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How to Annotate an Article

Last Updated: September 26, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 394,329 times.

Annotating a text means that you take notes in the margins and make other markings for reading comprehension. Many people use annotation as part of academic research or to further their understanding of a certain work. To annotate an article, you'll need to ask questions as you go through the text, focus on themes, circle terms you don't understand, and write your opinions on the text's claims. You can annotate an article by hand or with an online note-taking program.

Following General Annotation Procedures

Step 1 Recognize why you should annotate.

  • Background on the author
  • Themes throughout the text
  • The author’s purpose for writing the text
  • The author’s thesis
  • Points of confusion
  • How the text compares to other texts you are analyzing on the same topic
  • Questions to ask your teacher or questions to bring up in class discussions

Step 2 Mark down the source information.

  • Later on, you can gather all of these citations together to form a bibliography or works cited page, if required.
  • If you are working with a source that frequently changes, such as a newspaper or website, make sure to mark down the accession date or number (the year the piece was acquired and/or where it came from).

Step 3 Understand your reading goals.

  • If you were given an assignment sheet with listed objectives, you might look over your completed annotation and check off each objective when finished. This will ensure that you’ve met all of the requirements.

Step 4 Annotate as you read the article.

  • You can also write down questions that you plan to bring up during a class discussion. For example, you might write, “What does everyone think about this sentence?” Or, if your reading connects to a future writing assignment, you can ask questions that connect to that work.

Step 6 Focus on themes and connections to your class topics.

  • You could write, “Connects to the theme of hope and redemption discussed in class.”

Step 7 Circle words or concepts that you don’t understand.

  • Use whatever symbol marking system works for you. Just make sure that you are consistent in your use of certain symbols.
  • As you review your notes, you can create a list of all of the particular words that are circled. This may make it easier to look them up.
  • For example, if the tone of the work changes mid-paragraph, you might write a question mark next to that section.

Step 8 Pay attention to the thesis and topic sentences.

  • To increase your reading comprehension even more, you might want to write down the thesis statement in the margins in your own words.
  • The thesis sentence might start with a statement, such as, “I argue…”

Step 9 Research the author.

  • For example, reading online reviews can help you to determine whether or not the work is controversial or has been received without much fanfare.
  • If there are multiple authors for the work, start by researching the first name listed.

Step 10 Write down your opinions.

  • You might write, “This may contradict any earlier section.” Or, “I don’t agree with this.”

Annotating an Article by Hand

Step 1 Make a photocopy of the article.

  • You can also file away this paper copy for future reference as you continue your research.

Step 2 Choose a writing tool.

  • If you are visual learner, you might consider developing a notation system involving various colors of highlighters and flags.

Step 3 Create a separate notation page, if needed.

  • Depending on how you’ve taken your notes, you could also remove these Post-its to create an outline prior to writing.

Step 5 Complete an annotation paragraph.

  • This rough annotation can then be used to create a larger annotated bibliography. This will help you to see any gaps in your research as well. [11] X Research source

Annotating an Article on a Webpage

Step 1 Download an online note-taking program.

  • You could also use a program, such as Evernote, MarkUp.io, Bounce, Shared Copy, WebKlipper, or Springnote. Be aware that some of these programs may require a payment for access.

Step 2 Navigate to the webpage on which your article is posted.

  • Depending on your program, you may be able to respond to other people’s comments. You can also designate your notes as private or public.

Step 5 Save the annotation, if you want to clip it and use it outside of the web.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Annotating takes extra time, so make sure to set aside enough time for you to complete your work. [15] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • If traditional annotation doesn’t appeal to you, then create a dialectical journal where you write down any quotes that speak to you. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

article annotate example

  • If you end up integrating your notes into a written project, make sure to keep your citation information connected. Otherwise, you run the risk of committing plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Take Better Notes

  • ↑ https://research.ewu.edu/writers_c_read_study_strategies
  • ↑ http://penandthepad.com/annotate-newspaper-article-7730073.html
  • ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Annotating-a-Text/
  • ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/annotating-texts/
  • ↑ https://www.biologycorner.com/worksheets/annotate.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/annotated_bibliographies/annotated_bibliography_samples.html
  • ↑ https://elearningindustry.com/the-5-best-free-annotation-tools-for-teachers
  • ↑ http://www.macworld.com/article/1162946/software-productivity/how-to-annotate-pdfs.html
  • ↑ http://www.une.edu/sites/default/files/Reading-and-Annotating.pdf

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

To annotate an article, start by underlining the thesis, or the main argument that the author is making. Next, underline the topic sentences for each paragraph to help you focus on the themes throughout the text. Then, in the margins, write down any questions that you have or those that you’d like your teacher to help you answer. Additionally, jot down your opinions, such as “I don’t agree with this section” to create personal connections to your reading and make it easier to remember the information. For more advice from our Education reviewer, including how to annotate an article on a web page, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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10 Best Ways to Annotate an Article: Examples & Tips 2024

10 Best Ways to Annotate an Article Examples  Tips 2024

Here are 10 important statistics about article annotation

  • 1. 85% of readers find annotated articles more engaging and informative.
  • 2. 70% of students who annotate their readings have better comprehension.
  • 3. 60% of professionals use annotation tools to enhance their productivity.
  • 4. 95% of educators believe that annotation improves critical thinking skills.
  • 5. 80% of researchers use annotations to organize their findings.
  • 6. 75% of readers prefer articles with visual annotations.
  • 7. 90% of readers find annotations helpful in understanding complex topics.
  • 8. 65% of readers share annotated articles with their peers.
  • 9. 55% of readers revisit annotated articles for reference.
  • 10. 50% of readers are more likely to remember information from annotated articles.

1. Highlighting and Underlining

1  highlighting and underlining

Highlighting and underlining are simple yet effective ways to annotate an article. By marking important sentences or phrases, you can easily identify key points when reviewing the article later. Use different colors to categorize different types of information, such as main ideas , supporting evidence, or examples.

Here's an example where I've used AtOnce's AI review response generator to make customers happier:

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Highlight the main idea of each paragraph in yellow, supporting evidence in green, and examples in pink.

2. Margin Notes

2  margin notes

Margin notes allow you to jot down your thoughts, questions, or additional insights directly next to the relevant text. This method helps you engage with the content and encourages critical thinking. Use abbreviations or symbols to save space and make your notes more concise.

Write "Q" for questions, "!" for interesting points, and "NB" for important information in the margins.

3. Summarizing

3  summarizing

Summarizing an article in your own words is an effective way to ensure comprehension and retention. By condensing the main ideas and key details into a concise summary, you can easily review the article later without having to read the entire text again.

Write a one-sentence summary for each paragraph, capturing the main idea and supporting details.

4. Annotating with Sticky Notes

4  annotating with sticky notes

Using sticky notes allows you to add longer annotations or comments without cluttering the article itself. You can write additional explanations, personal reflections, or connections to other sources on the sticky notes and place them strategically throughout the article.

Add sticky notes to highlight important quotes, provide context, or make connections to related articles.

5. Visual Annotations

5  visual annotations

Visual annotations, such as diagrams, charts, or mind maps, can help you visualize complex concepts and relationships within the article. These visual representations enhance understanding and make it easier to recall information later.

Create a mind map to illustrate the main ideas and their connections in the article.

6. Cross-Referencing

When annotating an article, it's helpful to cross-reference information with other reliable sources . This allows you to verify facts, gather additional insights, and deepen your understanding of the topic.

Add references to related articles, books, or research papers that support or challenge the ideas presented in the article.

7. Using Symbols and Abbreviations

7  using symbols and abbreviations

Using symbols and abbreviations can save time and space when annotating an article. Develop a set of symbols or abbreviations that represent common annotations, such as highlighting, underlining, or indicating important points.

Use "+" to indicate important points, "∆" for new insights, and "!" for surprising facts.

8. Annotating with Digital Tools

8  annotating with digital tools

With the advancement of technology, there are now various digital tools available for annotating articles. These tools offer features like highlighting, commenting, and sharing, making the annotation process more efficient and collaborative.

Use annotation tools like Hypothesis, Diigo, or Evernote to annotate articles digitally and easily share your annotations with others.

9. Collaborative Annotation

Collaborative annotation allows multiple readers to annotate an article together, fostering discussion and knowledge sharing. This approach is particularly useful for educational or research purposes, as it encourages different perspectives and deeper analysis.

Use platforms like Genius or Google Docs to collaboratively annotate articles with classmates, colleagues, or fellow researchers.

10. Reviewing and Revisiting Annotations

Regularly reviewing and revisiting your annotations is crucial for retaining information and reinforcing your understanding of the article. Set aside dedicated time to go through your annotations, reflect on the content, and make connections to other articles or concepts.

Review your annotations every week, summarize the main points, and create flashcards to test your knowledge.

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How do I annotate an article using an example?

To annotate an article, you can start by reading the article thoroughly and highlighting key points or important information. Then, you can add your own comments or thoughts in the margins or using digital annotation tools. An example of annotating an article could be underlining important sentences and writing a brief summary or analysis next to them.

What are some tips for annotating an article effectively?

To annotate an article effectively, it's important to stay focused and engaged while reading. Take notes of key ideas, arguments, or evidence presented in the article. Use symbols or color coding to mark different types of information. Write clear and concise annotations that capture the main points or your own thoughts. Review and revise your annotations to ensure they are accurate and meaningful.

Are there any digital tools available for annotating articles?

Yes, there are several digital tools available for annotating articles. Some popular options include Adobe Acrobat Reader, Evernote, Diigo, and Hypothesis. These tools allow you to highlight, underline, add comments, and even collaborate with others on annotating articles. They also provide features like search, bookmarking, and organizing your annotations for easy reference.

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How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

  • Critical Appraisal & Analysis

Sample Annotations


  • Citation Styles

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article annotate example


The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.

This example uses the MLA format for the journal citation. NOTE: Standard MLA practice requires double spacing within citations.

Waite, Linda J., Frances Kobrin Goldscheider, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review 51.4 (1986): 541-554. Print.

More Sample Annotations

  • ​​ Annotated Bibliography Examples
  • ​ Annotated Bibliography Samples

The University of Toronto offers  an example  that illustrates how to summarize a study's research methods and argument.

The Memorial University of Newfoundland presents  these examples of both descriptive and critical annotations.

The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin gives examples  of the some of the most common forms of annotated bibliographies.

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina gives examples of several different forms of annotated bibliographies in 3 popular citation formats: 

  • MLA Example
  • APA Example
  • CBE Example

This page was adapted with permission from the following:


How to prepare an annotated bibliography Research & Learning Services Olin Library Cornell University Library  Ithaca, NY, USA

  • << Previous: Critical Appraisal & Analysis
  • Next: Process >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 28, 2022 10:35 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.library.nd.edu/annotated-bibliography

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article annotate example

How to Annotate Texts

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Annotation Fundamentals

How to start annotating , how to annotate digital texts, how to annotate a textbook, how to annotate a scholarly article or book, how to annotate literature, how to annotate images, videos, and performances, additional resources for teachers.

Writing in your books can make you smarter. Or, at least (according to education experts), annotation–an umbrella term for underlining, highlighting, circling, and, most importantly, leaving comments in the margins–helps students to remember and comprehend what they read. Annotation is like a conversation between reader and text. Proper annotation allows students to record their own opinions and reactions, which can serve as the inspiration for research questions and theses. So, whether you're reading a novel, poem, news article, or science textbook, taking notes along the way can give you an advantage in preparing for tests or writing essays. This guide contains resources that explain the benefits of annotating texts, provide annotation tools, and suggest approaches for diverse kinds of texts; the last section includes lesson plans and exercises for teachers.

Why annotate? As the resources below explain, annotation allows students to emphasize connections to material covered elsewhere in the text (or in other texts), material covered previously in the course, or material covered in lectures and discussion. In other words, proper annotation is an organizing tool and a time saver. The links in this section will introduce you to the theory, practice, and purpose of annotation. 

How to Mark a Book, by Mortimer Adler

This famous, charming essay lays out the case for marking up books, and provides practical suggestions at the end including underlining, highlighting, circling key words, using vertical lines to mark shifts in tone/subject, numbering points in an argument, and keeping track of questions that occur to you as you read. 

How Annotation Reshapes Student Thinking (TeacherHUB)

In this article, a high school teacher discusses the importance of annotation and how annotation encourages more effective critical thinking.

The Future of Annotation (Journal of Business and Technical Communication)

This scholarly article summarizes research on the benefits of annotation in the classroom and in business. It also discusses how technology and digital texts might affect the future of annotation. 

Annotating to Deepen Understanding (Texas Education Agency)

This website provides another introduction to annotation (designed for 11th graders). It includes a helpful section that teaches students how to annotate reading comprehension passages on tests.

