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History Seminar Research Paper Guide: Annotated Works Cited

Annotating your sources

Annotated Works Cited

Annotated works cited sections require critical research and evaluation skills. 

Annotations frequently include brief, two-sentence summaries. The following guidelines apply to materials in all formats--books, magazine articles, Web sites, and reference materials, etc.

Check with your teacher to see which of the following elements you should include in your annotations:

  • Author's credentials
  • Intended audience
  • Scope and purpose of the work: Is it an overview, persuasive, editorial?
  • Comparison of the work with others dealing with the same topic or others in your Works Cited list
  • Summary of contents
  • Evaluation of research: Is the work logical, clear, well-researched?
  • Evaluation of author bias
  • Relative value of the work to the thesis or question

Example of an evaluative annotation:

Katz, Jon. "The Rights of Kids in the Digital Age." Wired July 1996: 120+. Print.

Katz, contributing editor of Wired and the author of Geeks, presents a compelling argument for safeguarding the rights of children online. The article is aimed at a general, but computer-savvy, audience. Katz offers a far more liberal perspective than recent pieces in such major news journals as Newsweek, which warned the public of the dangers children face in electronic environments. Katz advocates the idea of preparing the "responsible child" and outlines the rights of such a child. He claims that our new "digital nation" requires a social contract similar to the one proposed by philosopher John Locke and adopted by the founders of our own country to protect the rights of all citizens. This comprehensive, distinctive, liberal view added needed balance to my project.

Alternate questions for annotations:

  • How (How did you find this information? Which database or search tool did you use?)
  • Who (Who is the author and why should you trust him/her?)
  • Why (Why is this particular document truly relevant to your thesis/question/research?)

Annotating vs. note-taking

Annotating is different than note-taking.  Note-taking creates a brief record of someone else's ideas. Annotating text while you read will:

 gather notes and your own ideas alongside the original text. 
 allow you to question, to challenge, and to add to the knowledge the author shares. 
 help you to quickly review and recall what you have read.

Annotation defined

an·no·ta·tion n. 
1. The act or process of furnishing critical commentary or explanatory notes.
2. A critical or explanatory note; a commentary.

What to note...

What types of things should you note, when reading? Consider:

Create a vocabulary list at the front or back of your text that includes new terminology, interesting concept words, etc.

Direct quotes can be underlined within your own text or recorded on stickies or index cards.

Write brief summaries or a paraphrase of information found. In your own copy, you can place this at the beginning or end of each chapter or section. If the resource is not yours, keep this information in a notebook or on a notecard.

Your own ideas about the text (expanded information or questions). In your own copy, you can write these in the margins of the page, near the referenced passage. If the copy belongs to someone else, use stickies or index cards placed bookmark fashion between the appropriate pages.

When you read longer texts, keep a list of key information with page references. On your own copy, this might be recorded the inside cover of the book, or perhaps on the back page of a scholarly article. If the resource is not your own, keep this information in a notebook or on a notecard.

Guide to Annotation

A simple text guide to annotation can be found here