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Write an Annotated Bibliography

Example 1: MLA Style

When using MLA Style, the information should be presented as follows:

  • indented 1-inch from the left margin
  • double-spaced within the annotations and between entries
  • all subsequent lines of the annotation should be indented a further ½ inch

In the following example, the critical comments are highlighted in bold text.

Fisher, Alexander J. “Paul Hindemith, Gottfried Benn, and the Defense of the Autonomy of Art in the Late Weimar Republic.” Hispanic Journal of  Behavioral Sciences 28 (1999): 11-53.

A useful but uneven article suggesting that Hindemith’s desire to collaborate with Brecht and Benn was motivated by his desire to maintain the artistic autonomy of music against its appropriation by various social agendas (Lehrstück and Lindberghflug as a reaction to the cultural conservatism of the Jugendmusikbewegung; Das Unaufhörliche as a reaction to Brecht’s socialism). Hindemith’s incomplete understanding of the collaborators’ agendas may not have been entirely his fault, as Brecht’s thought was undergoing radicalization during and after the collaborations; Benn’s nihilism was much less known by the reading public than was his stance on art, and his susceptibility to Nazi ideology apparent only in retrospect.  All this is correct up to a point; however, the article falters, as did Hindemith, by failing to acknowledge or challenge the leftist critique that artistic autonomy itself entails a socio-political agenda.  Perhaps this explains Fisher’s account of Hindemith’s attempt to achieve a modus vivendi with the Nazis, which includes the obligatory citations from the Mathis libretto, but is disturbing for being offered (in stark contrast to his analyses of the Brecht and Benn collaborations) almost entirely without commentary, let alone critical evaluation.

Source of the example:

Luttman, Stephen, Paul Hindemith: A Guide to Research (New York: Routledge, 2005).

Example 2: APA Style

The APA Publication Manual does not provide formal guidelines for annotated bibliographies, but it suggests that the following layout would fit well in a paper otherwise formatted in APA style.

  • double-spacing
  • hanging indents for the second and following lines of the citation
  • a space between the citation and the annotation
  • all of the lines in the annotation must be indented two more spaces than the hanging indent 

In the following example, the critical comments, which focus on methodological questions and usefulness, are highlighted in bold text.

Thompson, L. (1992). Feminist methodology for family studies. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 54, 3-18.

Research methodology encompasses agenda, epistemology, ethics, and methods. Thompson illustrates each of these aspects of methodology with feminist examples from family studies. In so doing, she moves the literature of feminist research beyond the debate of qualitative versus quantitative methods. This article can be assigned to students regardless of whether they are using a feminist perspective in order to assist them in clarifying for themselves how they are addressing these aspects of methodology in their own research.

Source of the example:

Humble, Áine M., et al., “Feminism and Mentoring of Graduate Students,” Family Relations 55 (January 2006): 2.

Example 3: Chicago Style

Chicago Style has two systems of formatting the actual citation (but not the annotation), depending on whether you use notes (footnotes/endnotes) or the author-date system.  Be sure to check the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style on Chicago referencing style to find out the differences.

This example follows Chicago’s “notes and bibliography” citation style.

  • single-spacing
  • a hanging indent after the first line of the citation
  • the rest of the annotation continues on with the same hanging indent

In the following example, the bolded text in the second sentence indicates the writer's analysis of the rhetorical methods used in the source.

Sedgewick, R. “The Proper Sphere and Influence of Women in Christian Society [1856].” In The Proper Sphere: Woman’s Place in Canadian Society, edited by R. Cook and W. Mitchinson, 8–34. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1976.

This is the text of a November 1856 speech that Reverend Robert Sedgewick delivered at the Halifax YMCA. Focusing on the biblical debate that women are meant to be the help-meets of men, Sedgewick relies on ridicule, sarcasm and fear-mongering to argue that it is in the best interest of society to restrict women from courses of education that would take them outside of the home. This speech serves as an excellent example of the tactics and rhetoric employed by those opposed to equality in educational and professional opportunities. 

Source of the example:

Wilson, Mary, “Women and Domestic Science. University-Based Education in North America: An Annotated Bibliography” (unpublished essay, University of Toronto, 2004).

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