Once you understand what annotation is, you're ready to begin. But what tools do you need? How do you prepare? The resources linked in this section list strategies and techniques you can use to start annotating. 

What is Annotating? (Charleston County School District)

This resource gives an overview of annotation styles, including useful shorthands and symbols. This is a good place for a student who has never annotated before to begin.

How to Annotate Text While Reading (YouTube)

This video tutorial (appropriate for grades 6–10) explains the basic ins and outs of annotation and gives examples of the type of information students should be looking for.

Annotation Practices: Reading a Play-text vs. Watching Film (U Calgary)

This blog post, written by a student, talks about how the goals and approaches of annotation might change depending on the type of text or performance being observed. 

Annotating Texts with Sticky Notes (Lyndhurst Schools)

Sometimes students are asked to annotate books they don't own or can't write in for other reasons. This resource provides some strategies for using sticky notes instead.

Teaching Students to Close Read...When You Can't Mark the Text (Performing in Education)

Here, a sixth grade teacher demonstrates the strategies she uses for getting her students to annotate with sticky notes. This resource includes a link to the teacher's free Annotation Bookmark (via Teachers Pay Teachers).

Digital texts can present a special challenge when it comes to annotation; emerging research suggests that many students struggle to critically read and retain information from digital texts. However, proper annotation can solve the problem. This section contains links to the most highly-utilized platforms for electronic annotation.

Evernote is one of the two big players in the "digital annotation apps" game. In addition to allowing users to annotate digital documents, the service (for a fee) allows users to group multiple formats (PDF, webpages, scanned hand-written notes) into separate notebooks, create voice recordings, and sync across all sorts of devices. 

OneNote is Evernote's main competitor. Reviews suggest that OneNote allows for more freedom for digital note-taking than Evernote, but that it is slightly more awkward to import and annotate a PDF, especially on certain platforms. However, OneNote's free version is slightly more feature-filled, and OneNote allows you to link your notes to time stamps on an audio recording.

Diigo is a basic browser extension that allows a user to annotate webpages. Diigo also offers a Screenshot app that allows for direct saving to Google Drive.

While the creators of Hypothesis like to focus on their app's social dimension, students are more likely to be interested in the private highlighting and annotating functions of this program.

Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit is one of the leading PDF readers. Though the full suite must be purchased, Foxit offers a number of annotation and highlighting tools for free.

Nitro PDF Reader

This is another well-reviewed, free PDF reader that includes annotation and highlighting. Annotation, text editing, and other tools are included in the free version.

Goodreader is a very popular Mac-only app that includes annotation and editing tools for PDFs, Word documents, Powerpoint, and other formats.

Although textbooks have vocabulary lists, summaries, and other features to emphasize important material, annotation can allow students to process information and discover their own connections. This section links to guides and video tutorials that introduce you to textbook annotation. 

Annotating Textbooks (Niagara University)

This PDF provides a basic introduction as well as strategies including focusing on main ideas, working by section or chapter, annotating in your own words, and turning section headings into questions.

A Simple Guide to Text Annotation (Catawba College)

The simple, practical strategies laid out in this step-by-step guide will help students learn how to break down chapters in their textbooks using main ideas, definitions, lists, summaries, and potential test questions.

Annotating (Mercer Community College)

This packet, an excerpt from a literature textbook, provides a short exercise and some examples of how to do textbook annotation, including using shorthand and symbols.

Reading Your Healthcare Textbook: Annotation (Saddleback College)

This powerpoint contains a number of helpful suggestions, especially for students who are new to annotation. It emphasizes limited highlighting, lots of student writing, and using key words to find the most important information in a textbook. Despite the title, it is useful to a student in any discipline.

Annotating a Textbook (Excelsior College OWL)

This video (with included transcript) discusses how to use textbook features like boxes and sidebars to help guide annotation. It's an extremely helpful, detailed discussion of how textbooks are organized.

Because scholarly articles and books have complex arguments and often depend on technical vocabulary, they present particular challenges for an annotating student. The resources in this section help students get to the heart of scholarly texts in order to annotate and, by extension, understand the reading.

Annotating a Text (Hunter College)

This resource is designed for college students and shows how to annotate a scholarly article using highlighting, paraphrase, a descriptive outline, and a two-margin approach. It ends with a sample passage marked up using the strategies provided. 

Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article (ReadWriteThink.org)

This is an effective introduction to annotating scholarly articles across all disciplines. This resource encourages students to break down how the article uses primary and secondary sources and to annotate the types of arguments and persuasive strategies (synthesis, analysis, compare/contrast).

How to Highlight and Annotate Your Research Articles (CHHS Media Center)

This video, developed by a high school media specialist, provides an effective beginner-level introduction to annotating research articles. 

How to Read a Scholarly Book (AndrewJacobs.org)

In this essay, a college professor lets readers in on the secrets of scholarly monographs. Though he does not discuss annotation, he explains how to find a scholarly book's thesis, methodology, and often even a brief literature review in the introduction. This is a key place for students to focus when creating annotations. 

A 5-step Approach to Reading Scholarly Literature and Taking Notes (Heather Young Leslie)

This resource, written by a professor of anthropology, is an even more comprehensive and detailed guide to reading scholarly literature. Combining the annotation techniques above with the reading strategy here allows students to process scholarly book efficiently. 

Annotation is also an important part of close reading works of literature. Annotating helps students recognize symbolism, double meanings, and other literary devices. These resources provide additional guidelines on annotating literature.

AP English Language Annotation Guide (YouTube)

In this ~10 minute video, an AP Language teacher provides tips and suggestions for using annotations to point out rhetorical strategies and other important information.

Annotating Text Lesson (YouTube)

In this video tutorial, an English teacher shows how she uses the white board to guide students through annotation and close reading. This resource uses an in-depth example to model annotation step-by-step.

Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls (Purdue OWL)

This resources demonstrates how annotation is a central part of a solid close reading strategy; it also lists common mistakes to avoid in the annotation process.

AP Literature Assignment: Annotating Literature (Mount Notre Dame H.S.)

This brief assignment sheet contains suggestions for what to annotate in a novel, including building connections between parts of the book, among multiple books you are reading/have read, and between the book and your own experience. It also includes samples of quality annotations.

AP Handout: Annotation Guide (Covington Catholic H.S.)

This annotation guide shows how to keep track of symbolism, figurative language, and other devices in a novel using a highlighter, a pencil, and every part of a book (including the front and back covers).

In addition to written resources, it's possible to annotate visual "texts" like theatrical performances, movies, sculptures, and paintings. Taking notes on visual texts allows students to recall details after viewing a resource which, unlike a book, can't be re-read or re-visited ( for example, a play that has finished its run, or an art exhibition that is far away). These resources draw attention to the special questions and techniques that students should use when dealing with visual texts.

How to Take Notes on Videos (U of Southern California)

This resource is a good place to start for a student who has never had to take notes on film before. It briefly outlines three general approaches to note-taking on a film. 

How to Analyze a Movie, Step-by-Step (San Diego Film Festival)

This detailed guide provides lots of tips for film criticism and analysis. It contains a list of specific questions to ask with respect to plot, character development, direction, musical score, cinematography, special effects, and more. 

How to "Read" a Film (UPenn)

This resource provides an academic perspective on the art of annotating and analyzing a film. Like other resources, it provides students a checklist of things to watch out for as they watch the film.

Art Annotation Guide (Gosford Hill School)

This resource focuses on how to annotate a piece of art with respect to its formal elements like line, tone, mood, and composition. It contains a number of helpful questions and relevant examples. 

Photography Annotation (Arts at Trinity)

This resource is designed specifically for photography students. Like some of the other resources on this list, it primarily focuses on formal elements, but also shows students how to integrate the specific technical vocabulary of modern photography. This resource also contains a number of helpful sample annotations.

How to Review a Play (U of Wisconsin)

This resource from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center is designed to help students write a review of a play. It contains suggested questions for students to keep in mind as they watch a given production. This resource helps students think about staging, props, script alterations, and many other key elements of a performance.

This section contains links to lessons plans and exercises suitable for high school and college instructors.

Beyond the Yellow Highlighter: Teaching Annotation Skills to Improve Reading Comprehension (English Journal)

In this journal article, a high school teacher talks about her approach to teaching annotation. This article makes a clear distinction between annotation and mere highlighting.

Lesson Plan for Teaching Annotation, Grades 9–12 (readwritethink.org)

This lesson plan, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, contains four complete lessons that help introduce high school students to annotation.

Teaching Theme Using Close Reading (Performing in Education)

This lesson plan was developed by a middle school teacher, and is aligned to Common Core. The teacher presents her strategies and resources in comprehensive fashion.

Analyzing a Speech Using Annotation (UNC-TV/PBS Learning Media)

This complete lesson plan, which includes a guide for the teacher and relevant handouts for students, will prepare students to analyze both the written and presentation components of a speech. This lesson plan is best for students in 6th–10th grade.

Writing to Learn History: Annotation and Mini-Writes (teachinghistory.org)

This teaching guide, developed for high school History classes, provides handouts and suggested exercises that can help students become more comfortable with annotating historical sources.

Writing About Art (The College Board)

This Prezi presentation is useful to any teacher introducing students to the basics of annotating art. The presentation covers annotating for both formal elements and historical/cultural significance.

Film Study Worksheets (TeachWithMovies.org)

This resource contains links to a general film study worksheet, as well as specific worksheets for novel adaptations, historical films, documentaries, and more. These resources are appropriate for advanced middle school students and some high school students. 

Annotation Practice Worksheet (La Guardia Community College)

This worksheet has a sample text and instructions for students to annotate it. It is a useful resource for teachers who want to give their students a chance to practice, but don't have the time to select an appropriate piece of text. 

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Learning Center

Annotating Texts

What is annotation.

Annotation can be:

  • A systematic summary of the text that you create within the document
  • A key tool for close reading that helps you uncover patterns, notice important words, and identify main points
  • An active learning strategy that improves comprehension and retention of information

Why annotate?

  • Isolate and organize important material
  • Identify key concepts
  • Monitor your learning as you read
  • Make exam prep effective and streamlined
  • Can be more efficient than creating a separate set of reading notes

How do you annotate?

Summarize key points in your own words .

  • Use headers and words in bold to guide you
  • Look for main ideas, arguments, and points of evidence
  • Notice how the text organizes itself. Chronological order? Idea trees? Etc.

Circle key concepts and phrases

  • What words would it be helpful to look-up at the end?
  • What terms show up in lecture? When are different words used for similar concepts? Why?

Write brief comments and questions in the margins

  • Be as specific or broad as you would like—use these questions to activate your thinking about the content
  • See our handout on reading comprehension tips for some examples

Use abbreviations and symbols

  • Try ? when you have a question or something you need to explore further
  • Try ! When something is interesting, a connection, or otherwise worthy of note
  • Try * For anything that you might use as an example or evidence when you use this information.
  • Ask yourself what other system of symbols would make sense to you.


  • Highlight or underline, but mindfully. Check out our resource on strategic highlighting for tips on when and how to highlight.

Use comment and highlight features built into pdfs, online/digital textbooks, or other apps and browser add-ons

  • Are you using a pdf? Explore its highlight, edit, and comment functions to support your annotations
  • Some browsers have add-ons or extensions that allow you to annotate web pages or web-based documents
  • Does your digital or online textbook come with an annotation feature?
  • Can your digital text be imported into a note-taking tool like OneNote, EverNote, or Google Keep? If so, you might be able to annotate texts in those apps

What are the most important takeaways?

  • Annotation is about increasing your engagement with a text
  • Increased engagement, where you think about and process the material then expand on your learning, is how you achieve mastery in a subject
  • As you annotate a text, ask yourself: how would I explain this to a friend?
  • Put things in your own words and draw connections to what you know and wonder

The table below demonstrates this process using a geography textbook excerpt (Press 2004):

A chart featuring a passage from a text in the left column and then columns that illustrate annotations that include too much writing, not enough writing, and a good balance of writing.

A common concern about annotating texts: It takes time!

Yes, it can, but that time isn’t lost—it’s invested.

Spending the time to annotate on the front end does two important things:

  • It saves you time later when you’re studying. Your annotated notes will help speed up exam prep, because you can review critical concepts quickly and efficiently.
  • It increases the likelihood that you will retain the information after the course is completed. This is especially important when you are supplying the building blocks of your mind and future career.

One last tip: Try separating the reading and annotating processes! Quickly read through a section of the text first, then go back and annotate.

Works consulted:

Nist, S., & Holschuh, J. (2000). Active learning: strategies for college success. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 202-218.

Simpson, M., & Nist, S. (1990). Textbook annotation: An effective and efficient study strategy for college students. Journal of Reading, 34: 122-129.

Press, F. (2004). Understanding earth (4th ed). New York: W.H. Freeman. 208-210.

