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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 source you listed 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:


Links to cite it for you:


CiteFast 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.