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APA Style Annotated Bibliography: Definition and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography? Why write an annotated bibliography? How is an annotated bibliography summary written?

Annotated Bibliographies

A bibliography is a list of sources on a particular topic. Put together, an annotated bibliography is a list of sources on a topic that offers a summary for each source.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (or references) for books, articles, documents, etc: all the sources used for your research, with an accompanying paragraph that describes, explains and/or evaluates each entry in terms of quality, authority and relevance.

What is included in the summary part of an annotated bibliography?

Your summary should include the following elements:

(1) a sentence or two that describes the author's credentials, purpose, and audience.

(2) a brief summary of its content, and is this source answering the research question; clarifying your understanding of the research; reviewing the literature of the research, etc.

(3) a sentence at the end of the summary that explains its value to the student.

5-minute Video: Formatting APA Annotated Bibliography

Looking for Scholarly Annotated Bibliographies?

Sample APA Annotations

Your professor may require some variation of standard APA-style annotation. Two examples are illustrated below.

Sample Annotation from the Purdue OWL

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.
An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide.