Creating An Annotated Bibliography For A Research Paper


When you are working on a research paper, one of the final elements to your organization will be the bibliography, or the reference page. This is where you are to include any sources that you referred to during the course of your research. This is where you list all sources that you cited, quoted from, or referred to indirectly inside of your research paper.

There are times when your teacher may ask you to provide your list of sources before you finish writing the research paper. Many times teachers want to verify that you truly understand how to search for relevant information and that you know how to find appropriate academic resources. You should use this as a learning exercise. Often, during the course of this exercise, teachers will request that students submit an annotated bibliography for their research paper for approval prior to writing the paper.

When you are asked to submit an annotated bibliography your job is to write out the references that you are going to use in whatever style is required for your research paper.

Your teacher might ask that you use:

  • Chicago style
  • MLA style
  • APA style
  • Or Harvard style

In any case, once you have the references written out correctly, it is appropriate to include an annotation directly beneath each of your sources. The annotation is a short paragraph where you include information about what this source contains and how it is helpful. You can think of it as a way of showing your teacher what information the source has and why you will use it in your paper. If, for example, you include a source from a magazine, you need to use the annotation paragraph to explain that the magazine presents statistically relevant data to your thesis statement and then summarize what information is presented in the article.

The other purpose here is to prove to your teacher that you have put some thought into the sources you are selecting and you have already reviewed them. Teachers do not want you just picking sources which have related keywords in their title, only to find out that they are unrelated after you have begun writing your paper. You can choose to double space your paragraph or single space the paragraph based on whatever reference style your teacher has required of you. If you are unsure of what is required, you should ask your teacher for clarification.