An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with 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. NOTE: For History majors and historians the citation style format of choice is The Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian. The other 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.
Compiling an Annotated Bibliography in Chicago Style (Red Deer Library & More)
Visit this helpful guide to learn more about how to approach building your annotated bibliography.
The authors of this guide point out that,
"An annotated bibliography is the same as a “regular” bibliography (also known as a Works Cited or References list), with the addition of annotations (short paragraphs about each source). Two types of annotated bibliographies are the most common:
Descriptive: annotations describe the content of a source
Evaluative: annotations describe AND critically evaluate the source"