Writing an Annotated Bibliography in APA (6th ed.)

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

  • An annotated bibliography is a critical part of the research process. It includes a citation of the sources you’ve consulted on a particular topic, then provides a brief analytical description, or “annotation”, of each source.
  • Your annotated bibliography should demonstrate that you can describe and analyze the content of a source in your own words. Annotated bibliographies are excellent opportunities for you to test your understanding. When annotating children’s literature, annotated bibliographies give readers a sense of the textual content (plot, point of view), illustration style and storytelling methods utilized in the book.

Wait, Wait… Tell Me More About the “Annotation” Part!

Writing an effective annotation of children’s literature means you have:

  • Succinctly summarized what a source is about in your own words (who the authors are, what occurs in the story, the narrative point of view)
  • Evaluated the source (Who is narrating the story? Who is the ideal audience/reader level for this story? What sorts of questions would this story broach in the classroom? What sorts of literary or plot techniques are utilized in telling the story?). Other important aspects to keep an eye out for are the source’s publication date, whether the book has received awards or other recognitions, and how this book compares or differs from others in your bibliography.
  • Briefly reflected on how or how this source is useful for your research and interest in this topic.

Okay… So APA Formatting. Help!

Annotations can vary in length, from a few sentences to several pages long. In most of your Bank Street coursework, an acceptable annotation will be between 150-250 words.

An APA (6th ed) style annotated bibliography has two parts: 1) a citation of the work in proper APA (6th ed) format and 2) the annotation itself.

  • Citations follow standard APA guidelines as you would in your reference list. Since there is no formal APA standard for citing illustrated books, it is acceptable to cite the author, but be sure to credit the illustrator in your annotation. If the illustrator is essential to the way the story is told (as in a graphic novel or picture book), it is also acceptable to cite the illustrator as the second author. In Goodnight Moon, for example, you have the option of citing illustrator Clement Hurd as the second author. That citation would look like this:

Brown, M.W., & Hurd, C. (2007). Goodnight moon. New York, NY: Harper Collins. (Originally published in 1947)

  • The annotation for a source will follow on the next line after the citation, with each paragraph indented. Double-space throughout your bibliography; there is no need for extra spaces between the citation and your annotation.
  • Though most short annotations can flow one after the other, consider breaking your annotations into sections if your bibliography is extensive and covers a vast and differing amount of sources.

Example: Illustrated Children’s Book

Bunting, E., & Lewin, T. (2006). One green apple. New York, NY: Clarion Books.

Farah is a young immigrant who cannot speak the English language. She feels alone and

isolated from the rest of the students . Today, her class is going to an orchard to pick

apples. She chooses a green apple, which is different from the other kids’ red apples, just

like her. They make apple cider where all of the students’ apples blend together. This is

the first time Farah feels like she fits in with the other kids, and she learns her very first

English word “app-ell.” The illustrations are realistic with a lot of detail and color. Lewin

accentuates the shadows and highlights in the pictures. This book won the 2006 Arab

American Book Award. Reading level: K-3.

Annotation modified from:
Lelii, M. (2011, November 28). Annotated bibliography for children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://marissalelii.tumblr.com/


Be sure to check with instructors for specific style requirements. For additional guidance, contact reference librarians Peter Hare or Grace Abanavas, call us at 212-875-4456, or come by the Reference Desk in the library. Happy writing!

Further Reading

Hare, P. C. (2016, January 11). Illustrators and APA [Blog post] Retrieved from https://bankstreetlibrary.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/illustrators-apa/

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2013). Annotated bibliographies. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01

Write Annotated Bibliographies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bankstreet.edu/library/how-can-i/write-annotated-bibliographies/


Many thanks to Rebecca Nieto for creating the content of this blog post.

Reference librarian at Bank Street College Library.

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