Annotated Bibliography Assignment

UPDATE: I’ve posted 2 sample annotations here.


Photo of notecards layed outThroughout the second half of the semester, you’ll research a topic of your choice related to digital rhetoric for your final multimodal persuasive project. To keep track of that research and share your progress with me, you’ll add items to an annotated bibliography organized in the free program Evernote. We’ll use Evernote both for its functionality (because it’s useful) and to critically analyze it (to ask how it changes the nature of 21st-century communication).

Don’t let the name annotated bibliography scare you. A bibliography is just a list of sources, usually following some formal standard (like MLA or APA). Annotated means “with notes added to it.” (A book that I’ve scribbled in has been “annotated.”) So an annotated bibliography is a certain kind of bibliography, a certain kind of list of sources, one that has lots of notes added to each entry in the bibliography.

Though annotated bibliographies are made differently by different people, entries in them often include a formal citation, a summary of the source, and an evaluation of the source. Their purpose is always to help others understand sources without their having to take the time to read them. So while writing this annotated bibliography, imagine yourself addressing someone who is trying to decide if these sources are useful for them or not.


Over the course of three and a half weeks, write annotations for twelve sources that would be appropriate to use as sources for your academic essay. (When you’re writing about new technologies, a small number of news and magazine stories are appropriate.) At least five must be articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, and at least one must be a book.

Each annotation must include the following 3 elements:

  1. A formal citation of the source in MLA or APA format (up to you)
  2. A paragraph or section summarizing the source in detail
  3. A second paragraph or section evaluating the source in detail. Your evaluation might include a mini rhetorical analysis of the strategies used by the author, notes on the general strengths and weaknesses of the source, your thoughts on how credible the source is, your prediction of how helpful it will be for your final project (and why), or anything else that occurs to you to comment on.

Write each annotation as a separate note in Evernote. (So when the final annotation is due, you’ll have twelve separate notes.) To share these annotations with me, simply write then in an Evernote folder that you have shared with me. (If you miss class on October 21, you’ll need to get notes from someone in class to show you how to share a folder with me.) Once the note is in a shared folder, I can automatically read it.

I also encourage you to add useful tags to each note, but that’s not a requirement. (Here’s how.)


deeveepix - evernote-iphoneI’ll grade your annotations based on the correctness of your citations (i.e. how exactly it follows MLA or APA format) and the evidence that you put effort into writing a complete summary and a detailed evaluation.

You’ll receive two grades on your annotated bibliography:

  • Check-in: Before class begins on Friday, November 1, have at least four entries completed in your shared Evernote folder. Be as careful with these as possible, so I can give you advice on what you most need to work on before the final check. I’ll give you a 13/20, 17/20, or 20/20 based on how much effort it seems you put into doing those four notes well in all 3 categories (citation, summary, evaluation).
  • Final Check: Before class begins on Friday, November 15, have all twelve entries completed in your shared Evernote folder. (I’ll go get them there; you don’t need to submit anything else.) This grade will count as 10% of your final course grade, so I’ll be more formal with my grading: you’ll get a score for your citations, summaries, and evaluations, and your final score will be the average of these three.


  • Consider setting up a personal schedule for when you will write about longer or shorter sources. For instance, since you’ll have to include one book as a source, it would make sense to identify it early on, read it over a couple of weeks, and then write one of your last annotations on that book. You might want to write about shorter news stories early on and academic articles in the middle, too. It’s up to you.
    • Remember that you can get any book or article that exists through an inter-library loan. It’s free and easy: fill out the form here.
  • Twitter is a great place to find up-to-date information to respond to in an annotation. As you start to imagine what your final project topic will be, I encourage you to search out new Twitter feeds relating to it.
  • If someone else in class is working on a similar topic, feel free to share sources. Your annotations must be written by you, but you can collaborate to find sources if you like.
  • Any reading from the Social Media Reader that we didn’t read as a class is fair game for an annotation. (For the final project, you may use any sources we read throughout the semester, but it wouldn’t make sense to annotate those for this assignment.)

Images: Christmas w/a K, “External Memory – Analog saved me” and deeveepix, “evernote/iphone


Welcome to my sections of RHET 351, “Rhetoric of/in Digital Spaces.”

This site is the home base for all three sections, the place where you’ll find our detailed course schedule, the syllabus, and all the details for your assignments. It’s public, meaning that anything I post here could potentially be seen by anyone on Earth. And because this is a public site, we’ll also occasionally use our private Moodle site for things that should be kept private. (See the syllabus section “Understanding Our Course Websites” for more.)

One thing you’ll notice quickly as you explore this site is that this main column on the home page will include very different sorts of information at different times. This column is organized in reverse chronological order, with the newest stuff on top, regardless of whether it’s a blog post from me or a formal assignment.

But sometimes, getting information through other organizational schemes makes more sense. If you can’t find something here, try one of these:

  1. Go to the Schedule page by clicking Schedule at the top of any page on this blog. From there, you’ll see an ordered, chronological schedule of everything we’re doing in class (as opposed to the reverse chronological order of this home page). Think of the Schedule page as the table of contents for the course.
  2. You can also use the list of “Categories of Posts” in the right column to see only certain kinds of posts. For instance, this post is filed under the category “Instructor Blog,” but major assignments will use the “Major Assignment” category, and so on.

To help you understand what you’re getting into, I made a 5-minute video with a very quick introduction to the course:

I’m looking forward to the semester!