How to Write an Annotation

How to Write an AnnotationIn the world of the so-called information society, the world whose inhabitants are merely eager to gather information, instead of evaluating it in a critical manner, it is very important to know how to communicate your knowledge, and also how to interpret the information you are given every single day. Human beings love making catalogues, classifying, and making distinctions. The skill to order information and to select the most important parts of it is the basis of science.

Annotation is usually related to describing the contents and the context of a given academic work - a book, an encyclopedia, a chapter or an article. Because it is far from easy for a researcher to read the whole book, in academic fields it is a basic rule to write abstracts, summaries and annotations. Whereas abstracts and summaries expose the information available in one’s own book/article in short, an annotation is concerned with one’s interpretation of someone else’s work. By assigning such a task, your instructor probably would like to check your abilities to present and evaluate information, and also to work with specialized academic literature.

The tips below will guide you through the process of writing an annotation. Please use them only as a starting point for your own assignment, and not as final authority.

How to write an annotation – 9 essential tips

1. Present the correct bibliographical data about the writing

This should be done according to a certain academic style of reference.

2. Present the author/s of the work

Write about the author’s field of interest, career, and achievements.

3. Manifest the main goal of the work, its main focus, area of research

Additionally you could write a little bit more about the given topic; for instance, the book/article may be a part of debate on the topic, or it has been written as a reply to another theorist.

4. Present the central thesis or theses of the work

Also, the main arguments that prove the central thesis or theses of the work should be presented. Advice: here you can check the abstract of the writing in question as see if you have grasped the intentions of the author/s correctly.

5. Critically assess the thesis and the arguments

Do you think the latter prove the thesis? Is there any clear connection between them? What about the inner coherence of the book/article? Here you can express your personal opinion, but not in an extreme way. Be objective, impartial and deal only with the logical part of the work.

6. Do not write in first person

This will be more appropriate when writing an essay. An annotation should objectively render the information presented in the book annotated by you.

7. Length of annotation

The length of your annotation depends on the instructions given by your teacher. You should ask them also about the main goal of your assignment: merely to present the information, or to assess it.

8. Consider a more in-depth research

In case that your instructor has allowed it, you can go in more details about the topic analyzed in the book/article. You can, for example, show the context of this particular piece of research. Are there any other books that, in your opinion, treat the problem with better argumentation? What is the future prospect of this research - what direction will it take?

9. Explain how you accessed the work

You may also explain how you got access to the given book, especially if it is an e-book, or an internet publication.

The art of writing annotations is more than simply presenting information or assessing it. It requires the ability to clarify and elucidate, so that the reader will easily understand what this book or article is about. In all cases, if you still are not sure how to write an annotation, you can find various samples and examine them as to improve your annotation writing skills.

Writing an annotation requires the ability to clarify and elucidate, so that the reader will easily understand what this book or article is about.
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