Creating an Annotated Bibliography: Quick & Easy

A common question is how to use RefWorks to create an annotated bibliography.  This post describes a simple way to create one.  While this approach has some drawbacks, it has the advantage of being quick and easy.  A later post will describe a more complex method for power users that avoids these drawbacks.

In this approach, you use RefWorks to create a bibliography in a Microsoft Word document, and then use Word (or you favorite word processor that can import Word documents) to add the annotations.

In RefWorks, start by creating a folder, and put all the references for your bibliography into the new folder.  

Then, click on the Bibliography menu choice, and make the following selections:

  1. From the Output Style drop-down, choose your favorite style for your bibliography (or whatever style your professor told you to use), such as APA or MLA.
  2. Make sure the Format a Bibliography from a List of References radio button is selected.
  3. From the File Type to Create drop-down,  choose “Word for Windows (2000 or later)” (or choose “Word for Mac” if that is what you are using).
  4. For References to Include, make sure the References from Folder radio button is selected, and pick the folder you created from the drop-down list.

Your screen should look something like this:

Bibliography Screen

Click on Create Bibliography.

At this point, exactly what happens will depend upon what browser you are using, but you should be asked if you want to save or open a .doc file.  (If this doesn’t happen, make sure the pop-up blocker in your browser is turned off.)  Either open the file directly in Word, or save it to your computer and then open it.

It will look something like this, though different citation styles will of course produce different results.

Bibliography in Word

Since this is a standard Word document, you can now do anything you want with it.  In particular, you can edit it and add your annotations as separate paragraphs after each entry.  If you have particular requirements for how the annotation paragraphs should appear (indentation, spacing, etc.) you can use the standard Word tools to change these.  Don’t forget to save the file after you are done editing.

Here is how it can look:

Annotated Bibliography

The biggest drawback of this approach is that your annotations are only in the Word document, and not in RefWorks itself.  This is fine for a one-off project, but what if you decicide you want to add a few more references to your bibliography?  You will either need to manually add the new references to your Word document, or use RefWorks to generate a new bibliography and then copy and paste all your annotations to this new document.

Watch for an upcoming post showing another approach to creating an annotated bibliographyusing a custom output style.  It requires a bit more work up-front, but makes it easy to add new references.

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One response to “Creating an Annotated Bibliography: Quick & Easy

  1. Pingback: Creating an Annotated Bibliography: Custom Output Styles « RefWorks @ Boston University

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