your own brief impression of the work

What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

A published annotated bibliography helps researchers by identifying what has already been written on a topic. The annotations are very useful in deciding which items to read first, or determining which items are related to each other, etc.

As an assignment in a course, an annotated bibliography has one or more purposes:

  • if the annotated bibliography is part of a larger project it helps you stay on track with your research
  • it demonstrates your ability to select, analyze and evaluate research in a discipline

Check with your instructor to see if you will be required to analyze as well as summarize the works in your list.


How do i write a good evaluative annotation.

  • be critical - Go beyond summarizing the article. The value for your reader lies in your assessment of each source.
  • be brief - Keep your annotation to a limit of 10 sentences and/or 150 words.
  • be honest - Don't pad your bibliography with works that you did not use and/or did not influence your research.

Academic Integrity

Writing your annotations will require that you summarize each article's main arguments. In doing so you may find yourself quoting the author's words. Academic integrity requires that you cite direct quotations from the author's text. Failing to credit an author for his or her work or ideas is an example of plagiarism.

Note : normally you must also provide your reader with a citation every time you paraphrase or summarize someone else's work or ideas. As noted above, "failing to credit an author for his or her work or ideas is an example of plagiarism" even if presented in your own words.

However, an entry in an annotated bibliography by definition includes a summary of the original author's work. The reader already understands that your recap represents another person's "work or ideas." In this situation further citations are not necessary, though if you are writing an evaluative annotation your assessment of the author's work is expected to be your own original work.

For more information about types of plagiarism, avoiding plagiarism, and what you do and do not need to document check out the website for the Academic Integrity Resource Centre.

Where Can I Find out how to Cite Properly?

Annotated bibliographies use the same sorts of citation styles that standard bibliographies and lists of works cited do. Your instructor will likely specify the style you are to use - but if not - you will have to choose one and use it consistently throughout your bibliography.

  • how to reference multiple authors
  • line spacing
  • capitalizing (or not) book & article titles
  • indent placement
  • page margins
  • Check out the Library's Guide to Citing here to learn more about using APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian and other styles.

More Academic Integrity Resources

  • For an excellent guide to paraphrasing see: Paraphrase: Write it in your own words , from Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL).
  • For more information about academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism see UBC Library's Academic Integrity Resource Centre

Check out these other online guides

  • Write an Annotated Bibliography . From the University of California, Santa Cruz Library this brief guide includes a good "how to" section on writing annotations as well as example entries.
  • Annotated Bibliographies . From the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), this guide provides clear explanations of the purpose and structure of annotated bibliographies. Also provides links to help with formatting in MLA and APA citation styles.
  • How to Write an Annotated Bibliography . From Simon Fraser University Library, this guide explains the proper formatting for an annotated bibliography and provides examples written in MLA and APA style.
  • Writing an Annotated Bibliography . From the University of Toronto, this guide explains how to select suitable sources, summarize arguments and assess the "relevance and value" of sources. It also includes a very helpful vocabulary list to help you "summarize and discuss" the texts you've used.

Help at UBC

  • Writing Tutorial Services - for writing help
  • Ask a Librarian - for help finding sources for your research and for help finding writing / citation guides.
  • Planning Research

annotated bibliography apa sfu

APA (7th ed.) Citation Style Guide: Paper Format Guidelines

  • Paper Format Guidelines
  • Four Elements of a Reference
  • Missing Reference Information
  • In-Text Citations
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tables and Figures
  • Book Sections (Chapters)
  • Reference Works
  • Business Sources
  • Audiovisual Material
  • Social Media & Software
  • Government Documents
  • Open Textbooks
  • Course Related Material
  • Personal Communications
  • Further Examples
  • Legal Citation
  • Nursing Resources

APA Style Links

  • APA Style - Basic Principles of Reference List Entries
  • APA Style - Quick Answers - Formatting
  • APA Style 7th ed. Reference Quick Guide
  • APA Style Blog
  • APA Style - Supplemental Resources
  • APA - Introduction to the 7th ed.
  • APA Style - Missing Reference Information
  • APA Style - Reference Examples

Sample Papers

  • APA - Sample Papers This page from the APA website shows examples of both student and professional papers in APA style.
  • Academic Writer Tutorial: Basics of Seventh Edition APA Style This APA tutorial helps you understand and implement the following basic elements of APA Style.

