Difference Between Citation & Annotated Bibliographies

In an academic paper or essay, you typically use outside sources for information and research. Cite these sources within the paper to avoid plagiarism. Also, include a page at the end of the document listing the sources you used as a further reference for the reader. While both citations and annotated bibliographies perform this role, they are different.

Citations are typically in APA, MLA or Chicago style format.

Although both citations and annotated bibliographies list sources used in a paper, they can come at different points. A citation may refer to an in-text citation -- a quick note you insert when you quote, summarize or paraphrase third-party information. For example, in-text citations typically include the last name of the author and the year of publication but may also include a page number when applicable.

Citation Format
An annotated bibliography includes an annotation after the citation in a reference page.

Format a citation at the end of an essay in a reference page in the same manner as you would for an annotated bibliography. The style you choose will determine which information you include and how to format it, but in all cases, italicize the title of books. For example, American Psychological Association style for a citation would be -- Smith, A. (2008). Title of book. New York: Publisher; Modern Language Association style would be -- Smith, Anna. Title of Book. New York: Publisher, 2008. Print; and Chicago style would be -- Smith, Anna. Title of Book. New York: Publisher, 2008.

Page Format
An annotation often critiques a source rather than simply summarizing it.

The format of the overall page also differs. The reference page includes only citations, while the annotated bibliography includes a summary and critique of each source in paragraph form, which comes directly after the citation to which it relates. An annotated bibliography is much longer than a reference page because of the added information, but double-space both and alphabetize them according to the last name of the author.


Always use citations and reference pages when you are writing a paper that includes third-party information or any type of research. Use the annotated bibliography only if the assignment calls for it or if you want to prove that you have thoroughly read and understand your sources. The annotated bibliography is often used in longer academic papers. It can be helpful when you are writing an essay to assist you in understanding your sources.

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