Structure of Annotated Bibliographies
When preparing a bibliography of more than a page in length, you might want to consider ways of arranging the material that would help the user navigate through your bibliography and understand the nature of the materials cited. One way of doing this is through the use of subdivisions. For example, in a lengthy bibliography, you may want to divide the material in your bibliography in some of the following ways:
- by subtopic
- by date of publication
- by time period covered (century, era, decade, event, year)
- by type of publication (books, articles, reviews, Web pages, etc.)
If you decide to divide up your bibliography, include a heading for each category or subdivision. You might also consider writing introductory paragraphs for the different sections of your bibliography. Sometimes your headings will be fairly self-explanatory, but in other cases you may want to provide a description and overview of the material listed in the different parts in order to give your reader a more thorough sense of the choices you made in constructing your bibliography.
Writing Style and Content of Annotations
Citation: You may want or need to use an official style of documentation, like the MLA, APA, or Chicago formats. Be sure to check with your professor. The library guide on Academic Citation and Writing might be useful to consult. If you are not required to use an official style of documentation, you should at least be internally consistent in the way you cite your sources, in other words, cite all the books in your bibliography in the same way, cite all the journal articles in the same way, and so forth.
Mechanics: An annotation is not written in the usual academic style. This is one time incomplete sentences are acceptable in a scholarly production. You can choose to use either complete sentences, phrases, or some combination of both. Some of the best annotated bibliographies skillfully combine detailed information in sentences with brief notes in phrases or sentence fragments. Again, check with your professor to determine the requirements for your assignment.
Content: The content of annotations should incorporate the information you gathered during your research, as described in the section of this guide on examining sources. In addition, annotations often include biographical information about the author of each item and a description of each item conveying the number of pages, size in inches, or any other interesting physical characteristics (noting the presence of illustrations, maps, charts, and so forth).