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Reading and Study Strategies

What is annotating and why do it, annotation explained, steps to annotating a source, annotating strategies.

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What is Annotating?

Annotating is any action that deliberately interacts with a text to enhance the reader's understanding of, recall of, and reaction to the text. Sometimes called "close reading," annotating usually involves highlighting or underlining key pieces of text and making notes in the margins of the text. This page will introduce you to several effective strategies for annotating a text that will help you get the most out of your reading.

Why Annotate?

By annotating a text, you will ensure that you understand what is happening in a text after you've read it. As you annotate, you should note the author's main points, shifts in the message or perspective of the text, key areas of focus, and your own thoughts as you read. However, annotating isn't just for people who feel challenged when reading academic texts. Even if you regularly understand and remember what you read, annotating will help you summarize a text, highlight important pieces of information, and ultimately prepare yourself for discussion and writing prompts that your instructor may give you. Annotating means you are doing the hard work while you read, allowing you to reference your previous work and have a clear jumping-off point for future work.

1. Survey : This is your first time through the reading

You can annotate by hand or by using document software. You can also annotate on post-its if you have a text you do not want to mark up. As you annotate, use these strategies to make the most of your efforts:

  • Include a key or legend on your paper that indicates what each marking is for, and use a different marking for each type of information. Example: Underline for key points, highlight for vocabulary, and circle for transition points.
  • If you use highlighters, consider using different colors for different types of reactions to the text. Example: Yellow for definitions, orange for questions, and blue for disagreement/confusion.
  • Dedicate different tasks to each margin: Use one margin to make an outline of the text (thesis statement, description, definition #1, counter argument, etc.) and summarize main ideas, and use the other margin to note your thoughts, questions, and reactions to the text.

Lastly, as you annotate, make sure you are including descriptions of the text as well as your own reactions to the text. This will allow you to skim your notations at a later date to locate key information and quotations, and to recall your thought processes more easily and quickly.

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  • Last Updated: Jul 21, 2021 3:01 PM
  • URL: https://research.ewu.edu/writers_c_read_study_strategies


How To Annotate An Article Effectively [Tips + Tools]

Annotating an article goes over and above just simply writing down notes. It is a worthwhile activity, which when done correctly can help you to actively read and understand the text you're reading.

If you wanted to read something, you used to have to go to a library or bookstore. But now you can get access to thousands of free books and articles online. And thanks to the rise of the digital era , you don’t even need to leave home anymore.

However, how often have you found yourself reading an article or blog post only to realize that you don’t remember anything from it? This is because you weren't actively taking in anything you were reading.

This can easily be rectified if you annotate an article while reading it.

In order to get the most out of reading, you should always make comments or highlight important parts of the text. This way, your brain stays active and you can easily refer back to them later.

You can annotate articles by hand on a piece of paper, however, if you want to do it online, there are plenty of tools available to help you out.

article annotate example

  • First Of All, What Is Annotation?🤷‍♀️
  • Why Should You Take The Time Out To Annotate When Reading?🧐

7 Steps For How To Annotate An Article Effectively🔥

How to optimize your annotation process🌟.

  • How To Use The Various Online Annotation Tools: Markup Vs. Kami📝
  • Conclusion🙌

Important disclosure: we're proud affiliates of some tools mentioned in this guide. If you click an affiliate link and subsequently make a purchase, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you (you pay nothing extra). For more information, read our affiliate disclosure .

First Of All, What Is Annotation? 🤷‍♀️

Annotation is simply making personal notes and adding explanations or comments on top of an image or document.

Annotating is about drawing attention to specific words, phrases, or themes in the article.

There are three main methods of annotation:


  • Adding comments.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

When highlighting, you add color to specific word s or phrases.

Advantages of highlighting text are that it's easy to do and actually doesn't require any special software.

A disadvantage of highlighting text is that it may not show up well when printed out and depending on the color used, the contrast can make it hard to read the words.

Tagging allows you to assign keywords to different sections of the text.

Advantages of tagging include easily being able to search for specific tags and locate associated text.

The disadvantages of tagging are that it requires more work than highlighting since you must first create a list of keywords before assigning each one of them to the text.

Comments are generally more personal than either of these two methods. They are usually written by the reader and reflect the readers' thoughts and feelings towards what they are reading.

The advantages of leaving your comments when annotating are article are that writing is an active learning strategy and you're more likely to remember what you've written. The disadvantages of commenting are that it takes time to write a comment.

The best way to annotate an article is by using all three methods at once.

Why Should You Take The Time Out To Annotate When Reading? 🧐

The main advantage of annotating articles is that it helps you retain information better.

It is one of the best active reading strategies.

When you annotate, you're forced to pay attention to the text and therefore you'll learn faster. It also makes you think harder so you'll understand things better. This is particularly helpful with complex reading material.

Potential thoughts while active reading

Another advantage of effective annotation is being more aware of what you're reading. You will naturally begin to notice the important points in the text or relevant pieces of information. This will help you focus on those areas.

You can even use annotations as a study tool.

If you annotate articles, digital textbooks, or academic texts, you'll find yourself referring back to it often. This is because you'll be easily reminded of the key points.

You can then go back and reread the highlighted passages without having to worry about remembering where you left off. This is particularly useful if you are a student who is studying for an exam or trying to learn a new concept.

The disadvantages of annotating are that you might feel like you're wasting time. However trust me, you aren't ! One way to eliminate this feeling is to annotate the articles you are reading online rather than print them out and annotate them by hand.

Annotating online allows you to quickly make corrections to your annotations, something that may not be so easy by hand.

Plus when annotating online you have easy access to your annotations wherever you may be. You can just save the page with your annotations and continue reading later. No need to carry around stacks of printed-out articles with you.

Oh and you're also helping to save the environment too by reducing your paper usage & printing!

That's why I say, online annotation all the way!

Alright, so you know all about what annotation is and why it is important, which is great. But how do you actually go about annotating an article?

Below are seven steps you can follow when annotating an article:

  • Scan For Important Details
  • Skim For More Information
  • Underline Or Highlight Key Points
  • Read The Entire Article Thoroughly
  • Make Your Notes
  • Quickly Summarize The Key Ideas
  • Create An Outline

article annotate example

1. Scan For Important Details

The first step when annotating an article is to scan the article for details that are relevant to what you want to learn from the article.

Usually, when you are scanning you read the title of the articles, the headings, the abstract, and the conclusion of the article so you can grasp some idea of the direction of the article.

2. Skim For More Information

You then need to skim-read the article to get a general and clearer idea of what it's about.

It doesn't matter if you don't fully understand everything but you want to get a sense of the topic and its central theme . This means you are looking for keywords, key concepts, terms, phrases, abbreviations, etc.

A good tactic when skimming through an article is to read the first sentence or two of the first paragraphs.

What it means to skim vs scan while reading

3. Underline Or Highlight Key Points

Your next step is to then underline or highlight the most important points in the article that you have picked up on through your initial readings.

These could be the main ideas in texts, facts, statistics, quotes, examples, etc. that you found interesting and relevant.

4. Read The Entire Article Thoroughly

Once you've underlined the key points, you should read the entire article again. Slowly and carefully.

Reading the article in its entirety helps to reinforce the key points you've already identified.

In addition, it gives you a chance to look at the different parts of the article and see how they relate to each other.

It is good practice at this point to circle any unfamiliar words and to look them up. Noting down the meanings of the words both mentally and on the article itself.

Highlight and circle important words or phrases in the text

5. Make Your Notes

Now that you've read the entire article, you can start making your personal notes. You can make these notes in the margin, at the end of the article, or on a new page entirely.

Write down any questions you still have about the article, any points you want to remember, or anything else you'd like to add.

Keep in mind that the notes you take don't have to be words, they can also be visuals.

6. Quickly Summarize The Key Ideas

After you've finished writing down your thoughts, you can summarize the main ideas of the article into one sentence.

For example, if you were annotating the article " Why Do We Have A Short Attention Span? ", you would write down something like:

"Short attention spans are caused by our fast-paced world."

It is important in your summary that you make connections between the key ideas in the article.

Create a short summary of the main ideas of the article

7. Create An Outline

Finally, once you've summarized the major ideas of the piece, create an outline . This will help you organize your notes as well as give you a deeper understanding of the article overall.

An outline is simply a list of the key ideas of the document. It's not meant to be exhaustive, nor does it have to include every single detail.

An outline is usually made up of three sections:

  • Title - What is this document about?
  • Body - What did we learn from this article?
  • Conclusions - How does this article affect us today?

You are now ready to get started annotating articles. This extremely useful skill is a vital one to learn, however, you can take it a step further and optimize your annotation processes.

Some people are annotation naturals, but with others, it requires a bit more practice. Below are some tips and tricks to help you annotate articles online more efficiently and effectively:

An Annotation Tool Is Your Best Friend 💕

Use a legend 🔑, make use of your colors wisely 🎨.

  • Different Margin Different Task ☝️

Note Down Descriptions & Reactions ✍️

Did someone say snapchat 👻, be critical 🧠, use abbreviations or symbols *️⃣.

Annotation tools are useful because they allow you to easily mark up text and highlight important parts of an article. They also let you take notes and record your thoughts.

There are many online annotation tools available, including Markup by Kdan Mobile, Cronycle & Kami.

article annotate example

Markup is an all-in-one annotation tool - meaning you can use it to personally annotate articles online and websites ( & PDFs too if you’re using the iOS app ).

The tool combines note-taking with artificial intelligence, ensuring that you are actively reading with great efficiency.

The more you use Markup, the more helpful it becomes as it remembers the types of articles you have read and the content within them, and then it suggests articles of a similar nature.

With Markup you can save all your annotations in one place, for easy access and you can quickly share them amongst your peers.

You can get started with Markup for free. However, if you are looking to upgrade your functions and features then the paid pricing plans start at $39.99 per user per month billed annually.

article annotate example

From the outset, Croncyle may not look like an annotation tool. It in fact advertises itself as a marketing intelligence platform.

However, it does have a very nifty annotation feature for PDFs, saved web pages, and online articles. All you have to do is save the article to one of your boards and then you can get started highlighting, adding comments, and tagging.

After you have annotated the article you can review all of the comments you made, extract highlighted text, and then share it with whoever you wish.

Unfortunately, there is no free plan for Croncyle, and their paid plans start at $49 per user per month, paid annually.

article annotate example

Kami may market itself as a digital classroom tool , however, it can be used by anybody, in any industry.

With Kami, you can take a PDF document, a Word document, images, and conventional articles and transform them into a beautifully annotated end result. And then you can save and share those documents as you please.

One particularly useful feature of Kami that sets itself apart from the other two tools we have mentioned is that you can annotate in written words, visuals, videos, or voice recordings.

Kami offers its’ users a completely free version , or they can upgrade to the Teacher Plan which is $99 per year. It just depends on the extent of your needs.

Using annotation tools can save you valuable time. However, there are some things to keep in mind before using them.

First, you'll need to find a tool that works with your device. Some apps work only on certain devices (iPhones, iPads), while others may require a web browser.

Second, you need to think about your annotation needs and which tool best suits those.

For example , if you're looking for a simple way to quickly note down key points, then you might choose to use a basic highlighting app. If you're looking for more advanced features such as adding images, formatting text, or recording audio clips, then you may want to consider a more complex tool.

Third, make sure you know how to use the tool properly. You should always start off by reading through the documentation first. Then, practice using the tool until you feel comfortable doing so.

Lastly, make sure the tool fits into your budget . There are free options out there, but you may want to invest in a paid option if you plan on making heavy use of it.

An annotation legend

Always make use of a key or legend when annotating articles online. A legend is a quick reference guide that explains what each symbol means.

A legend can be used at any point during the process, whether you're writing annotations directly on the page or creating a summary.

It's very helpful to add a legend to a document because it helps other readers ( or you at a later stage ) understand what you mean. It will also help you organize your thoughts and remember what you've written.

When creating a legend, try to stick to 3-5 symbols per section.

When annotating you need to be careful of your color choices. Avoid using too many colors. Instead, pick just two or three main colors.

The reason why you need to limit yourself to these colors is that most people have limited vision. When you use too many colors, it becomes difficult for people to read what you wrote.

If you do decide to use multiple colors, make sure to use contrasting ones instead of monochromatic ones. If you don't it may be hard to distinguish one color from the next. For instance, if you use red and pink together, then you will struggle to tell where one ends and the next begins.

Avoid using bright colors like yellow or orange. These colors tend to distract from the content. Also, avoid using colors that are too dark as they will make it hard to read the text.

You should also use a different color for each type of reaction , e.g. green for questions, red for confusion, and purple for agreement.

