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AFRS 324: Contemporary Black Woman

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies help organize potential sources prior to being cited in a paper, presentation or project. Once all sources are collected, annotations for each help the author decide where and how to reference the books, articles or other media relevant to the topic. Annotated bibliographies provide the following:

  1. a formatted citation for each source in the required style
  2. a summary of each source 
  3. a personal evaluation of each source
  4. personal notes on where and how each source will be used

Milford, S. (2015, Winter). Photo identification at the ballot: election protection or voter suppression? Missouri Law Review, 80(1), 297+. Retrieved from

Write your source summary here in the first paragraph below the citation that is formatted according to the required style - in most cases, this will be MLA, APA, or Chicago. You may paraphrase your source according to the particular content that is most useful to your assignment.  If you are using a journal article, the supplied summary (or abstract) can help with intellectually breaking down the purpose of the article or study as well as illustrate the results of the research presented therein. In any case, your written summary of the work will serve to remind you of why it is (or is not)  meaningful to you in the context of your paper or project.

Write your evaluation of the source here in the second paragraph.  Your evaluation gives you an opportunity to examine and question the work according to its reliability and credibility.  Consider the author's qualifications and the intended audience. Consider the intent of the work.  Does there appear to be an agenda?  Are the arguments made by the author supported by data or other forms of evidence? Are there sufficient citations to lead you to believe the work responsibility integrates the contributions of other experts in the field? Consider the tone of the language.  Are the words appropriate in a scholarly context? Is the language or speech exaggerated (hyperbolic) as if to add impact without the support of evidence? Consider the arguments (or points) made by the author.  Are these effective? Are there perceivable gaps in logic or unsupported claims? 

Write your usage notes of the source in the third paragraph. Use this paragraph to remind you of how the work supports your arguments/statements. Is the work appropriate to use in the context of your assignment? If so, what specific parts (or statements) in the work will you cite? And where in your paper or project will you refer to the work? 

See more on annotated bibliographies at the Online Writing Lab (OWL).

MLA 9th Annotated Bibliography Examples


Ontiveros, Randy J. In the Spirit of a New People: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Movement. New York UP, 2014.

This book analyzes the journalism, visual arts, theater, and novels of the Chicano movement from 1960 to the present as articulations of personal and collective values. Chapter 3 grounds the theater of El Teatro Campesino in the labor and immigrant organizing of the period, while Chapter 4 situates Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo in the struggles of Chicana feminists to be heard in the traditional and nationalist elements of the Chicano movement. Ontiveros provides a powerful and illuminating historical context for the literary and political texts of the movement.


Journal article

Alvarez, Nadia, and Jack Mearns. “The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community.” The Arts in Psychotherapy,             vol. 41, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 263-268. ScienceDirect

Spoken word poetry is distinctive because it is written to be performed out loud, in person, by the poet. The ten poets interviewed by these authors describe “a reciprocal relationship between the audience and the poet” created by that practice of performance. To build community, spoken word poets keep metaphor and diction relatively simple and accessible. Richness is instead built through fragmented stories that coalesce into emotional narratives about personal and community concerns.  This understanding of poets’ intentions illuminates their recorded performances.

*Note, citations have a .5 hanging indent and the annotations have a 1-inch indent. 

APA 7th Annotated Bibliography Examples


Ontiveros, R. J. (2014). In the spirit of a new people: The cultural politics of the Chicano movement. New York University Press.
Ontiveros argues that the arts provide an expression of the Chicano movement that circumvents neoliberalism and connects historic struggles to current lived experience. Chicano artists have integrated environmentalism and feminism with the Chicano movement in print media, visual arts, theater, and novels since the 1970s. While focused on art, this book also provides a history of the coalition politics connecting the Chicano movement to other social justice struggles.


Journal article

Alvarez, N. & Mearns, J. (2014). The benefits of writing and performing in the spoken word poetry community. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(3), 263-268.
Prior research has shown narrative writing to help with making meaning out of trauma. This article uses grounded theory to analyze semi-structured interviews with ten spoken word poets.  Because spoken word poetry is performed live, it creates personal and community connections that enhance the emotional development and resolution offered by the practice of writing. The findings are limited by the small, nonrandom sample (all the participants were from the same community).

Creating an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with a short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.

Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles.  The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.

Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:

  •     Main focus or purpose of the work
  •     Usefulness or relevance to your research topic 
  •     Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
  •     Background and credibility of the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by the author
  •     Conclusions or observations reached by you

Annotations versus abstracts

Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article, to help you decide whether you should read the entire article.  This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation.  The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.

Questions to develop an annotation

After you read the source, answer these questions to help you come up with the 4-6 sentences. 

  1. Summary: What was the article about? What was the main point? Pro-tip, avoid using the first person (words like I, we, you, etc.) here.
  2. Why is this source useful or relevant? Why would you potentially use this for your research? (If you were conducting research on this topic)
  3. What conclusions are reached and how does this author support them? Find an example from the data presented that best illustrates the value of the source.
  4. Evaluation: How reliable is the source? Pro-tip: things to consider: Author's credibility, content & coverage, timeliness, accuracy and objectivity.

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