Annotation of Specific Source

Imagine you have found a source you believe will be beneficial to your research titled “The Relative Safety of Paternal, Maternal, and Traditional Foster Care Placements” in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. The article appears in Volume 70, published in August of 2017 on pages 1-10. The authors of the article are Jesse J. Helton, Brian B. Boutwell, and Michael DiBernardo. All of this information is necessary for the bibliographical citation entry that will precede and your annotation on this source. But how do you organize this information?

According to current APA guidelines, which you can access from many available outlets, including the Purdue OWL, the APA Style website, and various handbooks, the bibliographical citation for this particular source should be organized as follows below. Immediately following that entry (on the next line), you should begin your annotation with traditional paragraph indentation and punctuation. If you are only required to include a rhetorical précis, the entire annotation entry for this source may look like the following.


Helton, J. J., Boutwell, B. B., & DiBernardo, M. (2017). The relative safety of paternal, maternal, and traditional foster care placements. Child Abuse & Neglect 70, 1-10.

Helton, Boutwell, & DiBernardo (2017), in their article “The Relative Safety of Paternal, Maternal, and Traditional Foster Care Placements” in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, [argue, assert, suggest, claim, emphasize, etc.] that [clause containing the major assertion of the work]. They [explain, delineate, lay out, elaborate, discuss, etc.] [how the author(s) develop and/or support the thesis, in chronological order, if appropriate]. The authors [statement of the author’s (or authors’) apparent purpose] “in order to” [further explanation and reasons that support purpose]. The authors’ intended audience appears to be [insert whatever intended audience you’ve determined], which is apparent through [tone, diction, identification, etc.].

Depending on the requirements of the assignment, you may be asked to include more annotated information (such as further summary and/or analysis) in subsequent paragraphs, also traditionally indented and punctuated.

A Rhetorical précis Tip

The rhetorical précis is highly structured and may seem somewhat rigid. However, part of the challenge, and reward, of that structure is that it produces useful information on a source. The minimalism (some might say rigidity) of the précis structure demands that you identify what is most significant and useful about the purpose, method(s), and audience of any given source. Establishing such specific information about a source immediately requires critical engagement with that source, and that engagement will only not only add to your understanding of source(s), but will also potentially improve the development of your research project as a whole.

So, embrace the structure; follow and practice it; and keep in mind that it is intended to help you become a better researcher through intense engagement with your sources.