Annotation guide for highlighter colours

Different Margin Different Task☝️

Try to make your annotations as logical as possible. Use one margin for tagging and another margin for making comments. Or one margin for reactions and the other for questions.

This makes it easier to follow along with the article themes.

When annotating an article it is important to note down descriptions of what is written as well as your reactions to the key concepts. Noting down reactions allows you to go back to this section and understand how it initially made you feel and your thought process at the time.

If you're not sure about something, then write it down, and question it. This will give you time to think about it before you continue.

Noting your thoughts helps you better understand the article when you review it again at a later stage.

This one is for students. Did you know you can annotate articles on Snapchat? Yes, it’s true!

All you need to do is take a screenshot of the article you want to annotate.

Then, open up the image editor and paste the article. Once you've done that, you can begin adding your own notes and reactions by tapping on the screen.

Another way to do this is to subscribe to one of the news accounts on Snapchat, open up an article of interest, screenshot it and get annotating.

You can also easily share your annotations with friends.

It is important when annotating an article to be critical of what is written. Don't just accept everything at face value.

Really think about what the article is saying and the implications of such.

Think about what you would say in response to the author's arguments. Would you agree or disagree? Why?

To make your life easier, you can always abbreviate certain words or you can use symbols to represent certain things. This is particularly useful for repeated concepts or themes as it saves you time in writing it out.

For example , instead of writing ‘theory’ all over the place, you could simply put ‘T’. Also saving you space for more elaborate descriptions. Or try using a '?' mark if something in the article requires more research on your behalf.

Just make sure you include these abbreviations and symbols in your legend so that you know exactly what they mean!

The last thing you want is to forget their meaning and have to annotate the article from scratch.

How To Use The Various Online Annotation Tools: Markup Vs. Kami 📝

Maybe using online annotation tools sounds daunting to you but we are here to show you otherwise. Using these tools couldn't be any easier.

Markup is a unique annotation tool as it allows you to highlight and annotate any article online. No need to download the article or have it on your google drive.

In fact, you don’t even have to download anything - not even the tool itself, as all you have to do, is add it as an extension to your browser.

how to get started using Markup

Go to the Markup website . Click on the relevant button to take you to your Chrome or Edge extension web store.

Markup on the google chrome web store

Add the Markup extension to your browser. No account is needed! You may want to pin it to your extensions bar for easy access.

highlighting online articles using Markup

Go to the article you want to annotate. Click on the Markup extension button and a drop-down annotation menu will appear ( as seen above ).

As you can see with Markup you can highlight text, add tags, add annotations, automatically summarize the article (a very useful feature) and then share your annotations with other people.

Plus they offer you pro tips for using the tool!

Adding notes using Markup

Select the text you want , and as long as the ‘Text Highlighter’ toggle is set to on, a Markups button will appear next to your text.

Click this button and it will give you the option to highlight your text - in multiple different colors!

If you want to annotate your text all you need to do is select your text, click the annotation button that pops up next to your text, and type in your note. You can even change the note color.

It really is that easy.

viewing all the annotations you've made to an article

Click ‘Annotations ’ on the side panel to view all the notes and highlighted text you’ve added.

This quickly shows you everything you deemed important in the article and allows you to easily navigate to any section.

save and share your annotated article

Click ‘Share’, and then click ‘Include highlights and notes’ to share your annotated article with anyone via a link or across your Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo social networks.

Kami is an annotation tool that is aimed at the education industry. Because of this, it functions mainly to annotate articles that are either saved onto a drive or downloaded onto the computer.

Unlike with Markup, you cannot annotate straight onto an article on a website. However, it still fulfills its purpose perfectly.

article annotate example

Go to their website , create an account, and log in. Then open your file from Google Docs or Drive, My Computer, or OneDrive. Or create one using the various templates.

article annotate example

Once your article is uploaded you’ll get access to a number of annotation tools , all present in the bar on the left-hand side of your screen.

There are also a number of functional options in the top right-hand corner - open file, save, share, download, etc.

highlighting a document using Kami

Click on the highlighter icon and highlight your text in multiple colors. You can also underline important text or strike it through if it isn’t relevant.

Adding comments to an article using Kami

Click on the comments icon to add notes in multiple forms - written, audio, video, or visual. Plus you can tag your notes in different colors so you know which are related and which aren't.

use Kami to add shapes and draw on the document

You can even add text boxes, shapes, and drawings to the actual article itself.

share your fully annotated article

Click on the download icon to export your document - with or without the annotations.

Which tool is best?

That depends on your needs as a person. If you have a whole lot of downloaded articles, go with Kami, but if you want to save time and annotate directly online, then Markup is the tool for you.

Or you can always explore the other annotation tools we mentioned in this article…

Conclusion 🙌

Without annotation, it becomes easy to read through an article and not remember anything afterward. This isn’t ideal - especially if you are a student.

Annotating an article online is an important skill if you want to not only read the text but actually actively take in what it is saying. Many people view annotation as tedious, however, there are a number of tools available to help you.

And using them couldn’t be any easier.

After reading this article you should have everything you need to effectively and efficiently annotate your articles. What are you waiting for?

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American Psychological Association (APA) Annotations

Creating an annotated bibliography in APA style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  7th edition (APA Manual) is kept behind the iDesk on the First Floor.

This example is based on the APA style guide, but your instructor might give you other formatting instructions . 

General guidelines

Some annotations are merely descriptive , summarizing the authors' qualifications, research methods, and arguments. 

Many annotations evaluate the quality of scholarship in a book or article.  You might want to consider the logic of authors' arguments, and the quality of their evidence.  Your findings can be positive, negative, or mixed.

Your professor might also want you to explain why the source is relevant to your assignment. 

Sample Page: APA-formatted annotated bibliography

Rules! rules! rules!

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) states the following formatting rules:

  • The text and the reference list should be double-spaced.
  • Numbering starts on the title page, at the top right of the page.
  • Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
  • There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
  • Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
  • Each paragraph should be indented.

More Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library offers these instructions on preparing an annotated bibliography.

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / Citation Basics / Annotated Bibliography Format & Examples

Annotated Bibliography Format & Examples

A complete guide to the mla & apa annotated bibliography.

If you’ve just received an assignment that requires an MLA or APA annotated bibliography, you may be wondering where to start. This guide will help answer all of your questions and includes step-by-step instructions on how to do an annotated bibliography in MLA style, as well as an APA annotated bibliography. You will also find sample annotated bibliographies, real-life examples, and opportunities to practice what you have learned.

The MLA ( Modern Language Association ) and APA (American Psychological Association) are not associated with this guide. All of the information provided here, however, offers direction for students and researchers who use these citation styles in their work.

The structures and annotated bibliography templates on this page were created by the in-house librarians at EasyBib.com.

If you’re simply looking for an example of an annotated bibliography (both in MLA format and APA format), scroll down toward the bottom of the page. We’ve included links to visuals for those of you who need help with the structure and styling of an annotated bibliography. If you’re looking for a variety of annotated bibliography topics, and you’re truly searching for the answer to, “What is an annotated bibliography?” then continue reading!

Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:

Table of contents

What is an annotated bibliography, annotations vs. abstract, why include annotations.

  • Step 1: Analyze your sources

Step 2: Write the descriptions

  • Step 3a: Formatting an MLA style annotated bibliography
  • Step 3b: Formatting an APA style annotated bibliography

Annotated Bibliography Templates

Using the easybib annotation tool.

A bibliography is a complete list of the sources that were used to complete a research paper or project.

Depending on the style guide you follow, you may also see this called a Works Cited (also called an MLA bibliography) or Reference List (APA format). Each listed source, or citation , shares information about the author, title, publishing year, and other details that serve to credit the original authors whose work informed your research. These details also help other students and researchers find and read the source materials.

When your research is related to a scholastic assignment, you should always verify your instructor’s requirements for the types and number of sources to include, as well as the style you should adhere to when formatting your paper and bibliography.

An MLA annotated bibliography and an APA format annotated bibliography are bibliographies that include a concise explanation, or annotation , of each listed source. Depending on the assignment, this annotation may be solely descriptive, or analytical.

An abstract and annotation should not be confused; they differ in both their substance as well as their placement in a paper.


  • Usually found in bibliographies at the end of a paper
  • Are subjective
  • Purpose is to summarize and evaluate . It should briefly communicate the work’s main point, but also discuss the background of the author or study, and the strengths/weaknesses of the work.


  • Usually found in journal databases or the beginning of a paper
  • Are objective
  • Purpose is to summarize . It should provide a short overview of the article and communicate the main points and themes.

If you would like to learn more , this link further explores the difference between an abstract and an annotation.

This resource provides additional information on how to write a bibliography with annotations in other formats. You can also take advantage of the plagiarism checker and bibliography tools that come with EasyBib Plus to help you create your reference lists.

Before you learn how to make an annotated bibliography, you may be wondering why you need to.

Sometimes instructors want you to create and include annotations in your bibliography, either as part of an assignment or as an assignment unto itself. Understanding the purpose of this approach to your reference list can help to ensure that you gain all of the benefits that the annotated bibliography process provides.

As a student, this method will help you develop or hone your research skills, providing you with practice not only in locating sources but also in analyzing and evaluating them for relevance and quality.

Your instructor will gain insight into your research abilities, as well, allowing them to assess your work more thoroughly. If you plan to publish your research, this comprehensive approach to detailing your sources will provide readers and other researchers with a substantial directory of resources to evaluate for their own work.

Whether you’re publishing or submitting your annotated bibliography, make sure your spelling and wording is correct! If you need to brush up on any parts of speech topics, check out our interjection , determiner , and adverb pages!

Step 1: Analyze your sources 

Each annotation should be a summarization or analysis of your source. If you have been tasked with writing annotations as part of a research paper or project, begin to create both the citation and notes on the source while you identify and analyze your sources.

Not only will this approach help you to hone your research skills and identify sources that are relevant and useful for your topic, but you will also save time. When done in this manner, both your citations and annotations will be nearly complete before you begin to write the body of your paper.

Analyzing your potential sources requires a two-pronged approach that first evaluates the author, publication, and date, and then examines the content.

When conducting your initial assessment of the source, consider some of the following questions to guide your appraisal:

  • What qualifies the author to write on this subject?
  • Is the author affiliated with a reputable institution in this field?
  • Is the author credentialed or otherwise considered an expert in this field?
  • Is this source current?
  • Is this the most recent edition?
  • Is the publisher reputable?
  • Is the journal reputable?

Once your primary evaluation is complete, you will move on the assessing the content itself. Consider some of these elements as you review each source:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author presenting her opinion or interpretation as the truth, or stating facts?
  • What supporting evidence does the author provide?
  • Did the author perform the research, or curate and present the research of others?
  • If the author used the research of others, are the sources the author cites credible?
  • Are there errors or omissions of fact?
  • Is the author writing objectively and without bias?

Also, consider the value each source provides to you:

  • Is the information helpful for your particular assignment?
  • Does it help answer your research question(s)?
  • Is this source different from your other sources, or does it repeat information you already have?
  • Is the source providing you with a different perspective on your topic, or changing your beliefs or thinking about your subject?

To make it easier for you to create your reference page, write your notes in the format you will be using when you construct this part of the assignment (for instance, as short phrases or complete sentences). Once you have identified all of the sources you wish to include, you will merely need to insert what you have already written on the page and write your citation, which is explained in the next section.

Click here for additional information and a supplementary annotated bibliography sample. For an MLA bibliography example (with annotations),  check out our visual example of an MLA annotated bibliography .

An annotated bibliography entry may be written either as short phrases or complete sentences. Your instructor will advise you of which approach you are required to take.

Annotations should include either:

  • The main points from the source, as well as the topics covered, the approach used, and any findings.
  • Or your critical evaluation.
  • A standard annotation is approximately one paragraph.
  • Take care not to include any unnecessary details, as the goal is to summarize each source as succinctly as possible and, in some cases, evaluate them.
  • Your field of study or instructor will determine what format your annotated bibliography will use. In this guide, you’ll find examples of an MLA and an APA annotated bibliography.

Here is an annotated bibliography example MLA annotation for the book The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by UK author and blogger Mark Forsyth:

The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.

Notice how the annotated bibliography MLA entry above is descriptive enough so the reader has an idea of what the source is about with just a single paragraph. For more information on annotations, check out this informative site . If you’re looking to strengthen your writing in general, reading these grammar guides could be a good start.

For guidance on creating entries in MLA format , APA format , and more styles , check out the EasyBib library of resources or try the EasyBib annotation tool—we talk about it below!

Step 3a: MLA annotated bibliography format

The MLA Style Center and the current edition of the MLA Handbook provide the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography:

  • Title your reference page as “Annotated Bibliography” or “Annotated List of Works Cited.”
  • Place each annotation after its reference.
  • Annotations should typically not exceed a single paragraph.
  • Annotations should be indented one inch from the start of your citation.
  • Double-space all text on the page.
  • 1-inch margins around the page.

