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What is an annotated bibliography?

  • An Annotated Bibliography is somewhat like a "research paper without the paper." It is a targeted list of relevant, high-quality, accurate sources on a topic, with a brief description (annotation) following each source. Annotations briefly describe the source and often evaluate it and add your reactions/reflections.
  • An Annotated Bibliography looks like  an APA References List plus annotations (brief paragraph follows each reference describing/evaluating it in your own words)   Source: Publication Manual, 9.51, p.  307. Each reference should give complete information so that readers can find the sources.
  • Don't copy annotations from article, abstract, Amazon, etc. Use your own words and ideas. 
  • Sample Annotated Bibliography in  Publication Manual Figure 9.3, p. 308. 
  • Your Course instructor sets format for APA 7th bibliography, including type/number of references, length/structure of annotations. Look at assignment rubric and ask instructor to post examples on Blackboard. 
  • An Annotated Bibliography, unlike "regular" APA research papers, has no in-text citations. Include an in-text citation only if you're mentioning another item on the list.


Steps in Preparing an Annotated Bibliography

  1. Find sources related to topic. Course instructor can help with topic selection.
  2. Critically read and evaluate sources, and choose best to include.
  3. Create  APA 7th citation for each source. Each source double-spaced and has a 0.5" hanging indent.
  4. Open a Word document and list sources alphabetically. Suggested title: Annotated Bibliography: Subject of Paper (bolded and centered)
  5. Type an annotation for each source. Each annotation is a double-spaced paragraph under the source, indented 0.5" to line up with the hanging indent of the source they follow.
  6. Proofread. Do you have enough sources of each type, and are APA citations correct? Did you put annotations in your own words, and not copy and paste?

Where do I find sources for my annotated bibliography?

There are no set  APA rules about number of references or length of annotations. Follow your assignment rubric. Usually you will need scholarly resources, including:

(1) Scholarly/peer-reviewed journals

(2) Scholarly books

(3) Reputable websites

(1) Peer-reviewed (scholarly) articles: find in One-Search, Databases, or Library Research Guides Databases tab. Read the entire article, not just the abstract (summary). Usually a hyperlink will open the full article in another window.


One-Search (WKU Libraries' catalog and more) gets you started finding peer-reviewed articles. Here is a guide to using One-Search.

Look for this symbol 

Under "Tweak your Results," click [peer reviewed] and [apply filters] to find just peer-reviewed:



Databases are your second go-to for scholarly journal articles. WKU Libraries' YouTube channel has brief database videos. Most databases let you limit to peer-reviewed:

Library Research Guides

Library Research Guides are a third place to find  scholarly articles. Select subject, then [Articles and Databases].  Example below is from Public Health, and lists good databases to search.

(2) Scholarly books

  • Find books at WKU Libraries or other source. Here's how to search our online catalog, called One-Search. Get the entire book -- an Amazon listing is not enough.

Example: book on Tigers from WKU Libraries. Location highlighted. [Citation] helps format citation (check against Publication Manual):

Example Two: Ebook at WKU Libraries. Click and sign in with WKU NetID/password to view online:

Reputable websites, especially those of governments, universities, professional organizations, or nonprofit groups (.org, .gov., .edu). You can use a Web browser such as Google. Evaluate carefully:

  • Currency: Do links work? When was last update? Does website link to latest information?
  • Coverage: Focused on my research topic? Good scope and depth? Accessible without payment or special software?
  • Authority: Who wrote the content and what are their qualifications? Can I contact them?
  • Accuracy: Is content truthful and without obvious bias?
  • Purpose: Why was this content created? Is there an "About Us" tab? What is the domain? Are they selling/promoting something?

How to Find Websites:

(1) Use a Web browser such as Google.

(2) Library Research Guides also help find websites. Look for the [Websites] tab:

(3) Your course textbook. often lists good subject websites.

Putting Citations in APA 7th Format

Create an APA 7th citation for each source in your Annotated Bibliography and list them alphabetically.   

How do I put my sources in APA 7th format?

Publication Manual, Chapter 10, p. 315-352, is authoritative source for APA. Full guide is print-only.

APA Style  APA online source with reference examples.

WKU Libraries has APA 7th citation examples for articles, books and Internet sources.

Several other sources can help put citations in APA 7th format. Click on tabs above to see more resources. Always double-check for accuracy. 

  • One-Search, Library Databases, and Google Scholar have a [cite] button
  • Internet help sites
  • Citation formatters
  • Reference manager such as Zotero or Endnote. Integrates with Word.

Example One: One-Search Cite button

Click [...] at upper right:

Then click the Cite " button:

Select [APA] and copy and paste your APA citation. Note that One-Search still uses 6th edition. Proofread carefully: capital letters, elements of citation correct, hanging indent, and DOI (if any):

Example Two: EBSCOhost cite button

Click title hyperlink to display full record:

Click [Cite] on right of full EBSCOhost record:

Then scroll to see APA citation:


Now use your critical thinking skills ... does this APA citation include the author, date, title, and source, formatted exactly like the examples from the Publication Manual and APA StyleCould your reader follow the URL or DOI (if any) to find this source?

Always check the APA template to make sure citation is correct. Our database has incorrectly added "" to the DOI. This is incorrect because someone not at WKU couldn't follow this link. Test by copying/pasting into a Web browser.

Here is corrected citation:

Tarnopolsky, A., Fletcher, N., Hollenberg, L., Lange, B., Smith, J., & Wolfe, J. (2005). Acoustics: The vocal tract and the sound of a didgeridoo. Nature436(7047), 39.

Zotero Annotated Bibliography Style

If you'd like to use Zotero to create an annotated bibliography in APA or Chicago style, you can use a custom citation style designed specifically to output annotations.