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Annotated Bibliographies: How do I write one?
(Engeldinger's 9)

General guidelines for writing annotations for your sources.

Checklist for Creating an Annotation

1: Criticize while Reading:

  1. PATS (learn more)
    • Purpose
    • Authority
    • Timeliness
    • Scope
  2. Writing style
    • Formal, informal, etc.
    • Does that affect the message of the source and how you will use it?
  3. Additives
    • Graphs? Illustrations? Figures? Do these enrich your understanding?

2. Criticize while Writing the Annotation:

  1. Summarize the content--briefly.
  2. Explain why your selection was chosen--how does it interact with your research?
  3. Discuss the value of the piece--include all relevant points from the steps above or Engeldinger's 9 Questions below.

3. For your Own Writing:

  • Write using third person (avoid the use of "I" and "you").
  • Support your points with evidence from the source.

Engeldinger's 9 Questions

Several English professors at Wartburg recommend Engeldinger's 9 questions as a guide for writing your annotations. These questions cover the same material as described in the box above, so feel free to use whichever guide helps you think through the source best. Make sure that if your professor requires you to use these questions, you do so.

Engeldinger's 9 Questions

1.        Who is the author? What is the author’s occupation, position, titles, education, experience, etc.? Is the author qualified (or not) to write on the subject?

2.        What is the purpose for writing the article or doing the research?

3.        To what audience is the author writing? Is it intended for the general public, scholars, policymakers, teachers, professionals, practitioners, etc.? Is this reflected in the author’s style of writing or presentation? How so?

4.        Does the author have a bias or make assumptions upon which the rationale of the publication or the research rests?

5.        What method of obtaining data or conducting research was employed by the author? Is the article (or book) based on personal opinion or experience, interviews, library research, questionnaires, laboratory experiments, case studies, standardized personality tests, etc.?

6.        At what conclusions does the author arrive?

7.        Does the author satisfactorily justify the conclusions from the research or experience? Why or why not?

8.        How does this study compare with similar studies? Is it in tune with or in opposition to the conventional wisdom, established scholarship, professional practice, government policy, etc.? Are there specific studies, writings, schools of thought, philosophies, etc. with which this one agrees or disagrees and of which one should be aware? Has the author acknowledged counterarguments? 

9.        Are there significant attachments or appendixes such as charts, maps, bibliographies, photos, documents, test, or questionnaires? If not, should there be?

Engeldinger, E. A. "Bibliographic Instruction and Critical Thinking: The Contribution of the Annotated Bibliography.” RQ 28:2 (1988):195-202.

After you’ve answered the questions, craft your answers into a block of text that flows well and allows the reader to assess the quality of the article or book you’ve read and discussed.

Earned Scholarly Advantage

The Earned Scholarly Average (ESA) and Virtual Earned Scholarly Average (VESA) are additional standards professors have used in the past to help students understand evaluation.