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APA Style Annotated Bibliography: Definition and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography? Why write an annotated bibliography? This guide will show you how and why your Bibliography and Annotations are important to the research process.

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 (or an annotation) for each source.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography basically an enhanced References page. Like the References page, it is a list of citations (or references) for all the sources (books, articles, documents, etc.) used for your research. At the end of each citation, you simply add a short paragraph that describes, explains and/or evaluates each entry in terms of quality, authority and relevance.

What is included in the summary part (or annotation) of an annotated bibliography?
Your annotation/summary should include the following elements:
(1) a sentence or two that describes the article source (journal article / blog post / book, etc.); purpose (consumer information / academic article / trade and/or marketing, etc.), and audience (general public / trade professionals / educators, etc.);

(2) a brief summary of its content (you may find this within the article abstract);

(3) a sentence at the end of the summary that explains its value to the studentHow does this source help to answer your research question? Where does it fit in your paper?

How do I Write an Annotation?

Keep in mind that annotations are supposed to highlight the most important points of a resource. If you’re struggling to keep your annotations short, make sure you’re not getting too specific - if people reading your bibliography want to know more, they can find the work and read it directly. 

Sample APA Style Annotated Bibliographies


The Annotated Bibliography is formatted exactly like your References page. 

- Citations appear in alphabetical order.

- Double-spaced throughout.
- Full Citation first / then the annotation. 
- Hanging indent for first line of each citation.
- Start the annotation on a new line, but keep it indented within the margins of the citation.
- Use the third person – do not use “I.”
- Use the literary present tense.
Examples: “This article discusses…” ; “In this article, the author supports…”: “This book gives a detailed view on…," “The author describes…"


Citation -  First Line of Citation begins at Left Margin.  Use a ½” Hanging Indent. Annotation -  Appears begins on a new line, directly under the last line of the citation.



The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citations:

Annotated Bibliography

Topic: Does the internet make jury bias more likely today than it did twenty years ago?

Thesis Statement: Pretrial publicity for high-profile crimes has become more difficult to overcome by a change of venue and sequestering of juries since the internet makes the news available to a larger portion of the population at incredibly fast rates.

Central Intelligence Agency. (2010). Country comparison: Internet users. The World Factbook Online.
The CIA Fact Book provides statistics on internet users in the United States compared to other countries. The Fact Book website is produced by the United States Central Intelligence Agency which is a trusted source of information. The internet user statistics gives a date of 2008 which was more recent than other similar statistic websites. The statistics are given in a graphical display with numbers next to each country, ranked in order of the highest user. The graphics are clear and appropriate for the statistics and give a comparison of up to 216 countries, a high sample size.

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. (2010, March 1). Understanding the participatory news consumer. Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism uses empirical data to study the performance and methods of the news media in today’s society. This study was very recently done and shows the statistics behind new technologies and the way people use them to get involved with the news through social contacts. The Pew Research Center expresses itself as an unbiased source of information. This study in particular contains well-researched and organized data necessary in understanding the changing world of journalism.

Ruva, C., McEvoy, C., & Bryant, J. B. (2007). Effects of pretrial publicity and jury deliberation on juror bias and source memory errors. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21, 45-67. doi: 10.1002/acp.1254
This journal article provides research into pretrial publicity when a jury deliberates a case. The authors’ credentials are listed and the journal is a well-respected scholarly journal in the psychology field. The article is timely and provides a scientific explanation rather than a social one in understanding how jurors exposure to pretrial publicity can unwittingly influence their decision.

U.S. Department of State. (2009, July). Anatomy of a jury trial. eJournal USA, 14(7), 1-45.
In this e-journal published by the US Department of State the reader is led through the roles played by all participants in a US jury trial. This journal presents an unbiased view of each person’s role as well as common legal terms used at trials. This information is important in understanding the basic tenets of American law during a trial. 

US v. Skilling, 554 F.3d 529 (5th Cir. 2009). Google Scholar.
This is a United States Supreme Court case heard in March of 2010 as to whether or not Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling received a fair trial in part based on pretrial media exposure by the jury. The case’s currency makes this topic more relevant than older cases. The brief was found from a Google Scholar Legal search and simply states the facts as read by the Supreme Court in granting Skilling an audience.


Links to cite it for you:


This Citation generator provides both complete APA Citations and also pre-formatted In-text Citations.

 - KnightCite Citation Service  

KnightCite is an online citation generator service provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College.

Purdue Owl

The rules of how to use in-text citations and cite anything tricky for MLA or APA papers.

Scribber APA Citation Generator

Worldcat (for citing printed books)

Find your book and click on the “cite” tool at the top right of the screen.