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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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English Writing Projects: Annotated Bibliography

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Your instructor may ask you to develop an annotated bibliography for a number of reasons. If you've been assigned to do an individual or collaborative presentation in your "1C" course, your task may include creating a bibliography of the sources you've used and circulating it to the rest of the class.

That bibliography will probably include some specific information about what you found in those sources and how valuable they were to you. And, in the course of your preparation to write a research paper, you may be asked to keep a list of "annotations" of the sources you're collecting—again, descriptions of their contents and evaluations of those contents.

Expectations for the Annotated Bibliography

  • Method #1—your instructor may tell you that the annotations (the descriptive paragraph accompanying each of your citations) should include two items:
    • A descriptive sentence or two that characterize the kind of information from each source.
    • An evaluative sentence or two that characterizes the usefulness or relative value of this source in relation to the position you're arguing.
  • Method #2—each of your annotations will contain only descriptive information about each source.
  • Method #3—each paragraph of information about your sources will include only evaluative information.

Types of Evidence

  • Primary text evidence—these could include archives, interviews, a literary text or film that is important to you, autobiography, a key speech, letters, an art work or piece of music.
  • Historical or social evidence—this "secondary source" material could be very useful in providing a context for a study you're preparing to do.
  • Scholarly evidence—again, these secondary source materials take varying positions on issues or primary texts.
  • Personal evidence—this type of evidence, although useful in other situations, isn't likely to serve you here, for obvious reasons.

Methods of Citation

  • The bibliographical citation itself—you need to represent a complete citation, using MLA format, and, if you're setting up a list of citations, you must do so alphabetically.
  • The annotation—the two to four sentences in each citation should be set up in "block" format, with a line space between the citation and the annotation. Follow MLA format here.

What's Valued in Annotated Bibliographies...

  • Conciseness—whether you're doing these citations for yourself or a specific audience, make them clear, sharp, and brief.
  • specificity—these citations will serve you well if you include specific, directive information in them.
  • Consistentformating—these citations will be useful for you or your audience if they can use them to retrace your steps and locate them.

...and What's NOT

  • Incomplete citation—missing citation information will cost you time and stretch the patience of your instructor.
  • Generalizations in the annotation—a lack of specific information won't help you or your audience to categorize or evaluate the quality of your sources.

Sample Annotated Bibliographies

Links to sample annotated bibliographies

Sample Student Annotated Bibliographies

Links to student annotated biliographies

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