Useful Links

  • Douglas College Learning Centre - In-Text Citation Using APA Style (7th ed.)
  • Douglas College Psychology Department - An Introduction to APA Style: A Student Guide
  • Purdue OWL- Annotated Bibliography Samples

Tips for Writing the Reference List

  • The reference list should be on a new page after the text and before any tables, figures or appendices. 
  • The word References should appear centered at the top of the page and in bold.
  • Double space all entries in the reference list -including between and within references.
  • Use a hanging indent  for all references (meaning indent the second and subsequent lines of an entry 5-7 spaces.
  • Entries are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the author(s).  Works with no author are listed under the first significant word of the title.
  • If several references have the same author(s), list them in the order they were published, earliest first.
  • Include all references in one alphabetical listing from A-Z .
  • Sample Annotated Student Paper (with References section) This sample paper from the APA Publication Manual shows how students can properly format their papers, including their References pages.
  • APA (7th ed.) Interactive Tool Build your own APA references with this interactive tool from Massey University (NZ).

Paper Formatting

Font and size  - Use the same font throughout the text of the paper.  Check with your instructor for their preferences. APA recommends " a sans serif font such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode or a serif font such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10 point) Computer Modern." 

Line Spacing - Double space throughout the entire document, including the title page, reference. list, and block quotations. There are a few exception such as table body and figure image.

Margins - use 1 inch margins on all sides -top, bottom, left and right.  

Page Numbers - the page numbers should be located in the right corner of the header, including the title page.

Paragraph Indentation - Paragraphs should be indented 1/2 inch.

For further information, see pages 283-301   of the  Publication manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th ed.,  pp. 44-45.

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of books, articles, and other sources, along with an evaluative summary (usually a few sentences) that you have written for each. The summary offers critical analysis of the source and your reasons for selecting it for your research.

For more details on how to write such a summary and how to format the list, see the excellent  How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography  from Cornell University.

APA Title Page setup

  • APA Style Title Page Set up for Student and Professional Papers
  • APA Style Student Title Page Guide

APA - Headings

  • APA Style Headings
  • Purdue OWL - APA Headings
  • APA Style Student Paper Heading Levels

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Academic Integrity - Douglas College Policy
  • Paraphrasing without Plagiarizing This resource explains the differences between proper and improper paraphrasing and shows you the steps to paraphrase a complicated quotation using APA style.
  • Plagiarism: How to Avoid It This resource from the Douglas College Learning Centre will help you avoid plagiarism in your class assignments.
  • SFU Plagiarism Tutorial
  • Purdue OWL - Paraphrasing
  • Purdue OWL - Avoiding Plagiarism
  • << Previous: Welcome
  • Next: Four Elements of a Reference >>
  • Last Updated: Dec 1, 2023 1:22 PM
  • URL: https://guides.douglascollege.ca/APA-7


Citation Styles Guide: Annotated bibliographies

  • In-text citations
  • Works cited - page formatting and creating an entry
  • Works cited - examples
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Tables, figures and musical illustrations
  • In-text citation
  • List of references - general formatting
  • List of references - examples
  • Tables and figures
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Bibliographies
  • Tables and Figures

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you have used or will use for an assignment. Each entry in the list is accompanied by an explanation of its usefulness for your work. This explanation is what differentiates an annotated bibliography from a normal Works Cited.

Your annotated bibliography should contain the following:

A citation for each of the works you used.

An annotation describing each work’s relationship to your research.

The content of your annotations will vary according to assignment guidelines. Your instructor may require you to:

Describe a source’s content.

Identify a source’s main argument(s) (i.e. thesis, hypothesis, research question).

