Each annotated entry includes a citation, an annotation, and (in most cases) lists of works discussed that borrow from other music ("Works") and of sources borrowed from ("Sources"). The initials of the annotator, enclosed in parentheses, or the word (Author) if the annotation is by the writer of the item, follow the annotation or lists of works and sources. The entry ends with "Index classifications" indicating the time period and in some cases the type of work involved.
General style follows the conventions of The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th or 15th ed., for titles, bibligraphic format, and other matters of style, using italics rather than underlining. Titles of works, even short ones, are in italics, with two exceptions: component parts of larger works (e.g., songs in a song cycle) are in quotation marks if the larger work is named, and works in standard forms are in roman type (e.g., Symphony No. 5 in C Minor). Op. and No. are capitalized in work titles.
Annotators submitting entries in electronic form should also observe some typographical conventions. Periods and commas that follow italic words are also in italics; other punctuation, unless part of an italicized title, is in roman. Curly quotation marks and apostrophes are not converted uniformly by all web browsers, so only straight marks should be used.
In general, citations follow the bibliography style in The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th or 15th ed. For periodicals, citations include The when present in the name of the journal, and include the season or month of the issue as well as the year: The Journal of Musicology 11 (Spring 1993): 174-202.
The ideal annotation is a summary of what the item says, as faithful as possible to the writer's intent within a few sentences. It does not merely describe the item or list topics covered, but rather states the main points and summarizes the evidence offered, so that someone who has not read the item would know in brief what it says about musical borrowing. The annotation also does not evaluate the item, praise or criticize the writer, or note other works in the bibliography that relate to the same topic but are not mentioned by the writer. The purpose of the annotation is to convey the thought of the writer efficiently and accurately, not the thinking of the annotator. A well done annotation need not mention the writer's name. If the item contains a great deal of information in charts, tables, or the text that cannot readily be summarized, this may be indicated (for example, "An appendix summarizes the sources for Agrippina and the ways Handel uses them").
When an item treats aspects of borrowing within a larger topic (such as a discussion of certain works within a book about a composer), the first sentence of the annotation should give a sense of what the whole item says or is about, without attempting to summarize it completely; the rest of the annotation should then summarize what the item says in relation to the uses of existing music.
List of works that use existing music ("Works")
This is a guide toward preparing an index of works that use existing music and a tool to allow electronic searching for such works. This list includes works that are discussed in the item in more than a passing reference. It proceeds in the order in which they are discussed in the item, listing composer and title for each work (the composer's name is omitted if the previous work is by the same composer) and giving in parentheses the page numbers on which each is discussed. Consecutive works by the same composer are separated with commas, all other works with semicolons.
When there are three or fewer works discussed, and all appear in the item title or in the annotation, this list has been omitted unless it provides useful information (such as page numbers). In the future, the bibliography will be revised to include this list for each annotated entry, even if only one work is discussed. Thus it should be included in all new entries.
If the item being annotated shows a relationship between works but does not claim that one borrows from another, as in cases of intertextuality or possible shared borrowing from a common but unknown source, these works are identified as "Related works."
List of works that use existing music ("Sources")
The bibliography is currently being revised to include a list for each annotated entry of sources that are borrowed from or used as models. This is organized in the same way as the list of works that use existing music.
To make the bibliography easier to use for those interested in particular historical periods or categories, we have introduced index classifications. These allow a user to search for all the items on music in a particular century or period or to limit their search by century or (in some cases) type. "General" is used for items that treat basic issues, such as definition or methodology. An item may fall in one classification, two, or several.
Each item in the bibliography should be assigned to one or more of the following classifications as appropriate: