Creating an Annotated Bibliography By: Amy Ramirez

You were given an assignment to create your own annotated bibliography that goes along with an argumentative essay. Where do you begin? I am sure in most cases, you'll feel like Michael here:

But not to worry. I am going to try to help you break down the process and make the process easier than it seems at first glance.

First things first, you need to figure out what exactly it is you are arguing in your essay. It is easy to begin with something you are passionate about. For example, my essay's focal argument was: Incoming freshman that learn a foreign language will be more successful in creating positive relationships. Sometimes you may find it easier to start in the opposing argument's state of mind to create your main argument. For example, my opposing statement would be: Attempting to learn a foreign language can constrict an incoming freshman through unnecessary and ill taught courses.

Once you figure out what it is you are going to argue, you must find scholarly articles-- ones that have been peer reviewed. Read these thoroughly-- do not just choose phrases that can fit into your writing. These articles make it easier to find evidence to back up your argument, thus making your essay stronger and convincing to your readers.

For the purpose of this demonstration of creating the annotated bibliography, I will provide two articles-- one for my first argument and another for the opposing argument. The first article, by Liz Reisberg, is going to be my evidence for my original argument and the second article, by Robert Bley-Vroman, is going to be used for the opposing argument. I will be including these as examples as I give the basic breakdown of an annotated bib.

The three main steps of writing an annotated bibliography:

  1. Summarize: Explain what the author discusses in the article you are using. Mention the main argument and key points of their argument. Show the audience the background information of the article you choose.
  2. Analyze: Now that you gave the background knowledge of the article you chose, you must explain why their argument is important and what their rhetorical writing does to enhance their argument.
  3. Reflect: Describe why their argument fits and provides further evidence for your overall argument. How does it work with your essay?

** Keep in mind that these are short paragraphs and each section requires 2-3 sentences each.**

**Hope you're writing some of this down or something! :P**

Lets try to piece things together-- here is an example, piece by piece with the article I used by Liz Reisberg for my argument that incoming freshman that learn a foreign language will be more successful in creating positive relationships.


It is important that you always begin the summary with "In this journal article (or any source you have), _________(name of author) argues..." Again, focus on the major argument and key points. No need to analyze just yet, just set up the background info for your readers. Try showing your summary to someone who has never seen your source and see if it makes sense, then adjust accordingly.


Summary section is highlighted in green and analysis in blue for easy distinction

With the background knowledge set in place, analyze the rhetorical writing in the source. Dig deep and gain an understanding that you can argue with evidence. When showing someone else your analysis, it should answer the "so what?" question. Evidence= strong argument!


The reflection section in example is highlighted in purple

With the analysis set in place, explain why this argument and it's evidence helps convince the readers of your argument. What are the connection? Tie it all together!

You did it! By following those steps, your annotated bibliography is now complete :D

Here is an extra example for my opposing argument with the author Robert Bley-Vroman. It has the same basic outline but arguing that attempting to learn a foreign language can constrict an incoming freshman through unnecessary and ill taught courses.

So I really hope this helped breakdown the process and made it easier than it looks. So you no longer will look like this when you need to make another annotated bibliography:

But rather, like this when you can finish it with ease:

Created By
Amy Ramirez


Created with images by TeroVesalainen - "question mark why problem" • LeoNeoBoy - "puzzle mosaic secret"

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