The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
The Writer's Handbook
Annotated Bibliography

Which writing style should I use in the annotations?

The most important thing to understand is that entries should be brief.

Only directly significant details will be mentioned and any information apparent in the title can be omitted from the annotation.

In addition, background materials and references to previous work by the same author usually are not included.

Listed below are three writing styles used in annotated bibliographies. Click on a link to see examples of each.

Telegraphic

(phrases, non-sentences)

Get the information out, quickly and concisely. Be clear, but complete and grammatically correct sentences are unnecessary.

Example

Telegraphic (phrases, non-sentences)

Vowles, Richard B.  (1962).  Psychology and drama:
     A selected checklist.  Wisconsin Studies in
     Contemporary Literature, 3,(1), 35-48.

Divided by individual authors.  Reviews the research
between 1920 and 1961.

(Bell and Gallup, 1971, p. 68)

Complete sentences

In this style you must always use complete sentences.

The length of the sentences varies. Subjects and conjunctions are not eliminated even though the tone may be terse. Avoid long and complex sentences.

Example

Complete sentences

Kinter, W. R., and R L. Pfaltzgraff.  (1972).  Assessing
     the Moscow SALT agreements.  Orbis, 16, 34l-360.

The authors hold the conservative view that SALT can not
halt the slipping nuclear advantage of the United States.
They conclude that the United States needs a national
reassessment of defense policy. They further conclude that
the only utility of SALT is in developing a dialogue with
the Soviets.  This is a good conservative critique of
SALT I.

(Strenski and Manfred, 1981, p. 165)

Paragraph

When using this form of annotation, you must write a full, coherent paragraph.

Sometimes this can be similar to the form of a bibliographic essay. It goes without saying that you need to use complete sentences.

Example

Paragraph (a little more formal)

Voeltz, L.M.  (1980).  Children's attitudes toward
     handicapped peers.  American Journal of Mental
     Deficiency, 84, 455-464.

As services for severely handicapped children become 
increasingly available within neighborhood public schools, 
children's attitudes toward handicapped peers in integrated 
settings warrant attention.  Factor analysis of attitude
survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors
underlying attitudes toward handicapped peers: social-
contact willingness, deviance consequation, and two actual
contact dimensions.  Upper elementary-age children, girls,
and children in schools with most contact with severely
handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes.
Results of this study suggest the modifiability of
children's attitudes and the need to develop interventions
to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences
in integrated school settings.

(Sternlicht and Windholz, 1984, p. 79)