Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography lists all of the reference sources you used in your history fair project. Each source listing must be followed by an annotation, that is, a brief explanatory note describing how you used the source in your project and how it helped you understand your topic.

When using automated citation tools, be sure to use one that allows you to select a specific style guide. Some tools, like EasyBib, assign a combination of styles and may result in documentation not being in compliance with Rule 18. REMEMBER that NHD rule 18 states: Style for citations and bibliographic references must follow the principles in a recent edition of one of the following style guides:

1. Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers
2. Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (link is to a summary document only)

Regardless of which manual you use, the style must be consistent throughout the paper and bibliography.

Your bibliography should have at least six different types of sources (eg., encyclopedia, newspaper, magazine, book, interview, etc.). It is not acceptable to rely exclusively on Internet sources for your research. Judges will examine your bibliography carefully to see that you consulted and used a wide range of sources.

Your bibliography must be divided into two sections, one listing primary sources and the second listing secondary sources. You should use the annotation to explain why you categorized a particular source as primary or secondary, if that is likely to be at all controversial. Historians do sometimes disagree and there is not always one right answer, so justify your choice to the judges.

There are several format standards for bibliography. These standards, often referred to as style guides, contain rules about what information to include in a citation as well as about punctuation, capitalization, underlining or italicizing, and so on. Whatever style guide you choose, you must use it consistently throughout your bibliography.

Note that as you research your topic, you will look at many more sources than you actually use. You should list in your bibliography only those sources that contributed to the development of your project, helped you understand your topic, and led you to your conclusions. You should list the sources of visual materials, such as photographs and art work, as well as such primary materials as oral interviews, letters, diaries, census records, and so on.

Examples of award winning NHD projects (and their annotated bibliographies and process papers) can be found here.