How to Make Annotations in a Research Paper

Annotations in research papers used to be called footnotes or endnotes. They are the sources quoted in the research paper. The annotations are now listed in the annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography differs from the regular bibliography or works cited page because, in addition to the basic reference information, the author includes an evaluative and descriptive statement about the source.

Clarify what style you are writing in. The three main styles for research papers are MLA, APA and Chicago. If your teacher has not specified a style, ask.

Research the particular style (see Resources). Find out how to list the basic information from each source you used; websites, books and articles all have slightly different formats. Find out how to cite the source in the text of the paper as well.

Write the paper. Either directly refer to the source text in your writing, or put the author and page number in parentheses after the quote or paraphrasing.

Review your sources. Look over each source you used and write at least one sentence about it on a card. You can write up to paragraph describing the source and evaluating its usefulness.

Organize your information. Sort the cards by type of source (articles, books, websites). Then alphabetize each type.

Use your index cards to type your annotated bibliography.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article


  • Annotated bibliographies are meant to be used by others to help them find research, so tailor your writing accordingly.


  • Give yourself extra time to complete the annotations.

Things Needed

  • Class information
  • Index card--one per source
  • Pen
  • Sources used for paper

About the Author

Jennifer Zimmerman is a former preschool and elementary teacher who has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written numerous articles for The Bump, Band Back Together, Prefab and other websites, and has edited scripts and reports for DWJ Television and Inversion Productions. She is a graduate of Boston University and Lewis and Clark College.