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“Annotated Bibliographies” provided by Lumen Learning

“How to Write a Summary” provided by Lumen Learning

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  • Describe an annotated bibliography.
  • Discuss what it takes to summarize source material.

Annotated Bibliographies

provided by Lumen Learning

Many professors ask you to write annotated bibliographies—bibliographic information about your primary sources and a short description of each—as preparation for writing a paper. Often, these bibliographies are no more than a page or two in length, but they are important because they force you to get your teeth into the source material and they give your professor the opportunity to comment on your use of sources and suggest some that you may have overlooked.

Style for Annotated Bibliographies

When you write an annotated bibliography for a course or in preparation for a thesis advisor, consider that the professionalism of the product is a direct reflection of the quality of the paper that will result. Therefore, be stylistically conscientious, following these tips:

  • Begin by listing complete bibliographic information (author, year, source name, publisher, etc.) just as you would on the References page at the end of a paper.
  • Provide a sentence or two describing the contents of the source.
  • Summarize the various relevant topic areas that the source discusses.
  • Avoid vague phrasing and empty sentences. Weed out any generic sentences such as “This source is very useful because it has tons of really good information.”
  • Use present tense and future tense verbs to facilitate the immediacy of the information and the actual future use of sources.
  • Discuss the exact way that you will use the source (e.g., for background information, data, graphics, as a bibliographic tool).
  • Carefully judge the value of the source, considering, for example, its level of detail, bias, or the timeliness of its data.
  • Note if the source’s text or bibliography will lead you to other sources.
  • Comment on anything that you find especially noteworthy about a source—is it controversial? definitive? political? new?
  • Format the annotated bibliography so that each description is clearly associated with the proper source.

How to Write a Summary

provided by Lumen Learning

Summarizing consists of two important skills:

  1. identifying the important material in the text, and
  2. restating the text in your own words.

Since writing a summary consists of omitting minor information, it will always be shorter than the original text.

Photograph of two hands writing next to each other, holding black pens and wearing white gloves

How to Write a Summary

  • A summary begins with an introductory sentence that states the text’s title, author and main thesis or subject.
  • A summary contains the main thesis (or main point of the text), restated in your own words.
  • A summary is written in your own words. It contains few or no quotes.
  • A summary is always shorter than the original text, often about 1/3 as long as the original.  It is the ultimate “fat-free” writing.  An article or paper may be summarized in a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs. A book may be summarized in an article or a short paper.  A very large book may be summarized in a smaller book.
  • A summary should contain all the major points of the original text, but should ignore most of the fine details, examples, illustrations or explanations.
  • The backbone of any summary is formed by critical information (key names, dates, places, ideas, events, words and numbers). A summary must never rely on vague generalities.
  • If you quote anything from the original text, even an unusual word or a catchy phrase, you need to put whatever you quote in quotation marks (“”).
  • A summary must contain only the ideas of the original textDo not insert any of your own opinions, interpretations, deductions or comments into a summary.
  • A summary, like any other writing, has to have a specific audience and purpose, and you must carefully write it to serve that audience and fulfill that specific purpose.

Important Concepts

annotated bibliographies

summarizing consists of two important skills

introductory sentence

summary must contain only the ideas of the original text




Video 1: MLA annotated bibliography & online sourcesAuthored by mistersato411. License: Standard YouTube License

Image 1: Image of two hands. Authored by: isado. Located at BY-ND: Attribution-NoDerivatives


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