Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum MORE

The Annotated Bibliography

The Annotated Bibliography is a required element of all History Fair Projects.

This page has been updated for the 2020-21 season!

What is a bibliography?

The bibliography is a list of sources used in research.  It is considered the “footprints” of the project because anyone should be able to use it to find the sources actually used by the researcher.

All History Fair projects must include an annotated bibliography that follows these requirements:

  • Lists all sources that students consulted in developing their entry.
  • Combine photos or other materials from the same collection into a single citation. (See
  • Separate your bibliography into two sections: one for primary sources and one for secondary sources.
  • Do not attach primary or secondary materials to your annotated bibliography.
  • Do not include your annotated bibliography in the word count.

There is a specific format, or style, in which a bibliography should appear.

About an “annotated” bibliography

Each citation must include a brief annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to provide information about your research process, not to provide analysis to circumvent the word count. Each annotation must be no more than two or three sentences. The annotation should explain the following:

  • How you used the source
  • How the source helped you to understand the topic

Use annotations to explain your reasoning for classifying any sources that are not clearly primary or secondary.
Classifying a source as both primary and secondary is inappropriate.

An annotation summarizes the source and describes how that source was useful to your project.  Keep a working annotated bibliography during the research process because it will be challenging, if not impossible, to try and remember this information once you have finished your project.  Lack of annotations can significantly damage a student’s evaluation in the competition.

Do you have sample annotations?

“The biography described the life of Florence Kelley through the eyes of one of her young co-workers. The author described her as a very determined individual and detailed how she tried to enforce the new Factories and Workshop law and the trouble she had enforcing it.”

“This book contains essays by both BPP members and outsiders, who examine the rise, activities, and fall of the BPP.  It gave me a good idea of the ideology of the party, and some of the underlying reasons for FBI retaliation.

“This article talks about the difference in opinions between different groups of Jews at the NCJW convention and how the NCJW got around the difference and was able to stay successful.  This article was important to my project because it talks about the NCJW’s struggles, and not just how great it was.”

Example Annotated Bibliography

Which bibliographic style is acceptable in History Fair projects?

Rule 20 of the NHD Rule Book states: “Citations and bibliographic references must follow the most recent edition of one of the two permitted style
guides below. Regardless of which manual you use, the style must be consistent throughout all written material.

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style by the University of Chicago Press
  2. MLA Handbook by the Modern Languages Association of America”

The NHD Rule Book notes that “Historians prefer The Chicago Manual of Style because its footnote/endnote formatting works best for historical
sources. However, NHD accepts the MLA Handbook because of its widespread use in many schools.”

What resources can be consulted for bibliographic styles

Style guides:

Online services:

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories