A simple guide to structuring your annotations properly in an annotated bibliography

Sources are Important

The most underrated components of your essay are probably your sources. You may think that a source is just to skim through while you try to plan and organize your college essay. A source embodies all the knowledge that you may have regarding your topic. It is not advisable to treat it like it is nothing more than something that you go through, cite and refer to.

Active Reading vs. Reading like a Zombie…

You could do a lot better if you read through the source material in a way that puts it on the pedestal that it deserves. A very important point to keep under consideration can be the fact (that most overlook completely) that to write well, reading will never suffice. Instead, you have to acquaint yourself with a far more effective version of it known as “active reading”.

You are Not a Dumping Site for Information…

When you read passively, you are just sitting there letting the author dump the information upon you. This is the classic recipe for making any content boring in the most ultimate manner. Need to make sure that every interesting bit of info gets sapped out of your readings? Just let your eyes rove over the pages like a zombie.

The Problem with Attention and Interest…

If that is not at all what an essay writer wants but you can’t seem to understand why every reading assignment becomes your bane of existence. Or, more importantly, why is it that you feel like your mind conjures up all the random reasons to procrastinate on the reading? The culprit may just be the way that you sit there and let your eyes rove over the pages like a zombie.

Those of you who want to get rid of the sudden onset of extreme and uncontrollable symptoms of drowsiness wherever you go near the reference material that has been assigned to you, it is time to start engaging with what you read. As you read, pause and ask questions. Summarize what you have just read. Break it down in the form of points and ideas.

Pay Attention to What You Read…

Take notes (both mental and physical) and squeeze every last drop of facts from your readings. Now, this puts you in a position of power. You just need to make sure that you keep a record of all that you have absorbed about the subject matter.

Annotations to the Rescue!

This is where an annotation comes in. It can come in handy even before you have decided on a specific topic or title for your paper or essay. There is nothing more liberating than just reading and exploring the options for your essay’s title and structure because annotated bibliography can provide a road map, or a compass of sorts to give your writing a direction and a foundation. As you write one, you know where to start and what goals to set for yourself.

The Basic Structure of all Annotated Entries…

Annotations are paragraphs that span 100-150 words (mostly). These paragraphs contain a summary or paraphrasing of the information extracted from a particular source. After the summary, you are required to evaluate the source by discussing its pros and cons plus the reliability of this source. In the end, you analyze the material with reference to its utility for your particular essay or paper.

The material you read can help you be clearer about the goals of your paper or essay. This connection that you have established between what you read and what you want to write is something that you need to present in detail in the last part of your annotation.

Each source has to be annotated separately. The list looks exactly like your list of references except that each entry is followed by an explanation of information attained within it, the way that this narrative is analyzed in terms of its veracity, and the reason that you think it can be helpful for your content.

Annotations make the sources become interesting and help you retain information within one paragraph for each source so that you can always refresh what you have read by looking at a few passages.

Some Considerations…

These entries must not be too long. The reason is that they need to only offer highlights that can make the source comprehensible and relatable. You should not make them into essays of their own, otherwise, you will end up making your head spin every time you try to read (which was hardly the point).

Remember: Your professor may ask you to include or discard any of the basic components of the annotations. You may be required to just paraphrase or refrain from offering a critique. Pay close attention to these specific prompts.

If you can’t seem to be able to make friends out of your reading material, you need to do something about it sooner than later. Otherwise, this content will give you undue anxiety all through your student and professional life whenever you need to put coherent research on paper.

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