APA Annotated Bibliography Format

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Published October 26, 2020. Updated August 29, 2021.

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The American Psychological Association states that your instructor should set the guidelines for your annotated bibliography, but does ask that the list be formatted according to their standard reference page rules (see Section 9.51 of the Publication Manual). Since there are no set rules for creating one, you may be wondering how to create an annotated APA bibliography. If your teacher or professor requests one, don’t worry, here are our recommendations: 

  • Make sure you create your references according to APA’s guidelines. If you need some help, here’s a great APA citation website, which shows how to create references for electronic sources. We also have a page on developing a reference for an APA journal. Need other source types? Check out the other helpful pages on EasyBib.com. 
  • Annotations should be kept short and are usually not more than one paragraph. 
  • For more information on writing an annotation, visit the general annotated bibliography guide. 

Quick APA formatting guidelines: 

  • Use 1-inch page margins on all sides.  
  • The entire page should be double-spaced. 
  • Title your page, “Annotated Bibliography. Center and bold it. 
  • Left-align references. If a reference runs over more than one line, any line(s) that comes after the first should be indented a ½ inch from the left margin. 
  • Organize your references alphabetically by the first word in the reference. (See further details in this APA Reference Page guide). 
  • Add the annotations on the line right after their corresponding reference. 
  • Indent annotations ½ inch from the left margin.  
  • Include a page number in the upper right corner; if this is a professional paper, it should be a running head. 

For an annotated bibliography APA example, we’re using the same description as above. The only thing we’re going to change is the structure of the reference. For an APA bibliography, the reference needs to be an APA citation, and the description can be formed the same way as above. 

Annotation example 

Here’s what the APA book citation for The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase looks like: 

Forsyth, M. (2014). The elements of eloquence: Secrets of the perfect turn of phrase. Penguin Books. 

The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks, and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to modern day. The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects. 

Visual example 

Here is a visual annotated bibliography example APA using the entry above: 

Using the EasyBib annotation tool 

The EasyBib citation generator has an annotation tool that can help you easily add your annotation to a citation.  

  1. To do this, begin creating a citation in the EasyBib citation generator. Already have a citation on EasyBib.com?  Go to the citation, open your citation options and select “Edit citation.” 
  2. Once you get to the citation form (where you review found information), scroll to the bottom until you see the sections “More options.”  
  3. Under that section, click on the “Add annotation” link to open the annotation box.  
  4. Copy and paste your annotation into the box. 
  5. Complete your citation. 
  6. Your annotation will automatically be included and formatted with your citation. You can copy and paste directly into your paper! 

Annotated bibliography tool

Again, even though the APA style does not support the creation of bibliographies that include annotations, many schools and professors expect their students to include summaries or commentary alongside their citations in APA style. 


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How do I create an annotated APA bibliography?

To create an annotated APA bibliography, follow the below recommendations:

  • Order your reference entries in alphabetical order similar to how you would order entries in the reference list.
  • If you want to add an annotation to an entry, add it as a new paragraph below the reference entry. The entire annotation is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

For example:

Lim, L. (2014). Ideology, rationality and reproduction in education: A critical discourse analysis. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 35(1), 61–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2012.739467
Lim focuses on issues of power and ideology dominant in curricular discourses of rationality to study a discourse analysis of the goals of one of the most important curricula in the teaching of thinking. He proves that political and class commitments are reproduced in the forms of thinking that are valued in societies. Through his research, Lim asserts that such curricula engage in creating our understanding of what thinking and rationality are.

How do I format an annotated bibliography in APA?

To format an annotated bibliography in APA, follow the recommendations given below:

  • Set the left, right, top, and bottom margins as 1 inch.
  • Use double-line spacing.
  • Title the page “Annotated Bibliography.” Set it in bold.
  • The title should be aligned to the center of the page.
  • As you format reference entries, left-align all references in the annotated bibliography section. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent lines 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • Arrange all reference entries alphabetically according to the surname of the authors.
  • Provide your annotations below the reference entry for which you want to give your annotation. Indent annotations 0.5 inches from the left margin.