Annotated Bibliography

The Annotated Bibliography

Include all of the sources you used for your project.

Obviously, if you ended up not using a source, you don’t need to include it in the annotated bibliography. From NHD’s website: “It should contain all sources that provided usable information or new perspectives in preparing your entry. You will look at many more sources than you actually use. You should list only those sources that contributed to the development of your entry.”

what goes into an annotation?

  • Around three or five clear, concise complete sentences.
  • An explanation of whether the source is primary or secondary — be sure to point it out if you are utilizing primary sources published in a secondary source. Call attention to the fact that you are using the primary sources within that secondary source.
  • An explanation of what the source is (1 sentence).
  • An explanation of how you used source, meaning what you learned from it or what you took from it (1-2 sentences).
  • An explanation of the source helped you understand your topic (1-2 sentences).

Past student examples of annotated bibliography entries

Eichenwald, Kurt. The Informant: A True Story. New York: Broadway, 2009. Print.

This source is an extremely detailed narrative of the events that unfolded before, during, and after the ADM price fixing investigation. I used this source to gather small details of the story, as well as some direct quotes. It helped me understand just about every aspect of my topic, and the list of main characters at the beginning of the book helped me keep all of the names straight. I categorized this resource as a secondary source because Kurt Eichenwald is an author that had no relationship to the case, but spent around 800 hours interviewing key people.

The Informant – March 10, 1994, Hawaii. Youtube. Google, 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2014. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHkxLu-     ikCQ>.

This source is a raw FBI surveillance video created during one of the price fixing meetings. I used this source in my documentary to show the types of tapes Whitacre recorded for the FBI and to give my audience an inside look into an illegal price fixing meeting. This source helped me understand what it was like inside one of the price fixing meetings. I attributed this source a primary source because it was made by the FBI during an actual price fixing meeting.

Black Panther Co-Founder Bobby Seale discusses Huey P. Newton, COINTELPRO & other Topics {Part 1}. By Hebrew’s Truth & Consequences. YouTube. Google, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7c-ZrnqBts&gt;.

This video is an interview with Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party. The video covers all aspects of the Black Panther Party, and it  goes in depth about the decline of the party. We used this video to take notes on the decline for “The Decline” page on the website. This video helped us better understand why the Black Panther Party declined. We categorized this video clip as a primary source because it is a first hand interview with Bobby Seale.

The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation. “What We Want – Ten Point Platform.” Blackpanther.org. Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. <http://blackpanther.org/TenPoint.html&gt;.

We used this page of the website to get a feel for the Ten Point Program. We put all these words in quotes on our website because it is all important. This page has the whole Ten Point Program with the goal of the Black Panther Party when writing each point. Also, the Black Panthers give their reasoning on creating each point of the program. This source helped us understand the Black Panther Party’s goal in creating the Ten Point Program. We classified this website page as a primary source because the Ten Point Program and the comments to the program were both written by the Black Panther Party during the time of our topic. 


More information from the NHD Website:

In addition to explaining how you used a source or how it helped you, you sometimes need to include some additional information in an annotation. Here are some examples:

  • Classification of primary or secondary source. You should use the annotation to explain why you categorized a particular source as primary or secondary, If that is likely to be at all controversial. Historians do sometimes disagree and there’s not always one right answer, so justify your choice to the judges.
  • Secondary source which included primary sources. You also may use the annotation to explain that a book or other secondary source included several primary sources used for the paper. Examples: “This book included three letters between person X on the frontier and person Y back in New England, which provided insight into the struggles and experiences of the settlers.” “This book provided four photos of settlers on the Great Plains and their homes, which were used on the exhibit.”
  • Fuller explanation of credits for documentaries. You are supposed to give credit in the documentary itself for photos or other primary sources, but you can do this in a general way, such as by writing, “Photos from: National Archives, Ohio Historical Society, A Photographic History of the Civil War” rather than listing each photo individually in the documentary credits, which would take up too much of your allotted 10 minutes. You then must use the annotation in the bibliography to provide more detailed information.
  • Should I list each photograph or document individually? You should handle this differently in notes than in the bibliography. When you are citing sources for specific pieces of information or interpretations, such as in footnotes or endnotes, you should cite the individual document or photograph. In the bibliography, however, you would cite only the collection as a whole, not all the individual items. You should include the full title of the collection (e.g., Digges-Sewall Papers or the Hutzler Collection), the institution, city and state where the collection is located (e.g., Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Md.). You can use the annotation to explain that this collection provided 7 photographs which you used in your exhibit or that collection provided 14 letters which were important in helping you trace what happened. The same treatment applies to newspaper articles. In the footnotes or endnotes, you should cite the individual articles and issues of a newspaper. In the bibliography, you would list only the newspaper itself, not the individual issues or articles; you can use the annotation to explain that you used X number of days of the newspaper for your research.
  • How many sources should I have for my annotated bibliography? We can’t tell you a specific number of sources, as that will vary by the topic and by the resources to which you have reasonable access. For some topics, such as the Civil War or many 20th-century U.S. topics, there are many sources available to you. For other topics, such as those in ancient history or non-U.S. history, there likely are far fewer sources available to you. The more good sources you have, the better, but don’t pad your bibliography. Only list items which you actually use; if you looked at a source but it didn’t help you at all, don’t list it in your bibliography.

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