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The ultimate Ninja guide to a spotless annotated bibliography

How do I write an annotated bibliography? This question is finally answered in this comprehensive guide that covers all major citation styles. Also, you will learn when and how to use each style.

How to Write a Good Annotated Bibliography?

One of the biggest pain points and sources of confusion for academicians is the existence of so many different citation styles. It seems you would have an easier time becoming a Ninja than learning all of them properly, and figuring out when to use each one.

Using APA Citation Style

You should start putting together your bibliography in APA style by typing References, centered on a new page. The list of sources should be alphabetized according to the first letters of the author's last names. First and middle names are only given in the form of initials. In case the author or the work in question is not known, use the title of the book, but ignoring A, An, or The. As far as dates are concerned, you can use both the day-month-year, and the month-day-year styles, but whichever you choose, make sure to use it all throughout your bibliography in order to remain consistent.

When referencing book titles or article, you should use the same type of capitalization as you would use inside a sentence, meaning that only the first word of the title and subtitle should be capitalized. This, of course, doesn't apply to periodical titles and names which should be capitalized according to the grammar rules. Date of publication should be put into parentheses and placed right after the author's name. Name of the publication should be written using italics.

Example: Allen, T. (1974). Vanishing wildlife of North America. Washington, D. C.: National Geographic Society.

Using MLA Citation Style

In some aspects, MLA citation style is similar to APA. For instance, the list of works cited should start on a new page, with the title Works Cited centered. The list should be alphabetized according to the author's last name. In case the author is unknown, the entry should be alphabetized according to the title, excluding A, An, and The. As with APA, you can use both date formats, day-month-year, and month-day-year. Make sure to use the format consistently inside your bibliography.

MLA and APA styles differ when it comes to title case capitalization. According to MLA guidelines, you should capitalize both the first and the last word in the title, and all the principal words which are present. Also, in case your title features compound terms, you should capitalize the word that comes after the hyphen. Publisher's name should be abbreviated, if possible. The data for author, title, and publication should be separated with a period followed by a space. The titles of the publication in question should be written using italics (Ninja Writers, for example).

Example: Searles, Baird, and Martin Last. A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction. New York: Facts on File, Inc. , 1979.

Using Chicago Citation Style

If you are writing your bibliography using Chicago style, it should be placed at the end of the paper, and on a new page, which should be numbered. The alignment of the sources in your bibliography and the sources cited inside your paper need to be exact. The title of the page should be Bibliography, and centered on the page. Unlike the titles written in APA or MLA style, the title here should be written in plain text. When it comes to the order of the titles, the list should be alphabetized according to the authors' last names, while ignoring A, An, or The.

When it comes to the capitalization, you should capitalize all important words when using Chicago referencing style. This doesn't apply to conjunctions and articles, unless they are the first words of the title. As is the case with APA and MLA styles, the titles should be written using italics (Ninjas as opposed to Ninjas). Titles can also be written using quotation marks, but never using both quotation marks and italics. Dates are written using the month-date-year format.

Example: Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006), 99-100.

Using Harvard Citation Style

In the case of APA and MLA styles, you will be able to find all the information you need about each one in their respective style books. For Harvard citation style, there is no manual, seeing as Harvard style is used as a generic term to refer to any sort of referencing style that relies on in-text citation, as well as a list of references located at the end of the paper.

If you are referencing a book that has one author, you should include the author's last name, followed by their first name, as well year of publication, its title, edition (if case you are not referencing the first edition), place of publication, and the name of the publisher. In case there are multiple authors, you should separate their names using a comma followed by a blank space. You should always make sure to reference direct quotations using double inverted commas, but you can also use single inverted commas, which is the preferable choice for many. When it comes to paraphrasing, you should still provide a clear reference, because you are relying on someone else's work and ideas.

Example: Bryman, Alan. 2008. Social research methods. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Using Oxford Citation Style

Created at Oxford, this referencing style includes two different types of citation: footnote citations, and a reference list at the end of the paper. When putting footnotes together, you will need to create references. In order to do that, place a superscript number right after the portion of the source material which you have used. This is commonly known as the note identifier, or in-text citation. Once you have done that, you will need to create a footnote citation at the end of the page, which has the same number as the in-text citation. The order of both in-text citations and footnotes need to be numerical and chronological. Inside the reference list, which is located after the paper, you should write down the name of the author(s), the title of the source, and the date of publication, as well as the name of the publisher and place where the source was published. You should also list all of the resources that are present in the footnotes, as well as all the works which you have relied on when putting together your paper, but which you haven't quoted or paraphrased.

Footnote example: 1Stella Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Reference list example: Cottrell, Stella, The Study Skills Handbook (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Using Vancouver Citation Style

Vancouver referencing style consists of two components: in-text citations to various sources, which are marked by numbers, and a reference list which is located at the end of the paper, and which contains detailed information for each reference used inside the text. The order of references needs to match the order of in-text citations. The list needs to be put on a new page and titled 'References'. The difference between Oxford and Vancouver style is that, when using Vancouver style, you should only list references which you have cited inside the text of your paper.

When it comes to in-text citations, while some journals will write the citation number in superscript, a more appropriate way of writing them down would be to place them inside the parentheses, right after you have cited one of your sources. There are no strict rules about where you should place the in-text reference numbers, which means they can be placed on either side of the subsequent punctuation.

Example: Bick J. 101 Thing You Need to Know about Internet Law [Internet]. New York: Three Rivers Press; 2000 [cited 2004 Mar 30]. Available from:

Using CBE Citation Style

Council of Biology Editors, or CBE for short, is a referencing style guide designed to be used when writing biology papers, as well as other sciences. This particular styles based on Scientific Style and Format. You will also come across another more common abbreviation for it: CSE (Council of Science Editors). It features three different citation systems: 1) citation-sequence; 2) name-year; and 3) citation-name. These shortened citations are to be used as in-text citations, and to refer to the list of references which can be found at the end of each paper.

Depending on the system used, the order of references inside the reference list will be different. The references inside the list, on the other hand, are largely identical, apart from the location of the publication date in the name-year system. If neither system is specified, you should ask your professors about which system to use when writing academic papers.

In-text example: (McCormac and Kennedy 2004)

Reference list example: McCormac JS, Kennedy G. 2004. Birds of Ohio. Auburn (WA): Lone Pine. p. 77-78.

If you are still not sure how to use each style and when, you can always get in touch with Ninja Essays and we will help you out immediately. Before you know it, we will do it in no time, just like true Ninjas! Call us today!

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