Annotated bibliography




Title of Paper

Your Name

Course Number and Title (e.g. ENG201: Disciplinary Composition)

Instructor (use the preference of the instructor, e.g. Professor Colleen Karn or Dr. Lori Wagner)

Date (e.g. 23 September 2020)

Full Title of Your Paper

An introductory paragraph prepares your audience to read the rest of your paper. What do you need to tell them? Give a brief description of your topic. Do not go into specific details, save those for body paragraphs. Also, your introduction needs to contain your thesis statement, which is the main idea or purpose of your paper stated in one sentence. Do not list all of your points or subtopics in your thesis statement—find a way to encompass all of your points in a succinct manner. Do not narrate your paper with thesis statements such as, “This paper will demonstrate the need for healthier school lunches.” Instead, simply state your position, “Public schools need to provide healthier lunches.” Notice the heading of this paragraph is the title of the paper and it is in bold. Do not use the word, “Introduction” as a heading for this paragraph.

First Main Section of the Paper

Use the instructor’s instructions and/or rubric to determine how you will organize the content of the paper. Use Level 1 headings (centered, bold, with all main words capitalized) for the main sections of the paper. For example, you are writing about personal health. In the instructions the three areas of personal health about which you are required to write are physical health, mental health, and social health. You would use those areas as the main sections of your paper. You could even use those exact terms as the Level 1 headings. Since the instructions listed physical health first, you should make that the first main section of your paper.

Subsection of the First Main Section

If a main section of your paper has more than one aspect or subsection about which you will write, then break the main section into subsection. For example, physical health has multiple aspects to it, such as nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Therefore, you would want to include subsections for those aspects. For our example, this subsection would be about nutrition.

Each subsection begins with a Level 2 heading which flush left, in bold, and has all of the main words capitalized. If you wish to use subsections, you must have at least two for that main section. In other words, if you want to use Level 2 headings, you must have at least two under the Level 1 heading you are subdividing. The same goes for Level 3 headings; there must be at least two Level 3 headings under the Level 2 heading you are subdividing.

Another Subsection of the First Main Section

This would be another subsection of the first main section. Going back to our example, this subsection would be about exercise. In addition to organizing your paper, you often need to include source material as support. There are three ways to include source material: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. According to Rochowiak (2016), when quoting a source, “you put quotation marks around the direct quote and include the needed publication information: author, date, and page number. The author’s last name and date can go in the signal pharase, and the page number can go in the parenthetical citation” (p. 23). “Another way to handle the publication information for a quote is to put all of the information in the parenthetical citation” (Rochowiak, 2016, p. 24). When writing in APA style, you should be purposeful with your use of direct quotes and limit your use of them. Paraphrasing source material is preferred because you are restating a larger quantity of information into a more condensed form in your own words which often is more easily synthesized into your paper. Timothy McAdoo (2009) explains when to directly quote instead of paraphrase:

A direct quote can be much more powerful. Maybe the original author is preeminent in the field, thus his or her quote lends instant gravitas to your argument. Maybe he or she coined a phrase that’s now ubiquitous in the research, and you’re quoting the earliest original use. Or maybe the original author just captured an idea so clearly and succinctly that you want to share the exact wording with your readers. Consider the impact you want the quote to have on your reader. (Be Purposeful section, para. 2)

Long quotes of 40 or more words need to be in block formatting, as the one above from McAdoo. Block formatting is indented .5 of an inch (one tab or increase indent), is not in quotation marks, and has the end punctuation at the end of the last sentence and not after the parenthetical citation. Additionally, if the signal phrase does not flow naturally with the quote, as above, use a colon after it, but, if the signal phrase does flow naturally with the quote, use a comma after it.

When included paraphrased or summarized source material, do not put quotation marks around it. It is up to the author of the paper to make it perfectly clear to the audience what material in the paper belongs to the author and what belongs to outside sources. Rochowiak (2016) explains, paraphrased and summarized material does not have quotation marks around it to indicate where it begins and ends, so the easiest way to clearly identify the beginning and end is with a signal phrase at the beginning and a parenthetical citation at the end (p. 25). Additionally, it is not required to provide a page number for paraphrased and summarized source material, but APA prefers you include it. Besides, it gives you something to put in the parenthetical citation at the end.

Second Main Section of the Paper

This section is about the second main aspect/idea/topic of the paper. For our example, this second main section would be about mental health. It might be subdivided into subsections, with Level 2 headings.


The last paragraph of the paper is always the conclusion. You can either label or not label your conclusion. If you wish to label it, use a Level 1 Heading with the word “Conclusion” as this paragraph has. It will be assumed that the last paragraph of your paper is your conclusion whether you label it “Conclusion” or not. Your conclusion should briefly tie your main points back to your thesis statement. It should connect the dots for the audience. Additionally, you should give some new insight, instruction, appeal, or information that your audience could not have understood or fully appreciated before they read your paper.


American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.

Brown, S. J. (2009). Evidence-based nursing: The research-practice connection. Jones and Bartlett.

McAdoo, T. (2009, December 17). You can quote me on this. APA Style Blog.

Rochowiak, C. (2016). Citing sources in your text using A.P.A. format. College Writing Review 219(7), 22-25.

The list of references begins on a new page after the last page of your paper. The title “References” needs to be on the first line of the page and centered. The reference list continues the pagination of the paper. The spacing (double) and font (Times New Roman 12pt.) is the same as the rest of the paper; do not change it. Reference entries are listed in alphabetical order by the first word in the entry (unless it is “a,” “an,” or “the”). The first line of each entry is flush left, and all additional lines of the entry are indented one-half inch (one tab). The easiest way to indent the additional lines is by using the hanging indent function. Select (highlight) all of the reference entries. Go to either the “Paragraph” box in the toolbar or “Page Layout” > “Paragraph.” In the lower right corner of “Paragraph” is an arrow; click on the arrow to open the drop box. Then under “Indentation” open the drop box under “Special” and select “Hanging.” The hanging indent function will properly format your reference entries.