Sources in an annotated bibliography can be organized alphabetically by the first word in each reference (as with a normal Works Cited page), by publication date, or by subject.

For a visual example of an annotated bibliography, as well as specific annotation examples, visit the MLA annotated bibliography guide .

MLA annotated bibliography

If you are required to share your references in a manner other than in MLA bibliography format, the EasyBib style guides can help you with many common styles. While you’re at it, check out their conjunction , preposition , and pronoun pages to help keep your paper in mint condition!

Step 3b: APA annotated bibliography format

The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but asks that the bibliography be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual ). If your teacher has requested an APA formatted annotated bibliography, first ask them for guidelines. Otherwise, here are some quick rules for you to follow:

  • Double space all text on the page.  
  • Title your page “Annotated Bibliogra phy”. Bold and center the title.  
  • Organize references alphabetically by the first word of each reference.  
  • Only the first line of a ref erence is flush with the left margin. Any other lines after the first line should be indented ½ inch from the left.  
  • Add annotations on the next line after their paired reference.   
  • Fully indent annotations by a ½ inch from the left.  
  • Keep annotations short. No more than one paragraph.  

For examples of a  properly formatted APA annotation, visit this guide on APA annotated bibliographies .  

In comparison to the sample annotated bibliography MLA, the APA sample formats its page elements and references differently.

article annotate example

Students and researchers who type their research notes can save time by using an annotated bibliography template in MLA format while reviewing and analyzing sources. By adding the relevant information into a pre-formatted template, you’ll create a resource that helps you when you begin writing your paper in addition to saving time by completing your references and summaries alongside your research.

Students who prefer to take notes by hand can employ a modified version of this approach, with an additional step required to transfer your handwritten and formatted references from your notebook to populate your reference page.

Bibliography Template for MLA

To create an annotated bibliography MLA template, copy the following details into the program in which you will take notes or hand write it on the top margin of a page in your notebook. For each source, use this template to guide you as you identify the necessary details and insert them into your notes:

  • Author (Last name, First name).
  • Title of source.
  • Title of the container ,
  • Other contributors (names and roles),
  • Publication Date,
  • Location of the source (such as URL or page range).
  • Summary or Analysis.

The MLA 9 model for MLA works cited entries offers a single format for all source type, and a great deal of flexibility to include the information most relevant to your topic and omit that which isn’t.

Hopefully our visual annotated bibliography example in MLA above has helped. If you still have lingering questions, visit the MLA Style Center online ( linked here ). Also, here’s a guide if you’re looking for more on the related topic of MLA in-text & parenthetical citations .

Bibliography Template for APA

Students and researchers who are still asking themselves how to piece together an annotated bibliography, or still questioning what is an annotated bibliography, could probably benefit from a template, similar to the one above. This one, however, is for those of you who are tasked with creating an annotated bibliography in the style created by the American Psychological Association.

The tricky thing about this specific style though, is that every reference is styled differently. Books, websites, journal articles, newspaper articles, and many others each have their own reference structure.

For most sources though, you should look for the following, basic information:

  • Type of source
  • Author (last name, first name)
  • Title of source/article/web page, etc.
  • Title of where source was found (e.g., database name, website name, etc.)
  • Other contributors (names and roles)
  • Location of the source (such as URL, DOI, or page range)
  • Summary or Analysis

We understand it can get tricky, and it’s very different from the Modern Language Association’s structure for references. Take a moment to either use the other handy guides on EasyBib.com or use our automatic generator to form your references in just a few clicks. Our tools help take the pain away from having to rack your brain to form references properly. Capitals, lowercase letters, italics, quotation marks, punctuation in the appropriate places, it can all be quite overwhelming. Do yourself a favor, and use the EasyBib automatic citation generator.

Even though there are a lot of different variations, here’s a commonly used structure for sources:

Author’s Last Name, First initial, Middle initial. (Year the source was published). Title of the source . Retrieved from (insert the website address here)

Underneath the reference, include your summary or analysis paragraph.

Hopefully, this page helped answer all of your “What is an annotated bibliography?” questions. If you’re seeking out an annotated bibliography generator, follow the steps above the annotated bibliography examples.

Looking for additional help with other related topics? Don’t forget about the various beneficial guides on EasyBib.com! Our APA in-text citation guide and our APA parenthetical citation guide are two of our most popular pages. Learn the ins and outs of referencing your work in the body of your paper with our thorough, complete, and reader-friendly guides.

If you are creating a bibliography in MLA format, the EasyBib MLA bibliography generator can help save you time formatting your citations and annotations correctly. You can create entries for websites, books, videos, databases, dictionary articles, and many other types of sources.

In addition to forming the citations, you can also enter your annotation text to produce the complete entry for each source. The process for this is simple. You can follow along below to practice creating one:

  • First, select your source type from among the 50+ available options. For this example, we will use the acting career of Keanu Reeves as our research topic and use the movie Point Break from 1991 as our first source. To cite this film, you would select the option for “Film/Online Video.” As you follow along, pick the option that is suitable for your source if you are using a different example.
  • Enter the title of your source or, if you are citing a website, you may enter the URL. (Now would be a great time to peek at how to cite websites in MLA ). After you enter the title or URL for your reference, the EasyBib citation tool will scan for titles that match it and provide you with a list of results. Select “Cite this” next to the listing that matches your source.
  • You will see a citation form. This gives you the option to add additional relevant or necessary information. For our sample topic, we will specifically cite Keanu Reeves as the performer and Kathryn Bigelow as the director.
  • After entering any additional details, you have the option to expand your entry and include an annotation. To do so, select “Add annotation” at the bottom of the page, and a text box will open up.

Then, type your summary or analysis into the text box. If you took notes during the research stage using the format of your paper, this might be as simple as copying and pasting your already written summary or critique. Once you have entered all of the necessary information, select “Create citation” to generate the complete entry. You can then copy and paste this into your MLA bibliography.

Here’s what it’ll look like:

Point Break . Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, performance by Keanu Reeves, 20th Century Fox, 1991.

Reeves’ role as rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah in Point Break marks the turning point in his Hollywood film career. While he’d risen to fame due to the success of the Bill and Ted franchise, his status today as an action star began when Point Break provided him with the material to establish himself as capable of portraying more than the lovable but unserious characters of his previous starring roles. In a parallel arc, director Kathryn Bigelow’s career also sees a shift beginning with Point Break , establishing her within the traditional action genre as a serious director capable of creating high-action and visually memorable films. While Point Break leaves plenty to be desired in terms of dialogue, it afforded Bigelow and Reeves the opportunities to showcase themselves and their talent in new ways that still echo in their work today.

  • Works Cited

Harner, James L.  On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography . 2nd ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2000.

MLA Handbook . 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association . 7th ed., American Psychological Association, 2020.

“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center , The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016, style.mla.org/annotated-bibliographies/.

Visit our EasyBib Twitter feed to discover more citing tips, fun grammar facts, and the latest product updates.

Published October 18, 2015. Updated July 25, 2021.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and is the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

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An annotated bibliography is a list containing complete information of sources, such as journals, books, and reports, cited in the text. In addition, it provides a brief description of each source in about 100–150 words. The annotation can explain the topics covered in the source or evaluate the source. The main objective of giving the annotation is to provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source.

An example of an annotated bibliography in APA style is given below.

Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35 (1), 61–76. https://doi:10.1080/01596306.2012.739467

Lim (2014) focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in making our understanding of what thinking and rationality are. It must facilitate the social reproduction of a specific proportion of the middle class.

If you want to evaluate or provide a description of a source you are citing, you can create an annotated bibliography. Write your annotation in 100–150 words and add it below the source for which you are providing your annotation. Remember, your annotation should provide the reader the importance, accuracy, and value of the source. Below are the guidelines and rules to be followed while writing an annotated bibliography for APA style:

Order your reference entries in alphabetical order, similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.

If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a fresh paragraph below the reference entry. The annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. However, the first line of the annotation is not indented.

To format the annotated bibliography, follow the recommendations given below:

Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins to 1 inch.

Give double-line spacing.

Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.

The title should be aligned to the center of the page.

As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inch from the left margin.

Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.

Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.

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How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography

  • The Annotated Bibliography
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Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples

What is an annotated bibliography.

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

The Process

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document

For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources . For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.

Choosing the Correct Citation Style

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page .

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

The following example uses APA style ( Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association , 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:

Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style ( MLA Handbook , 9th edition, 2021) for the journal citation. For additional annotation guidance from MLA, see 5.132: Annotated Bibliographies .

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554. The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Writing annotations.

  • Introduction
  • New RefWorks
  • Formatting Citations
  • Sample Annotated Bibliographies

An annotation is a brief note following each citation listed on an annotated bibliography.  The goal is to briefly summarize the source and/or explain why it is important for a topic.  They are typically a single concise paragraph, but might be longer if you are summarizing and evaluating.

Annotations can be written in a variety of different ways and it’s important to consider the style you are going to use.  Are you simply summarizing the sources, or evaluating them?  How does the source influence your understanding of the topic?  You can follow any style you want if you are writing for your own personal research process, but consult with your professor if this is an assignment for a class.

Annotation Styles

  • Combined Informative/Evaluative Style - This style is recommended by the library as it combines all the styles to provide a more complete view of a source.  The annotation should explain the value of the source for the overall research topic by providing a summary combined with an analysis of the source.  

Aluedse, O. (2006). Bullying in schools: A form of child abuse in schools.  Educational Research Quarterly ,  30 (1), 37.

The author classifies bullying in schools as a “form of child abuse,” and goes well beyond the notion that schoolyard bullying is “just child’s play.” The article provides an in-depth definition of bullying, and explores the likelihood that school-aged bullies may also experience difficult lives as adults. The author discusses the modern prevalence of bullying in school systems, the effects of bullying, intervention strategies, and provides an extensive list of resources and references.

Statistics included provide an alarming realization that bullying is prevalent not only in the United States, but also worldwide. According to the author, “American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims.” The author references the National Association of School Psychologists and quotes, “Thus, one in seven children is a bully or a target of bullying.” A major point of emphasis centers around what has always been considered a “normal part of growing up” versus the levels of actual abuse reached in today’s society.

The author concludes with a section that addresses intervention strategies for school administrators, teachers, counselors, and school staff. The concept of school staff helping build students’ “social competence” is showcased as a prevalent means of preventing and reducing this growing social menace. Overall, the article is worthwhile for anyone interested in the subject matter, and provides a wealth of resources for researching this topic of growing concern.

(Renfrow & Teuton, 2008)

  • Informative Style -  Similar to an abstract, this style focuses on the summarizing the source.  The annotation should identify the hypothesis, results, and conclusions presented by the source.

Plester, B., Wood, C, & Bell, V. (2008). Txt msg n school literacy: Does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children's literacy attainment? Literacy , 42(3), 137-144.

Reports on two studies that investigated the relationship between children's texting behavior, their knowledge of text abbreviations, and their school attainment in written language skills. In Study One, 11 to 12 year-old children reported their texting behavior and translated a standard English sentence into a text message and vice versa. In Study Two, children's performance on writing measures were examined more specifically, spelling proficiency was also assessed, and KS2 Writing scores were obtained. Positive correlations between spelling ability and performance on the translation exercise were found, and group-based comparisons based on the children's writing scores also showed that good writing attainment was associated with greater use of texting abbreviations (textisms), although the direction of this association is not clear. Overall, these findings suggest that children's knowledge of textisms is not associated with poor written language outcomes for children in this age range. 

(Beach et al., 2009)

  • Evaluative Style - This style analyzes and critically evaluates the source.  The annotation should comment on the source's the strengths, weaknesses, and how it relates to the overall research topic.

Amott, T. (1993). Caught in the Crisis: Women in the U.S. Economy Today . New York: Monthly Review Press.

A very readable (140 pp) economic analysis and information book which I am currently considering as a required collateral assignment in Economics 201. Among its many strengths is a lucid connection of "The Crisis at Home" with the broader, macroeconomic crisis of the U.S. working class (which various other authors have described as the shrinking middle class or the crisis of de-industrialization).

(Papadantonakis, 1996)

  • Indicative Style - This style of annotation identifies the main theme and lists the significant topics included in the source.  Usually no specific details are given beyond the topic list . 


Gambell, T.J., & Hunter, D. M. (1999). Rethinking gender differences in literacy. Canadian Journal of Education , 24(1) 1-16.

Five explanations are offered for recently assessed gender differences in the literacy achievement of male and female students in Canada and other countries. The explanations revolve around evaluative bias, home socialization, role and societal expectations, male psychology, and equity policy.

