Do you sometimes reach the end of a semester and can’t remember anything about texts you read at the start of the course? Or, have you compiled a long list of Works Cited for a project and find that the sources are starting to run together in your mind? An annotated bibliography could help with that! For this series, “Focus on Forms,” we’ll be highlighting writing forms you may encounter in your courses and delve into any unique qualities they hold, beginning with annotated bibliographies.
Annotated bibliographies are like Works Cited pages with opinions—housing collections of sources with a short synthesis that may include a brief summary, key themes relevant between items, and how these sources contribute to your project’s goal. This index of citations evolves from a static list with the added information that assesses the accuracy of the pieces and relevance to your overall research goals. They can also be a bit tricky because annotations depend on concise, powerful execution to not only capture key elements of the text but also reflect their importance to your research project or interests. This is a curated collection; the pieces selected should consider what is unique about each text and how it contributes to the collection as a whole. Annotating a bibliography can help solidify a text’s resonance with your research or assignment and bring out new directions for your project (or remind you what ideas belong to what text at the end of a long semester). All in all, an annotated bibliography can test your research skills, synthesizing abilities, and increase your capacity to write concisely and powerfully to create a highly useful reference document.
For more on the mechanics of creating an annotated bibliography, check out Purdue OWL’s excellent breakdown (with links to guidelines for MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations): https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/annotated_bibliographies/annotated_bibliography_samples.html .
Want to learn more about creating a curated source list? Chat with a librarian during their “Ask a Librarian” hours online, over the phone, or in person at the McNairy Library: https://www.library.millersville.edu/home .
Have questions about bibliographies, sources, citations and more? The Millersville Writing Center is ready to help: https://www.millersville.edu/enwl/writing-center/ .