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APA Annotated Bibliography Guide With Examples

You just got the hand of bibliographies, but now your teacher is requesting an APA annotated bibliography. You can feel the sweat beading on your forehead and the panic starting to set in. First of all, don’t panic. Creating an annotated bibliography in APA format is as simple as 1, 2, 3. Well maybe not that simple, but it’s not as hard as you think. Learn the ins and outs of creating an APA 7 annotated bibliography from the citation to the annotation.

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APA Annotated Bibliography Overview

So, your instructor asked you to develop an annotated bibliography in APA 7 style. But what is an APA annotated bibliography? It’s a bibliography that provides annotations about your different sources. These annotations can be summative, evaluative, or reflective. This type of bibliography may be created as its own paper, rather than attached to the end of a research paper. When creating an annotated bibliography, you find a topic to research, then look for sources on that subject.

APA Annotated Bibliography Example

See an APA annotated bibliography example in action.

APA annotated bibliography example

How to Format an APA Annotated Bibliography

Formatting your annotated bibliography is the same as formatting an APA reference list. You use the same author-date style and place the elements in the same order. Here’s a quick rundown of the guidelines:

  • Right-aligned page number
  • Running header (Optional)
  • One-inch margins
  • Double spaced
  • The title “Annotated Bibliography” centered
  • Hanging indent for second and subsequent lines of the citation
  • Indent annotation five spaces

example annotated bibliography APA

Creating Your Citation in APA

After your APA annotated bibliography is formatted, you create a citation for each entry. The composition of your citation varies based on the type of source you are using. For example, a book citation in APA is different than a journal citation. Therefore, when creating your citation, use the format APA has designated for that specific source.

APA book citation labeled diagram

Composing an APA Annotation

The first step to creating your APA annotations is knowing what you want to tell your instructor about the source. You can provide a summary, evaluation, or reflection of each source. Although your instructor may provide guidelines, expect to evaluate the following aspects of each source:

  • Authority of the source
  • Overview of information in the source
  • Value to your research

The length of your bibliographic entry depends on your instructor’s guidelines but typically is about 100-300 words.

Organizing an APA Bibliography 

An annotated bibliography is organized in the same manner as the reference list. Alphabetize using the letter by letter system by the author’s last name.

The Purpose of an APA Annotated Bibliography

An APA bibliography with annotations might seem useless but it has a very important purpose. It helps you to become a better researcher and focus your APA research topic.

For example, if you decide to write an APA school paper on abnormal psychology, you may find that is too broad of a subject. You can then narrow the focus until you find the exact subject matter you want to pursue in your research. For example, narrow the larger subject of abnormal psychology to the medical theory and then how Hippocrates’ ideas contributed to the development of that theory.

Where to Find APA Research Sources

When preparing an annotated bibliography, it’s good to have a variety of primary and secondary sources. It’s easy to go online and find content from websites, online newspapers, and magazines. But, you need to focus on authoritative sources, such as government or educational websites, scholarly journals, and books. Need more help? Stop by your school or local library and ask the reference librarian — they are there to help you.

Creating the Perfect Bibliography Every Time

Creating a bibliography in APA can be difficult, but when you add annotations, it’s a whole new ball game. Make sure you are ready to play the game in the academic field by having all the rules for any APA style project at your fingertips. And if you need more help with APA citations and formatting, check out the APA format guide.

Related Articles:

FAQ APA Annotated Bibliography Guide With Examples

How do you write an APA annotated bibliography?

To write an APA annotated bibliography, you need to include the title "Annotated Bibliography," the citation, and the annotation. The citation varies based on the type of sources you use, such as a book, journal, or website. The annotation includes a summary, evaluation, reflection, or all three.

Is an APA annotated bibliography double spaced?

Yes, an APA annotated bibliography is double spaced. An APA annotated bibliography follows the same formatting requirements as the APA reference list.

How long should an APA annotated bibliography be?

The length of an APA annotated bibliography varies based on the number of annotations you include. However, the annotations for each source are typically between 100-300 words.

Do you indent an APA annotated bibliography?

Yes, you indent an APA annotated bibliography. The annotation in an APA annotated bibliography is indented 5 spaces to line up with the APA citation's hanging indent.

Does an annotated bibliography have to be in alphabetical order APA?

Yes, an APA annotated bibliography is listed in alphabetical order. An APA annotated bibliography follows the same formatting guidelines as the APA reference list, including the rules for headers, titles, margins, spacing, and organization in alphabetical order.

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