In a more extensive piece of academic writing, the annotated bibliography helps the reader who wants to dig deeper to find just the right source for his or her interest.
For the writer, the annotated bibliography will become a go-to resource to continue the research process.
Also, the process of writing an annotated bibliography will help you to evaluate your sources up front and make sure you are finding sources that will be useful for your paper before you get elbow-deep in writing. What if you put all this work into writing a paper and then you realize there aren’t enough quality sources out there (or aren’t enough that meet your professor’s requirements, or aren’t enough in a language you can read…yes this has happened to me! Since our mission is to study smarter, we obviously want to avoid wasting time like that.
The annotated bibliography will help you make sure you have what you need, so even if your professor doesn’t require one, you should create one anyways!
Now you are ready to go write your annotated bibliography!
Be sure to refer back to the post about finding good academic sources; the better sources you find, the easier it will be to write a great annotated bibliography and a great research paper.
For example, if the author was a black abolitionist preacher during the Civil War era, you are going to read the source differently than if it was written by a 20th-century historian. She also describes the involvement of her pastor uncle in both the abolition and temperance movements.
Why is this source going to help you with this paper? If your professor does not specify the number of sources required for the annotated bibliography, then you want to aim for about 20% more than would be required or expected for the paper.
There are even published books that are extensive annotated bibliographies on a particular topic. That just means that I may receive a small commission if you buy a product linked on this page.
It sure helps towards paying off those student loans!