Kiss My Annotated Bibliography

APA_StyleI recently had a tutee complain bitterly about an teacher marking down papers because the papers did not comply with the instructors perspective on a particular style manual. It is not the first time for pompous declarations on all manner of style issues, and this time,  I though I would follow through and pose the question presented to the style experts at the APA.

Dear Style Experts, There is a small war going on at universities over how students are supposed to format “annotated bibliographies” using APA 6th Ed. Style, and students are getting caught in the cross-fire over assignments that will never see the light of day. Whether or not some Instructors may have missed their connection entirely, there is, nevertheless, a substantial basis for teaching students how to properly format documents for academic purposes, and I suppose the best way to bail the poor students out of their dilemma solution is to ask the experts to make things clear (which is, after all, your stated purpose.)

To which I received the following wonderful response:

The APA Publication Manual doesn’t specify requirements for annotated bibliographies, for the simple reason that they are not used in APA Style. In fact, APA Style does not use bibliographies of any sort (as noted at This is not just a quibble about vocabulary. A reference list has only one purpose: to provide the sources cited by the author. Bibliographies also provide sources, but they may include more, such as suggested reading, background reading not cited in the paper, and commentary on the sources. None of those things are included, or can be included, in an APA Style reference list. Instructors control their own curricula, and they may have valid pedagogical reasons for wanting students to produce an annotated bibliography. However, it is the instructor’s responsibility to fully inform students about the required format for the assignment. It’s an unfortunate fact that not all instructors are diligent in fulfilling this responsibility. Nevertheless, it is not within the scope of APA Style to instruct students on how best to violate APA Style. Hope this helps,

So, dear instructor, perhaps you had best reconsider?

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