COM 122
Writing and Research
Home Page >> Information Sheets >> Source Annotation Information Sheet

Source Annotations:

Annotation is the simple act of summarizing a source very simply, yet critically. Annotation is usually used in conjunction with a bibliography to produce an annotated bibliography. An author will create their bibliography, but then also add a short statement that both summarizes the source's main ideas and also indicates the general usefulness of the source. A typical annotation would be something like this:

Kaplan, Lawrence F. "Yesterday's Man." The New Republic 1 &8 Jan. 2001: 17-21.
Kaplan argues that Colin Powell, while being named George W. Bush's Secretary of State because of his high reputation, actually has held foreign policy views very different from what people think. This article is written from a very liberal perspective, but backs its claims up with impressive facts and figures. This is a very solid counterpoint to the typical hero-worship profile of Powell in the mainstream media.

Or

Robinson, Edward. "The Shareholder from Hell." Business 2.0 9 Jan. 2001: 72-81.
Robinson details how FinancialWeb.com is a dot.com company that owes its failure not to a poor business plan, but rather where its investors got their money from. In a very detailed article, Robinson shows how mob money was laundered through the company, and how its stock price was illegally manipulated in a very complicated set of maneuvers. Robinson puts much effort into a not entirely convincing argument that the company officers were unaware of the "funny money" or stock market manipulation and are victims just like the non-insider investors in the company. This article gives a different perspective to anyone investigating organized crime or dot.com failures.

Notice that these annotations are not complete summaries, but they are also more than just a simple sentence summary. There is an element of analysis/criticism involved. However, an annotation is also not as involved or detailed in its criticism as a full critique.

The real key to an annotation is that it should be relatively SHORT, but also clear as to the VALUE of the source. You are trying to show somebody looking at your bibliography whether this was a useful source for you or not, and whether or not they should track this source down as well. (Remember that a bibliography is NOT the same thing as a Works Cited or References page. A bibliography is a list of everything that you've found. There should be both useful and non-useful sources listed in a bibliography). Many researchers regularly use an annotation on their source notecards.

For this class, you will NOT have to compile a complete annotated bibliography, as there simply isn't time and its usefulness is limited. However, the process of evaluating and annotating a source is very helpful, and you will be expected to annotate at least 5 sources during the course of your research in this class.

You may want to check out the weblog for this course for an idea of how to proceed. The instructor keeps this weblog very irregularly, as he finds information dealing with student paper topics and has time to update it.

This online form will allow you to submit your annotation by email, or you can submit them in hardcopy.