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How to Write an Annotated Outline & Bibliography


Writing an annotated bibliography and outline gives you a solid start on a research paper because it forces you to jumpstart the research process. When writing an annotated bibliography and outline, you'll have the chance to examine several sources and evaluate each one to choose acceptable sources for the research paper. Additionally, constructing an annotated outline helps you structure the paper and decide what to include, making composition a much smoother process.

Annotated Bibliography

Decide on a citation method. Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association are the two most common styles of citations. Often instructors specify which should be used.

Cite each source separately. Follow the requirements for the chosen style when citing sources. Each type of source requires different pieces of information, but all typically include author names, titles and page numbers.

Place the citations in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. Arrange the citation by title if there is no author.

Hang-indent each citation. In hanging indentation, the first line of a citation is aligned at the left margin and other lines are indented five spaces.

Read through the sources. Consider how each relates to the research paper topic. Think about what information you will use and why it is important to the essay.

Write a couple of paragraphs about each source. One paragraph may suffice, or more may be needed. Describe the source material and mention how it relates to the paper that you plan to write. Demonstrate a source’s relevance to the topic.

Arrange each annotation under the citation that it goes with.

Annotated Outline

Make a specific outline for the research paper with three to five main subject headings.

Number each heading. Consult with your instructor on how this should be done. Some may want Roman numerals, for example.

Write a brief paragraph about each heading. It should discuss the main purpose of each section of the paper and summarize what the paper will discuss.

Follow each heading as if you are writing the paper. The annotations should follow a logical order, and the information in them should move the paper forward.

Place the annotated outline on a separate page from the annotated bibliography.

About the Author

Erica Sweeney is a freelance writer and editor based in Little Rock, Ark. She has a master's in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her work has been published at SaidIt.org, Arkansas Times, Aging Arkansas and Arkansas Business.

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