Evaluate the strengths or weakness of a source’s argument(s).

Assess the reliability of a source (for help with this, consult the PAARC Test on the Evaluating information: The PAARC test page of our Performing academic research LibGuide).

Explain a source’s relevance to your research or argument.

Please pay careful attention to your assignment requirements – not all annotated bibliographies contain the same information! The requirements of your assignment always overrule anything we mention here.

Preparing an annotated bibliography in MLA style (MLA Handbook 5.132)

Each entry in an MLA style annotated bibliography will have two parts. They are:

  • A citation in standard MLA format. Just as when you normally prepare your list of Works Cited at the end of a paper, you will need to follow the specifics of MLA citation style in order to provide the required information about your source. To learn more about MLA citation styles, please consult the Works Cited section of this LibGuide.  
  • The annotation , that is, your explanation of the usefulness of a given source. The annotation will always follow directly after the end of the citation. Start it on a new line, It should be indented a full inch (2.54 cm) from the margin, to distinguish it from the 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) hanging indent of the citation.

Example - With a description of the source's content

Eigen, Joel Peter. Unconscious Crime: Mental Absence and Criminal Responsibility in Victorian London. Johns Hopkins UP, 2003. Ebook Central , https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/marianopolis-ebooks/reader.action?ppg=1&docID=3318233&tm=1479405171085.

Eigen examines the effects of the McNaughton trial and its resulting 1843 legal rules on criminal cases at London’s Old Bailey between 1843 and 1876. The book further explores the impact of the era’s various preoccupations with altered consciousness, such as in Mesmerism, somnambulism and hypnotism, as well as their impact on legal proceedings.

Note:  Always follow your teacher’s requirements for the content of your annotations. Don’t assume you are supposed to provide a summary only.

The MLA Handbook, 9th Edition

Cover Art

The MLA Handbook , 9th Edition, published by the Modern Language Association, is the definitive guide on MLA citation style. It was last updated in 2021. Copies of the Handbook are available at the Reserve Desk in the Library.

Useful websites

These other guides to creating an annotated bibliography may also prove helpful to you:

  • Concordia University - "How to Write an Annotated Bibliography" (Article)
  • Simon Fraser University: How to Write an Annotated Bibliography (Website)
  • << Previous: Works cited - examples
  • Next: Tables, figures and musical illustrations >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 12, 2023 11:44 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.marianopolis.edu/citation

Creative Commons License


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  6. Key to Writing Useful Annotations


  1. How to write an annotated bibliography

    Hanging Indents are required for citations in the bibliography, as shown below. That is, the first line of the citation starts at the left

  2. Updated annotated bibliography instructions

    Updated annotated bibliography instructions. Published July 26, 2018 by Dipa Barua. Q. Under the MLA 8th edition you mention hanging indents need to be used

  3. Annotated Bibliographies

    Annotations briefly describe the source and often evaluate it and add your reactions/reflections. An Annotated Bibliography looks like an APA References List

  4. Research Help: Annotated Bibliographies

    Provides an overview of annotated bibliographies as well as sample annotations in APA, Chicago and MLA styles. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography. A

  5. Library Handout Annotated Bibliography

    SFU – How to Write an Annotated Bibliography. University of Toronto – Writing

  6. Annotated Bibliography (General)

    Annotated Bibliography Workshop Video. Writing your Annotated Bibliography. Annotated Bibliography Resources. •http://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/cite

  7. Library:How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    indent placement; page margins. Check out the Library's Guide to Citing here to learn more about using APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian and other

  8. What is an Annotated Bibliography


  9. APA (7th ed.) Citation Style Guide: Paper Format Guidelines

    SFU Plagiarism Tutorial · Purdue OWL - Paraphrasing · Purdue OWL - Avoiding

  10. Citation Styles Guide: Annotated bibliographies

    An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you have used or will use for an assignment. Each entry in the list is accompanied by an

  11. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography in ethics

    The citation should be formatted in the bibliographic style that your Instructor has requested for. the assignment. For this assignment, the APA style is