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Tips to Writing a Good Annotated Bibliography

There are numerous academic papers that require an effective annotated bibliography to be written in support of them. For example, when writing a thesis, dissertation or a term paper students are often asked to write a great annotated bibliography. Very often we do not pay enough attention to this part, thinking that it is just a formal nuisance. After doing the main part, body section and research work students usually do not have the energy for completing their papers with a quality annotated bibliography. Today we are going to tell our readers how to write a good annotated bibliography in a few simple steps. Our writing tips and guidelines about how to write an annotated bibliography will assist you in creating a good annotated bibliography.

Step One: Start Early

Many students in high school, college or university think that they should start to write an annotated bibliography after completing the basic part of the paper. We want to remind you that it is much better to focus on the annotated bibliography at the research step of the process. When you do your research work, note every book, article and other sources you use for writing your paper. Take a special sheet of paper (or word processor document) where you will cite every source and describe it thoroughly. As you cite your sources, be sure to follow your chosen citation format, such as MLA, APA, or Turabian. Doing the citation work at this stage will save you from having to go back and recreate your research when you assemble the final version of the annotated bibliography.

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Step Two: Summarize

A proper annotated bibliography requires not just a simple summarizing of sources, but you also should give a short annotation for this source that evaluates it as well. Under each name of the source write your personal impression about this source and tell what was it about, why the author is credible and how the source can be helpful in your project. Do not create annotations too lengthy, use just a few sentences to describe each source. Remember, a successful annotated bibliography is designed to help you prepare the final essay, so a successful annotated bibliography will inform both your outline and your final paper by allowing you to incorporate information from it fast and easily.

Step Three: Was It Useful?

Students always forget about this important step. In an annotated bibliography, you should be writing under each source whether it was useful or not for you. For example, did it help you to develop your thesis statement? What key points does it support? We would not advise you to be overly critical of the sources as it shows that your paper was written using low-quality books and articles. If it was useful, tell the readers where they can find material from this source in your writing. Tell how it has helped you and what section was written with its help. Remember, the idea is that your annotated bibliography will connect to the material in the essay itself, almost like an outline of your research, showing the parts of the sources that contributed specifically to each part of your essay.

Step Four: Draft

It is always a good idea to write a draft of your paper, laying out the introduction, the conclusion, and everything in between. Try to cite at least a sample of the information from every source in your draft. Ideally, this should be the same set of facts and analysis that you presented in your annotations within the annotated bibliography. That way the reader can see a clear connection between the annotations in the bibliography and the material found in the essay itself. It’s usually best to write everything just as you think should be in your final paper. Read it twice and check for grammar and style mistakes. Ask someone to read it so they can find additional mistakes. Even if you aren’t going fast, it can still be all too easy to overlook our own mistakes when reading back our own writing.

An annotated bibliography usually takes several pages, but it should not cause you any trouble if you were following our writing tips. Remember to cite specifically those sources that were used for creating your paper (not just those you think were really useful). Follow our annotated bibliography writing guidelines and always start your work as early as possible.