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Citation and Formatting: Annotated Bibliography Resources

An introduction to available materials on MLA, APA, Turabian/Chicago Styles, legal resources and legal citations.

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About Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies

A bibliography is a list of items, articles, and books on a particular topic. These lists often appear at the end of articles in scholarly journals or books as an aid to further research. Bibliographies often contain annotations - or descriptive notes - and the citations must adhere to the format found in a style manual.

The citation is the formal way to describe the item and gives the author, the title, and other specifics of the item.

An annotation is a brief description of an item, book, or journal article, appearing after the citation in a bibliography. An annotation includes a short summary of the content, an evaluation of the source, and a summary of the conclusions of the researcher.

There are two portions: the citation and the annotation. You might think of these as the address of the item and the description of the item. Notice, in the description, there is room for comments on the usefulness of the item for a researcher.

When you do your assessment, be sure to address the issues of currency, relevance, reliability, authority, audience, purpose, and point of view.

What's in an Annotation?


Image adapted from: Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Annotated Bibliographies: What's in an annotation?

  • Bias: Note any assumptions underlying the author's argument.
  • Source: How was the presented information obtained?
  • Audience: Does the author's style reflect their intended audience?
  • Purpose: Consider the author's intention. Why are they writing?
  • Author: How does the author's experience show in their writing?
  • Conclusion: What is the outcome of their reasoning?
  • Attachments: Are documents like maps, tests or surveys included?
  • Justification: Does the conclusion fit the research and argument?
  • Relationship: How does the study compare to other work on the topic?

An annotation should ...

  • Describe the material briefly - in 50-100 words.
  • Help others decide how relevant the material is to their own research.
  • NOT be a review.

Source: Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sample Annotated Citation

Examples (MLA):​

  1. This encyclopedia article provided an overview of women’s suffrage, pointing out some of the issues surrounding the movement. The basis of the movement reflects a country’s state of human rights. “This is a major indicator of the state of human rights in those nations (Bakirci).” The article concludes with a section on international women’s suffrage and difficulties voting.
  2. This article from Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World is taken from a renowned reference source, Gale Virtual Reference; as such, it is reliable. Published in 2011, the source is not quite cutting edge; however, since history is a subject that doesn’t go through constant updates, the fact that it is over a decade old is not of huge concern. The information provided in the article about suffrage was fairly brief and didn’t provide comprehensive coverage of the suffrage movement in terms of history. Also, the impact of the suffrage movement for future generations was not discussed.
  3. This source is used as a beginning reference to orient the reader to the basics of the women's suffrage movement.  The references at the end of the article provided some excellent places for further research. In beginning a research paper about such a large and controversial topic, a reliable foundation can be used for this purpose, such as is provided in the Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World.

Hanging Indentation

Hanging Indentation

Note: the following examples are in APA 7.

Using Word:

1) Ctrl+T - Place your cursor at the beginning of the second line of your citation.

Image depicting the text of a book citation. An arrow points to the space before the first word on the second line.

2) Press the control & the T keys at the same time (command + T on some operating systems).

Image depicts the text of a book citation. The second line is indented 5 spaces to the right of the first.


Using Google Docs:

1) Highlight your citations.

Image of highlighted book-citation text.

2) Select Format from the top tool bar. Select Align & Indent, then Indentation Options from the emergent menus.

Image showing successive menus.

3) In the resulting pop-up menu, select Special Indent, then Hanging, then click Apply.

Image depicts menu labeled "indentation options" with purple boxes around the selected items.

The resulting citation should look like this:

Image of book citation in hanging indentation.