28 Annotated Bibliographies

If you’re assigned a research paper, you may be required to write an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a list of sources that you’ve gathered for use in your paper, similar to a works cited page; however, the source citations are followed by summaries of the sources, and you may include sources in your annotated bibliography that you haven’t actually cited in your paper . These summaries should cover the source’s main points and evidence.

Annotated Bibliography Entry

A sample entry for an annotated bibliography will look something like this:

Elliott, Luther, et al. “Video Game Genre as a Predictor of Problem Use.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 15, no. 3, Mar. 2012, pp. 155-161. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0387.

In their scholarly article, “Video Game Genre as a Predictor of Problem Use,” Luther Elliott et al argue something about video games that I could probably find in the abstract. They support this argument by discussing survey results sent to adult video gamers about types of games played and time spent playing. Their purpose is to discover which game types lead to addictive behavior in order to better understand, treat, and prevent video game addiction. They write I will use this article to support my claims about how game addiction is partially a problem in certain types of video games.

If your assignment requires MLA rules, the document will be double-spaced with one-inch margins, just like a research paper.


Above, you see an MLA 8 citation followed by the bones of a rhetorical precis. The rhetorical precis is a four sentence paragraph that highlights the most important information in the text. It is very formulaic. The first sentence names the author, the work, and their thesis. The second sentence explains how the author(s) develop and support their claim using evidence. The third sentence displays the author’s purpose, followed by an “in order to” phrase. Finally, the fourth sentence states the intended audience and the tone in which the author writes.

For a more detailed breakdown of the rhetorical precis with examples and a worksheet, go here.

Annotated bibliographies can guide your research papers. Summarizing an article’s argument and the author’s evidence helps you determine the best information to use from each of your sources. In the “Integrating Source Material” section of this text, you learned that one quotation could potentially build a whole paragraph. As you complete each of your annotated bibliography’s entries, you can be drafting your paper, or a significant portion of it, by finding quotes from your sources.

If you’re assigned an annotated bibliography, be sure to follow your instructor’s requirements an ask your instructor if you have any questions.


You can find a sample annotated bibliography with an introductory paragraph here, and a template for formatting your document.


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Writing and Rhetoric by Heather Hopkins Bowers; Anthony Ruggiero; and Jason Saphara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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