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POLS 202: Introduction to American Government & Politics (Nelson): Create An Annotated Bibliography

What is An Annotated Bibliography?


A Bibliography is a list of the sources you used to research your topic.

An Annotated Bibliography includes a citation and a short summary/analysis (called an “annotation”) for each source. 

Follow your instructor's specific guidelines for the length and content of your annotated bibliography.

A common structure for the annotation is:

Summary: Include answers to some of these questions:

  • what type of source is this? (book, article…etc.)
  • what is this source about? – a brief summary
  • what topic(s) does it cover?  how extensive is its coverage?
  • what are its main arguments or themes?

Analysis: Include answers to some of these questions:

  • why did you choose this source?
  • in what ways is it an authoritative and credible source for your purposes?
  • how is it helpful for your project or how does it shape your argument?
  • how does it fit in with the rest of your research?

Example APA Annotated Bibliography

Scott, D. (1999). Camp William Penn's black soldiers in blue. America's Civil War., 12(4), 44-50.

       After the Emancipation Proclamation, may free black slaves enlisted in the Union Army at Camp William Penn. This journal article provides an overview of their training at the Camp, the racism they experienced from the community and their bravery during battle. It gives detailed examples of discrimination the soldiers faced from the Philadelphia citizens as well as from some of their own commanding officers. The theme running through the article is that while black troops were an important part of the military, they faced significant racism even as they attempted to fight for the northern cause.

     I chose this source because it discusses the conditions of the largest training facility for ex-slave soldiers and so provides one basis by which to judge the treatment of black soldiers during the Civil War. It is helpful because it depicts discrimination faced by the soldiers and gives them a voice, even including some quotes from the soldiers. This source was unique in that it described the citizen reaction to having black soldiers in their midst. It helped shape my argument because it shows that racism existed not only in the South, but also in the North and within the military, proving that African American soldiers faced an uphill struggle even as they assisted the Union's victory.


(note that the above annotation should be completely double-spaced)

Additional examples

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) 

For more examples and help with citations, consider the Online Writing Lab at Purdue.