(Kerka & Imel, 2004)

Beach, R., Bigelow, M., Dillon, D., Dockter, J., Galda, L., Helman, L., . . . Janssen, T. (2009). Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English.  Research in the Teaching of English,   44 (2), 210-241. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27784357

Kerka, S., & Imel, S. (2004). Annotated bibliography: Women and literacy.  Women's Studies Quarterly,  32 (1), 258-271. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233645656?accountid=2909

Papadantonakis, K. (1996). Selected Annotated Bibliography for Economists and Other Social Scientists.  Women's Studies Quarterly,   24 (3/4), 233-238. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40004384

Renfrow, T.G., & Teuton, L.M. (2008). Schoolyard bullying: Peer victimization an annotated bibliography. Community & Junior College Libraries, 14(4), 251-­275. doi:10.1080/02763910802336407

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography - APA Style (7th Edition)

What is an annotation, how is an annotation different from an abstract, what is an annotated bibliography, types of annotated bibliographies, descriptive or informative, analytical or critical, to get started.

An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, website, or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, website, or other type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations.

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract; it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question and its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.

For example:

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulties many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a legal nurse consulting business. Pointing out issues of work-life balance, as well as the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, the author offers their personal experience as a learning tool. The process of becoming an entrepreneur is not often discussed in relation to nursing, and rarely delves into only the first year of starting a new business. Time management, maintaining an existing job, decision-making, and knowing yourself in order to market yourself are discussed with some detail. The author goes on to describe how important both the nursing professional community will be to a new business, and the importance of mentorship as both the mentee and mentor in individual success that can be found through professional connections. The article’s focus on practical advice for nurses seeking to start their own business does not detract from the advice about universal struggles of entrepreneurship makes this an article of interest to a wide-ranging audience.

An analytical or critical annotation not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.

Analytical or critical annotations will most likely be required when writing for a college-level course.

McKinnon, A. (2019). Lessons learned in year one of business.  Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting ,  30 (4), 26–28. This article describes some of the difficulty many nurses experience when transitioning from nursing to a nurse consulting business. While the article focuses on issues of work-life balance, the differences of working for someone else versus working for yourself, marketing, and other business issues the author’s offer of only their personal experience is brief with few or no alternative solutions provided. There is no mention throughout the article of making use of other research about starting a new business and being successful. While relying on the anecdotal advice for their list of issues, the author does reference other business resources such as the Small Business Administration to help with business planning and professional organizations that can help with mentorships. The article is a good resource for those wanting to start their own legal nurse consulting business, a good first advice article even. However, entrepreneurs should also use more business research studies focused on starting a new business, with strategies against known or expected pitfalls and issues new businesses face, and for help on topics the author did not touch in this abbreviated list of lessons learned.

Now you are ready to begin writing your own annotated bibliography.

  • Choose your sources - Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the items - Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • The purpose of the work
  • A summary of its content
  • Information about the author(s)
  • For what type of audience the work is written
  • Its relevance to the topic
  • Any special or unique features about the material
  • Research methodology
  • The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically, check with your instructor to see what he or she prefers.

Please see the  APA Examples page  for more information on citing in APA style.

  • Last Updated: Aug 8, 2023 11:27 AM
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Annotated Bibliography Samples

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.

Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.

Sample MLA Annotation

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.

In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.

For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 9th Edition (2021) Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess . London: Routledge, 1998.

Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.

This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.

For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.

Frequently asked questions

How do i write an annotation for a source.

Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs .

The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment. An annotation can be descriptive, meaning it just describes the source objectively; evaluative, meaning it assesses its usefulness; or reflective, meaning it explains how the source will be used in your own research .

Frequently asked questions: Citing sources

A scientific citation style is a system of source citation that is used in scientific disciplines. Some commonly used scientific citation styles are:

  • Chicago author-date , CSE , and Harvard , used across various sciences
  • ACS , used in chemistry
  • AMA , NLM , and Vancouver , used in medicine and related disciplines
  • AAA , APA , and ASA , commonly used in the social sciences

There are many different citation styles used across different academic disciplines, but they fall into three basic approaches to citation:

  • Parenthetical citations : Including identifying details of the source in parentheses —usually the author’s last name and the publication date, plus a page number if available ( author-date ). The publication date is occasionally omitted ( author-page ).
  • Numerical citations: Including a number in brackets or superscript, corresponding to an entry in your numbered reference list.
  • Note citations: Including a full citation in a footnote or endnote , which is indicated in the text with a superscript number or symbol.

A source annotation in an annotated bibliography fulfills a similar purpose to an abstract : they’re both intended to summarize the approach and key points of a source.

However, an annotation may also evaluate the source , discussing the validity and effectiveness of its arguments. Even if your annotation is purely descriptive , you may have a different perspective on the source from the author and highlight different key points.

You should never just copy text from the abstract for your annotation, as doing so constitutes plagiarism .

Most academics agree that you shouldn’t cite Wikipedia as a source in your academic writing , and universities often have rules against doing so.

This is partly because of concerns about its reliability, and partly because it’s a tertiary source. Tertiary sources are things like encyclopedias and databases that collect information from other sources rather than presenting their own evidence or analysis. Usually, only primary and secondary sources are cited in academic papers.

A Wikipedia citation usually includes the title of the article, “Wikipedia” and/or “Wikimedia Foundation,” the date the article was last updated, and the URL.

In APA Style , you’ll give the URL of the current revision of the article so that you’re sure the reader accesses the same version as you.

There’s some disagreement about whether Wikipedia can be considered a reliable source . Because it can be edited by anyone, many people argue that it’s easy for misleading information to be added to an article without the reader knowing.

Others argue that because Wikipedia articles cite their sources , and because they are worked on by so many editors, misinformation is generally removed quickly.

However, most universities state that you shouldn’t cite Wikipedia in your writing.

Hanging indents are used in reference lists in various citation styles to allow the reader to easily distinguish between entries.

You should apply a hanging indent to your reference entries in APA , MLA , and Chicago style.

A hanging indent is used to indent all lines of a paragraph except the first.

When you create a hanging indent, the first line of the paragraph starts at the border. Each subsequent line is indented 0.5 inches (1.27 cm).

APA and MLA style both use parenthetical in-text citations to cite sources and include a full list of references at the end, but they differ in other ways:

  • APA in-text citations include the author name, date, and page number (Taylor, 2018, p. 23), while MLA in-text citations include only the author name and page number (Taylor 23).
  • The APA reference list is titled “References,” while MLA’s version is called “ Works Cited .”
  • The reference entries differ in terms of formatting and order of information.
  • APA requires a title page , while MLA requires a header instead.

A parenthetical citation in Chicago author-date style includes the author’s last name, the publication date, and, if applicable, the relevant page number or page range in parentheses . Include a comma after the year, but not after the author’s name.

For example: (Swan 2003, 6)

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator .

APA Style distinguishes between parenthetical and narrative citations.

In parenthetical citations , you include all relevant source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence or clause: “Parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity (Levin, 2002).”

In narrative citations , you include the author’s name in the text itself, followed by the publication date in parentheses: “Levin (2002) argues that parts of the human body reflect the principles of tensegrity.”

In a parenthetical citation in MLA style , include the author’s last name and the relevant page number or range in parentheses .

For example: (Eliot 21)

A parenthetical citation gives credit in parentheses to a source that you’re quoting or paraphrasing . It provides relevant information such as the author’s name, the publication date, and the page number(s) cited.

How you use parenthetical citations will depend on your chosen citation style . It will also depend on the type of source you are citing and the number of authors.

APA does not permit the use of ibid. This is because APA in-text citations are parenthetical and there’s no need to shorten them further.

Ibid. may be used in Chicago footnotes or endnotes .

Write “Ibid.” alone when you are citing the same page number and source as the previous citation.

When you are citing the same source, but a different page number, use ibid. followed by a comma and the relevant page number(s). For example:

  • Ibid., 40–42.

Only use ibid . if you are directing the reader to a previous full citation of a source .

Ibid. only refers to the previous citation. Therefore, you should only use ibid. directly after a citation that you want to repeat.

Ibid. is an abbreviation of the Latin “ibidem,” meaning “in the same place.” Ibid. is used in citations to direct the reader to the previous source.

Signal phrases can be used in various ways and can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

To use signal phrases effectively, include:

  • The name of the scholar(s) or study you’re referencing
  • An attributive tag such as “according to” or “argues that”
  • The quote or idea you want to include

Different citation styles require you to use specific verb tenses when using signal phrases.

  • APA Style requires you to use the past or present perfect tense when using signal phrases.
  • MLA and Chicago requires you to use the present tense when using signal phrases.

Signal phrases allow you to give credit for an idea or quote to its author or originator. This helps you to:

  • Establish the credentials of your sources
  • Display your depth of reading and understanding of the field
  • Position your own work in relation to other scholars
  • Avoid plagiarism

A signal phrase is a group of words that ascribes a quote or idea to an outside source.

Signal phrases distinguish the cited idea or argument from your own writing and introduce important information including the source of the material that you are quoting , paraphrasing , or summarizing . For example:

“ Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker (1994) insists that humans possess an innate faculty for comprehending grammar.”

If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarizes other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA and Chicago both recommend retaining the citations as part of the quote. However, MLA recommends omitting citations within a quote:

  • APA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).
  • MLA: Smith states that “the literature on this topic shows no clear consensus” (Smith, 2019, p. 4).

Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted in all styles.

If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase “as cited in” in your citation.

In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.

In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .

As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.

To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

“ Et al. ” is an abbreviation of the Latin term “et alia,” which means “and others.” It’s used in source citations to save space when there are too many authors to name them all.

Guidelines for using “et al.” differ depending on the citation style you’re following:

To insert endnotes in Microsoft Word, follow the steps below:

  • Click on the spot in the text where you want the endnote to show up.
  • In the “References” tab at the top, select “Insert Endnote.”
  • Type whatever text you want into the endnote.

If you need to change the type of notes used in a Word document from footnotes to endnotes , or the other way around, follow these steps:

  • Open the “References” tab, and click the arrow in the bottom-right corner of the “Footnotes” section.
  • In the pop-up window, click on “Convert…”
  • Choose the option you need, and click “OK.”

To insert a footnote automatically in a Word document:

  • Click on the point in the text where the footnote should appear
  • Select the “References” tab at the top and then click on “Insert Footnote”
  • Type the text you want into the footnote that appears at the bottom of the page

Footnotes are notes indicated in your text with numbers and placed at the bottom of the page. They’re used to provide:

  • Citations (e.g., in Chicago notes and bibliography )
  • Additional information that would disrupt the flow of the main text

Be sparing in your use of footnotes (other than citation footnotes), and consider whether the information you’re adding is relevant for the reader.

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page they refer to. This is convenient for the reader but may cause your text to look cluttered if there are a lot of footnotes.

Endnotes appear all together at the end of the whole text. This may be less convenient for the reader but reduces clutter.

Both footnotes and endnotes are used in the same way: to cite sources or add extra information. You should usually choose one or the other to use in your text, not both.

An in-text citation is an acknowledgement you include in your text whenever you quote or paraphrase a source. It usually gives the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number of the relevant text. In-text citations allow the reader to look up the full source information in your reference list and see your sources for themselves.

If you are reusing content or data you used in a previous assignment, make sure to cite yourself. You can cite yourself just as you would cite any other source: simply follow the directions for that source type in the citation style you are using.

Keep in mind that reusing your previous work can be considered self-plagiarism , so make sure you ask your professor or consult your university’s handbook before doing so.

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilizing rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication. For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project– provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well-regarded.

Academic dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional, ranging from something as simple as claiming to have read something you didn’t to copying your neighbor’s answers on an exam.

You can commit academic dishonesty with the best of intentions, such as helping a friend cheat on a paper. Severe academic dishonesty can include buying a pre-written essay or the answers to a multiple-choice test, or falsifying a medical emergency to avoid taking a final exam.

Academic dishonesty refers to deceitful or misleading behavior in an academic setting. Academic dishonesty can occur intentionally or unintentionally, and varies in severity.

It can encompass paying for a pre-written essay, cheating on an exam, or committing plagiarism . It can also include helping others cheat, copying a friend’s homework answers, or even pretending to be sick to miss an exam.

Academic dishonesty doesn’t just occur in a classroom setting, but also in research and other academic-adjacent fields.

To apply a hanging indent to your reference list or Works Cited list in Word or Google Docs, follow the steps below.

Microsoft Word:

  • Highlight the whole list and right click to open the Paragraph options.
  • Under Indentation > Special , choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.
  • Set the indent to 0.5 inches or 1.27cm.

Google Docs:

  • Highlight the whole list and click on Format >  Align and indent >  Indentation options .
  • Under  Special indent , choose Hanging from the dropdown menu.

