A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "references" or "works cited" depending on the style format you are using.
An annotation is a summary and/or an evaluation of a source.
Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources listed. Depending on your project or assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:
Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
Why should I write an annotated bibliography?
Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you will start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.
The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need more space.
Voter Apathy: An Annotated Bibliography
Voter turnout has continued to decline in America. Research suggests that the primary cause for voter apathy is that politicians are boring.
Andrews, Aaron Aardvark. "What, Me Vote? Get Outta Here!" New Reporter. 27 March
1994: 31-39. Print.
Andrews investigates the prevailing attitude of a large segment of American society that voting is a waste of time. Included in his article are results from a survey of 5000 former voters. Although brief, Andrews' discussion is key to understanding why so many Americans don't vote.
Ballistic, Byron B. "Fry Them Turkeys! Politicians Are Crooks." Revolt and Rejection: an
Interdisciplinary Journal of Political Science 35 (March 1993): 37-58. Print.
Ballistic provides valuable analysis of why American voters are so disenchanted with American politicians. The article is extensively researched and provides a useful bibliography of research articles that include voter surveys.
Dimwitty, Walter C. "A Brief History of the Urge to Sleep Through Televised
National Election Returns." New Narcolepsy. PA: SleepWalk Press, 1992. Print
This collection of essays pulls together research on voter apathy from the early 1960s through 1993. The variety of viewpoints represented here and the historical comparisons presented are the major strengths of this collection.
Dunnow, I. "Predictors of Young Adult Voting Behavior; the Beavis and Butthead'
Experience." Annals of Antipathy 30.1 (1995): 57-98. Print.
Dunnow's humorous satire of young voters also includes considerable research. Included are results of four surveys of first time voters conducted during the 1990s. Dunnow's tongue-in-cheek approach to developing his article entertains but doesn't distract the reader from the issues covered in the article.
Faulty, Brain A.M. A Study of Why People Don't Vote. St. Paul, MN: Say So Press, Inc.,
This detailed analysis of the growing apathy among American voters comes to some startling conclusions. One of the more interesting is that 60% of American men who leave work early to vote go instead to happy hour. One of the more useful chapters in the book is devoted to a state-by-state canvassing of voters and non-voters. Results are delivered in statistical tables and illustrated with bar graphs.
MLA 2009 Works Cited Page: Basic Format