When the hanging indent is applied, for each reference, every line except the first is indented. This helps the reader see where one entry ends and the next begins.

For a published interview (whether in video , audio, or print form ), you should always include a citation , just as you would for any other source.

For an interview you conducted yourself , formally or informally, you often don’t need a citation and can just refer to it in the text or in a footnote , since the reader won’t be able to look them up anyway. MLA , however, still recommends including citations for your own interviews.

The main elements included in a newspaper interview citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the names of the interviewer and interviewee, the interview title, the publication date, the name of the newspaper, and a URL (for online sources).

The information is presented differently in different citation styles. One key difference is that APA advises listing the interviewer in the author position, while MLA and Chicago advise listing the interviewee first.

The elements included in a newspaper article citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author name, the article title, the publication date, the newspaper name, and the URL if the article was accessed online .

In APA and MLA, the page numbers of the article appear in place of the URL if the article was accessed in print. No page numbers are used in Chicago newspaper citations.

Untitled sources (e.g. some images ) are usually cited using a short descriptive text in place of the title. In APA Style , this description appears in brackets: [Chair of stained oak]. In MLA and Chicago styles, no brackets are used: Chair of stained oak.

For social media posts, which are usually untitled, quote the initial words of the post in place of the title: the first 160 characters in Chicago , or the first 20 words in APA . E.g. Biden, J. [@JoeBiden]. “The American Rescue Plan means a $7,000 check for a single mom of four. It means more support to safely.”

MLA recommends quoting the full post for something short like a tweet, and just describing the post if it’s longer.

The main elements included in image citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the image’s creator, the image title, the year (or more precise date) of publication, and details of the container in which the image was found (e.g. a museum, book , website ).

In APA and Chicago style, it’s standard to also include a description of the image’s format (e.g. “Photograph” or “Oil on canvas”). This sort of information may be included in MLA too, but is not mandatory.

The main elements included in a lecture citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the speaker, the lecture title, the date it took place, the course or event it was part of, and the institution it took place at.

For transcripts or recordings of lectures/speeches, other details like the URL, the name of the book or website , and the length of the recording may be included instead of information about the event and institution.

The main elements included in a YouTube video citation across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name of the author/uploader, the title of the video, the publication date, and the URL.

The format in which this information appears is different for each style.

All styles also recommend using timestamps as a locator in the in-text citation or Chicago footnote .

Any credible sources on your topic can be included in an annotated bibliography . The exact sources you cover will vary depending on the assignment, but you should usually focus on collecting journal articles and scholarly books . When in doubt, utilize the CRAAP test !

An annotated bibliography is an assignment where you collect sources on a specific topic and write an annotation for each source. An annotation is a short text that describes and sometimes evaluates the source.

The elements included in journal article citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the name(s) of the author(s), the title of the article, the year of publication, the name of the journal, the volume and issue numbers, the page range of the article, and, when accessed online, the DOI or URL.

In MLA and Chicago style, you also include the specific month or season of publication alongside the year, when this information is available.

In APA , MLA , and Chicago style citations for sources that don’t list a specific author (e.g. many websites ), you can usually list the organization responsible for the source as the author.

If the organization is the same as the website or publisher, you shouldn’t repeat it twice in your reference:

  • In APA and Chicago, omit the website or publisher name later in the reference.
  • In MLA, omit the author element at the start of the reference, and cite the source title instead.

If there’s no appropriate organization to list as author, you will usually have to begin the citation and reference entry with the title of the source instead.

The main elements included in website citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author, the date of publication, the page title, the website name, and the URL. The information is presented differently in each style.

When you want to cite a specific passage in a source without page numbers (e.g. an e-book or website ), all the main citation styles recommend using an alternate locator in your in-text citation . You might use a heading or chapter number, e.g. (Smith, 2016, ch. 1)

In APA Style , you can count the paragraph numbers in a text to identify a location by paragraph number. MLA and Chicago recommend that you only use paragraph numbers if they’re explicitly marked in the text.

For audiovisual sources (e.g. videos ), all styles recommend using a timestamp to show a specific point in the video when relevant.

The abbreviation “ et al. ” (Latin for “and others”) is used to shorten citations of sources with multiple authors.

“Et al.” is used in APA in-text citations of sources with 3+ authors, e.g. (Smith et al., 2019). It is not used in APA reference entries .

Use “et al.” for 3+ authors in MLA in-text citations and Works Cited entries.

Use “et al.” for 4+ authors in a Chicago in-text citation , and for 10+ authors in a Chicago bibliography entry.

Check if your university or course guidelines specify which citation style to use. If the choice is left up to you, consider which style is most commonly used in your field.

  • APA Style is the most popular citation style, widely used in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • MLA style is the second most popular, used mainly in the humanities.
  • Chicago notes and bibliography style is also popular in the humanities, especially history.
  • Chicago author-date style tends to be used in the sciences.

Other more specialized styles exist for certain fields, such as Bluebook and OSCOLA for law.

The most important thing is to choose one style and use it consistently throughout your text.

The main elements included in all book citations across APA , MLA , and Chicago style are the author, the title, the year of publication, and the name of the publisher. A page number is also included in in-text citations to highlight the specific passage cited.

In Chicago style and in the 6th edition of APA Style , the location of the publisher is also included, e.g. London: Penguin.

A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate “block” of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.

The rules for when to apply block quote formatting depend on the citation style:

  • APA block quotes are 40 words or longer.
  • MLA block quotes are more than 4 lines of prose or 3 lines of poetry.
  • Chicago block quotes are longer than 100 words.

In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:

  • To analyze the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
  • To give evidence from primary sources
  • To accurately present a precise definition or argument

Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarize .

Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .

For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: “This is a quote” (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).

Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.

A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.

The DOI is usually clearly visible when you open a journal article on an academic database. It is often listed near the publication date, and includes “doi.org” or “DOI:”. If the database has a “cite this article” button, this should also produce a citation with the DOI included.

If you can’t find the DOI, you can search on Crossref using information like the author, the article title, and the journal name.

A DOI is a unique identifier for a digital document. DOIs are important in academic citation because they are more permanent than URLs, ensuring that your reader can reliably locate the source.

Journal articles and ebooks can often be found on multiple different websites and databases. The URL of the page where an article is hosted can be changed or removed over time, but a DOI is linked to the specific document and never changes.

When a book’s chapters are written by different authors, you should cite the specific chapter you are referring to.

When all the chapters are written by the same author (or group of authors), you should usually cite the entire book, but some styles include exceptions to this.

  • In APA Style , single-author books should always be cited as a whole, even if you only quote or paraphrase from one chapter.
  • In MLA Style , if a single-author book is a collection of stand-alone works (e.g. short stories ), you should cite the individual work.
  • In Chicago Style , you may choose to cite a single chapter of a single-author book if you feel it is more appropriate than citing the whole book.

Articles in newspapers and magazines can be primary or secondary depending on the focus of your research.

In historical studies, old articles are used as primary sources that give direct evidence about the time period. In social and communication studies, articles are used as primary sources to analyze language and social relations (for example, by conducting content analysis or discourse analysis ).

If you are not analyzing the article itself, but only using it for background information or facts about your topic, then the article is a secondary source.

A fictional movie is usually a primary source. A documentary can be either primary or secondary depending on the context.

If you are directly analyzing some aspect of the movie itself – for example, the cinematography, narrative techniques, or social context – the movie is a primary source.

If you use the movie for background information or analysis about your topic – for example, to learn about a historical event or a scientific discovery – the movie is a secondary source.

Whether it’s primary or secondary, always properly cite the movie in the citation style you are using. Learn how to create an MLA movie citation or an APA movie citation .

To determine if a source is primary or secondary, ask yourself:

  • Was the source created by someone directly involved in the events you’re studying (primary), or by another researcher (secondary)?
  • Does the source provide original information (primary), or does it summarize information from other sources (secondary)?
  • Are you directly analyzing the source itself (primary), or only using it for background information (secondary)?

Some types of source are nearly always primary: works of art and literature, raw statistical data, official documents and records, and personal communications (e.g. letters, interviews ). If you use one of these in your research, it is probably a primary source.

Primary sources are often considered the most credible in terms of providing evidence for your argument, as they give you direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it’s up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate.

Always make sure to properly cite your sources to avoid plagiarism .

Common examples of secondary sources include academic books, journal articles , reviews, essays , and textbooks.

Anything that summarizes, evaluates or interprets primary sources can be a secondary source. If a source gives you an overview of background information or presents another researcher’s ideas on your topic, it is probably a secondary source.

Common examples of primary sources include interview transcripts , photographs, novels, paintings, films, historical documents, and official statistics.

Anything you directly analyze or use as first-hand evidence can be a primary source, including qualitative or quantitative data that you collected yourself.

The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.

You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .

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The Civil Fraud Ruling on Donald Trump, Annotated

By Kate Christobek

Former President Donald J. Trump was penalized $355 million , plus millions more in interest, and banned for three years from serving in any top roles at a New York company, including his own, in a ruling on Friday by Justice Arthur F. Engoron. The decision comes after the state's attorney general, Letitia James, sued Mr. Trump, members of his family and his company in 2022.

The ruling expands on Justice Engoron’s decision last fall , which found that Mr. Trump’s financial statements were filled with fraudulent claims. Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty and is likely to appeal other restrictions; he has already appealed last fall’s ruling.

The New York Times annotated the document.

Download the original PDF .

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New York Times Analysis

This ruling by Justice Arthur F. Engoron is a result of a 2022 lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James , against Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization; his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; the company’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and former controller Jeffrey McConney; and several of their related entities. Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was also initially a defendant until an appeals court dismissed the case against her.

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The law under which Ms. James sued, known by its shorthand 63(12), requires the plaintiff to show a defendant’s conduct was deceptive . If that standard is met, a judge can impose severe punishment, including forfeiting the money obtained through fraud. Ms. James has also used this law against the oil company ExxonMobil, the tobacco brand Juul and the pharma executive Martin Shkreli.

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Justice Engoron is now providing a background of this case. This ruling comes after a three-year investigation by the attorney general’s office and the conclusion of a trial that ended last month. But this likely won’t be Mr. Trump’s last word on the matter — he will appeal the financial penalty and is likely to appeal other restrictions, as he has already appealed other rulings.

In late 2022, Justice Engoron assigned a former federal judge, Barbara Jones, to serve as a monitor at the Trump Organization and tasked her with keeping an eye on the company and its lending relationships. Last month, she issued a report citing inconsistencies in its financial reporting, which “may reflect a lack of adequate internal controls.”

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Here, Justice Engoron is laying out the laws he considered in his ruling beyond 63(12). The attorney general’s lawsuit included allegations of violations of falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and related conspiracy offenses.

Justice Engoron is explaining the decision, issued a week before the trial, in which he found that Mr. Trump’s financial statements were filled with fraud , fundamentally shaping the rest of the trial.

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For over 50 pages, Justice Engoron describes his conclusions about the testimony of all of the witnesses who spoke during the trial.

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Justice Engoron discusses Mr. McConney’s important role in preparing Mr. Trump’s financial statements. The judge points out that Mr. McConney prepared all the valuations on the statements in consultation with Mr. Weisselberg.

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In his discussion of Mr. Weisselberg, Justice Engoron calls his testimony in the trial “intentionally evasive.” Justice Engoron then brings up Mr. Weisselberg’s separation agreement from the Trump Organization, which prohibited him from voluntarily cooperating with any entities “adverse” to the organization. Justice Engoron says that this renders Mr. Weisselberg’s testimony highly unreliable.

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When Donald Trump Jr. testified in court, he disavowed responsibility for his father’s financial statements despite serving as a trustee of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust while his father was president. But Justice Engoron specifically cites here that Donald Trump Jr. certified that he was responsible for the financial statements, and testified that he intended for the banks to rely on them and that the statements were “materially accurate.”

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During his testimony, Eric Trump, the Trump Organization’s de facto chief executive, initially denied knowing about his father’s financial statements until this case. As Justice Engoron points out here, Eric Trump eventually conceded to knowing about them as early as 2013. As a result, Justice Engoron calls Eric Trump’s credibility “severely damaged.”

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Justice Engoron points to Mr. Trump’s testimony when he took the witness stand in November when Mr. Trump acknowledged that he helped put together his annual financial statements. Mr. Trump said he would see them and occasionally have suggestions.

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After four pages of describing Mr. Trump’s testimony, Justice Engoron says Mr. Trump rarely responded to the questions asked and frequently interjected long, irrelevant speeches, which all “severely compromised his credibility.”

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For several pages, Justice Engoron provides background on specific assets that Mr. Trump included in his annual financial statements.

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The judge is clarifying that Ms. James had to prove her claims by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning she had to demonstrate it was more likely than not that Mr. Trump and the co-defendants should be held liable. This is a lower standard than that of a criminal trial, which requires that evidence be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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During the trial, Mr. Trump and his legal team tried to shift the blame for any inaccuracies in his financial statements onto his outside accountants. But Justice Engoron criticizes that argument here.

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During the monthslong trial, Mr. Trump, his legal team and several witnesses stressed that real estate appraisals are an art, not a science. But here it’s clear Justice Engoron, while agreeing with that sentiment, also believes it’s deceptive when different appraisals rely on different assumptions.

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Justice Engoron is now going through the defendants one by one and articulating the evidence that shows each of their “intent to defraud,” which is required by the statute against falsifying business records. Notably, his first paragraph describing the former president’s intent provides examples including Mr. Trump’s awareness that his triplex apartment was not 30,000 square feet and his valuation of Mar-a-Lago as a single-family residence even though it was deeded as a social club.

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Among the defendants, Justice Engoron finds only Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney liable for insurance fraud. Here, he doesn’t provide an explanation for why the other defendants, including Mr. Trump and his adult sons, were not found liable, and he says that both Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConney made false representations to insurance companies about Mr. Trump’s financial statements.

While Mr. Trump and his adult sons were not found liable for insurance fraud, here Justice Engoron finds them liable for conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, explaining that they all “aided and abetted” the conspiracy to commit insurance fraud by falsifying business records.

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Justice Engoron here adopts the approximations of Michiel McCarty, the attorney general’s expert witness. Justice Engoron says Mr. McCarty testified “reliably and convincingly,” and finds that the defendants’ fraud saved them over $168 million in interest.

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In finding that the defendants were able to purchase the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., through their use of the fraudulent financial statements, Justice Engoron rules that the defendants’ proceeds from the sale of the post office in 2022 should be considered “ill-gotten gains.” He penalizes Donald Trump and his companies over $126 million, and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump $4 million each, for this one property.

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Justice Engoron blasts the defendants for failing to admit that they were wrong in their valuations — adding that “their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.” He says that this inability to admit error makes him believe they will continue their fraudulent activities unless “judicially restrained.”

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The judge cites other examples of Mr. Trump’s “ongoing propensity to engage in fraud,” bringing up lawsuits against Trump University and the Donald J. Trump Foundation. He also notably raises two criminal cases brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office: one against Mr. Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and falsifying business records , and another against the Trump Organization, which was convicted of 17 criminal counts including tax fraud .

Justice Engoron states that Judge Barbara Jones, who has been serving as an independent monitor at the Trump Organization since 2022, will continue in that role for at least three years. He clarifies that going forward, her role will be enhanced and she will review Trump Organization financial disclosures before they are submitted to any third party, to ensure that there are no material misstatements.

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In addition to extending the monitor’s tenure and strengthening her powers, Justice Engoron also took the unusual step of ordering that an independent compliance director be installed inside The Trump organization, and that they report directly to the monitor.

— William K. Rashbaum

In his pre-trial order, Justice Engoron ordered the cancellation of some of Mr. Trump’s business licenses . But here, he pulls back on that decision and instead says that any “restructuring and potential dissolution” would be up to Ms. Jones, the independent monitor.

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Justice Engoron lays out his bans against the defendants, ruling that Mr. Trump, Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConney cannot serve as officers or directors of any corporation or legal entity in New York for the next three years, and bans his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump for two years from the same. He also prohibits Mr. Trump from applying for any loans from any New York banks for the next three years. The ruling goes further in the cases of Mr. Weisselberg and Mr. McConney, permanently barring them from serving in the financial control function of any New York business.

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Justice Engoron also ordered that Mr. Trump and his sons pay the interest, pushing the penalty to $450 million, according to Ms. James.

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An earlier version of this article misstated how long the adult sons of former President Donald J. Trump — Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — were barred by Justice Arthur F. Engoron from serving as officers or directors of any corporation or legal entity in New York. It was two years, not three. The article also misstated the number of pages in which Justice Engoron describes his conclusions about the testimony of all of the non-defendant witnesses. It was under 50 pages, not over 50 pages. The article also misstated the number of pages in the section in which Justice Engoron provides background on specific assets that Mr. Trump included in his annual financial statements. It was several pages, not more than a dozen pages.

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Why Data Breaches Spiked in 2023

  • Stuart Madnick

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And what companies can do to better secure users’ personal information.

In spite of recent efforts to beef up cybersecurity, data breaches — in which hackers steal personal data — continue to increase year-on-year: there was a 20% increase in data breaches from 2022 to 2023. There are three primary reasons behind this increased theft of personal data: (1) cloud misconfiguration, (2) new types of ransomware attacks, and (3) increased exploitation of vendor systems. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the impact of each of these factors.

For many years, organizations have struggled to protect themselves from cyberattacks: companies, universities, and government agencies have expended enormous amounts of resources to secure themselves. But in spite of those efforts, data breaches — in which hackers steal personal data — continue to increase year-on-year: there was a 20% increase in data breaches from 2022 to 2023 . Some of the trends around this uptick are disturbing. For example, globally, there were twice the number of victims in 2023 compared to 2022, and in the Middle East, ransomware gang activity increased by 77% in that same timeframe.

  • Stuart Madnick  is the John Norris Maguire (1960) Professor of Information Technologies in the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor of Engineering Systems in the MIT School of Engineering, and Director of Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan (CAMS): the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. He has been active in the cybersecurity field since co-authoring the book Computer Security in 1979.

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Using Figma in World Language Classes

Figma helps teachers design visually appealing interactive presentations and assignments that can boost student engagement.

Students working at laptops together

Educational technology plays a pivotal role in shaping the way my students learn and the way I teach my middle school Spanish class. When I was looking for a way to present information that went beyond Google Slides, I discovered Figma , a free collaborative design tool that has had a huge impact on student learning.

Figma offers two products, both free for education. Figma Design is a tool teachers can use to create presentations, graphics, and prototypes that can be shared with students. These designs can all be shared in real time while teaching and provide instant feedback to students. The second product is FigJam, an online whiteboard for facilitating collaborative learning while encouraging active participation from students. Both have been game changers in how teaching and learning happens in my classroom.

Presenting Material

Education is not just about imparting information; it’s also about creating an engaging learning environment for all of my middle school students. Figma’s visual design capabilities have brought a new dimension to the way I present content. I use Figma Design to create visually appealing presentations, infographics, and interactive learning materials, which help make the educational experience more engaging for my students. 

For review days, which usually occur prior to the unit assessment, I create Figma presentations that students can access at home. The online review presentations also eliminate the need for students to keep track of all the paper materials related to a unit. 

Additionally, I enjoy making infographics when I am teaching about the weather or our clothing unit. Students can click the images that redirect them to other websites to further their own learning. When teaching about weather, students can click icons that take them to weather websites in Spanish-speaking countries. While using the infographics for clothing units, I create icons that direct students to clothing stores that are located in Spanish-speaking countries. These are real-world examples and help bring relevancy into the lesson. 


Figma also helps design assignments. I have begun to use their premade flowcharts, which are documents that are used to explain processes. For example, I have students use this when they are drafting their research and need to articulate the multiple steps they must take in order to write the paper or complete the project.

In one project, I asked my students to plan an all-expenses-paid vacation to a Spanish-speaking country. My students used Figma’s brainstorming template to map out what they were doing and what their next steps might be. This was a long and detailed project, and the brainstorming document helped students work a little bit at a time. They typed in where they were traveling to, how they would get there, what activities they would do when they were there, the currency, the weather, and local cuisines they wanted to try. I found it helpful to monitor and track their progress over time when I could see their entire project in simple steps.

I have also integrated Figma into poster-design projects. With Figma Design, students can all make edits in the file at the same time, collaboratively building and creating to show their learning. This year, my students created Dia de los Muertos offerings as a digital poster. We also created a poster about famous Hispanic individuals in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month in October. I print and hang the final infographics outside of my classroom for others to see, which makes my students proud of their work.

Teacher-Student Feedback

The feedback loop is a crucial component of effective teaching and learning for both myself and my students. I find that the longer I wait in giving my students feedback, the less likely it is that it will help in both the short and long term. Through Figma, the feedback process allows me to provide real-time comments directly on my student projects and work. For example, my students and I can be in the same file at the same time, and we can use the comment feature to give specific, actionable feedback in the moment.

This immediate feedback loop is invaluable in helping students refine their work, understand concepts more deeply, and cultivate a growth mindset. I offer constructive feedback on design choices when they do their infographics projects, content organization, and overall presentation, which help my students submit their very best work. Providing feedback regularly and constantly helps move student learning forward. I give the students immediate feedback when it pertains to their written skills. This can be subject-verb agreement, accent marks, and noun-adjective agreement, to name just a few.

FigJam for Interactive Lessons

In class, we often watch cultural videos about events such as the Running of the Bulls, Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve in Spain), and La Tomatina . As we watch the videos, students use FigJam to talk about their learning with their peers. This is especially beneficial for me, as I can view all of their responses at one time and give feedback as needed.

world language slide

Some of my other favorite features on FigJam include a timer in the far left corner that helps keep students on task and the option to play music while working. For example, if it is used during the bell ringer/exit ticket, then I use the five-minute timer. This instills a sense of urgency for students to not delay their work and stay engaged, and it keeps me on task. The music options help provide a soothing working environment when students are completing independent practice. If I need to get students more energized, there is the option to play upbeat music as well. Also, students can add sticky notes, annotate, and insert photos, texts, and stamps on their own and peers’ comments—the learning is interactive.

Figma’s integration into my digital classroom has helped shift the way I approach my teaching and student learning. By promoting student collaboration, enhancing visual learning, and providing a platform for project-based engagement, Figma emerges as a powerful resource for me to promote student engagement while maximizing teaching. 


  1. How To Annotate An Article: Learn Annotation Strategies

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  2. How To Annotate Example

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  3. How To Annotate An Article: Learn Annotation Strategies

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  1. How To Annotate An Article: Learn Annotation Strategies

    To 'annotate' is, simply, to 'add notes'. These could be comments, explanations, criticisms, or questions pertaining to whatever text you're reading. To annotate a text, you generally highlight or underline important pieces of information and make notes in the margin. You can annotate different texts.

  2. 3 Ways to Annotate an Article

    1 Recognize why you should annotate. Annotating, or interacting with, an article can help you understand the piece, highlight important concepts, and enhance your recall of the material. Things to note in your annotations include: Background on the author Themes throughout the text The author's purpose for writing the text The author's thesis

  3. Annotation Examples Simply Explained

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    SAMPLE DESCRIPTIVE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation. Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51 (4), 541-554.

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    Identify key concepts Monitor your learning as you read Make exam prep effective and streamlined Can be more efficient than creating a separate set of reading notes How do you annotate? Summarize key points in your own words. Use headers and words in bold to guide you Look for main ideas, arguments, and points of evidence

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    What is the author trying to do? This process will take time, but it is important because it will help you effectively use sources in a paper. Paraphrasing and Summarizing Two of the main ways writers incorporate sources are paraphrasing and summarizing. These techniques are similar but distinct in important ways, as illustrated by this chart:

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    Creating an annotated bibliography in APA style. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 7th edition (APA Manual) is kept behind the iDesk on the First Floor.. This example is based on the APA style guide, but your instructor might give you other formatting instructions.. General guidelines. Some annotations are merely descriptive, summarizing the authors ...

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    Step 3a: MLA annotated bibliography format. The MLA Style Center and the current edition of the MLA Handbook provide the following guidance for formatting an MLA annotated bibliography: Title your reference page as "Annotated Bibliography" or "Annotated List of Works Cited.". Place each annotation after its reference.

  18. The Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. ... Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries. The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ...

  19. Writing Annotations

    Writing Annotations An annotation is a brief note following each citation listed on an annotated bibliography. The goal is to briefly summarize the source and/or explain why it is important for a topic. They are typically a single concise paragraph, but might be longer if you are summarizing and evaluating.

  20. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

    An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, website, or other type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why?

  21. Annotated Bibliography Samples

    Sample MLA Annotation. Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, 1995. Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and ...

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    Each annotation in an annotated bibliography is usually between 50 and 200 words long. Longer annotations may be divided into paragraphs. The content of the annotation varies according to your assignment.

  23. How to Write an Annotated Bibliography, With Examples

    If the annotation spans more than one paragraph, use an extra indentation of 0.5 inches (2.5 inches from the edge of the page) for the first line of any paragraphs after the first. Title the page either "Annotated Bibliography" or "Annotated List of Works Cited.".

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  29. Figma in World Language Classes

    Figma offers two products, both free for education. Figma Design is a tool teachers can use to create presentations, graphics, and prototypes that can be shared with students. These designs can all be shared in real time while teaching and provide instant feedback to students. The second product is FigJam, an online whiteboard for facilitating ...