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Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography is the same as a “regular” bibliography (also known as a Works Cited or References list), with the addition of annotations (short paragraphs about each source). Two types of annotated bibliographies are the most common:

  • Descriptive: annotations describe the content of a source
  • Evaluative: annotations describe AND critically evaluate the source

What is an annotation? 

short paragraph (50-200 words) that describes and/or evaluates each citation (source of information listed in your bibliography). An evaluative annotation judges, in your opinion, the relevance, quality, and accuracy of each citation, in addition to describing the work. Annotations usually consist of the answers to the following questions:

  Questions to Answer:   Examples:
  What is the material?   Book, chapter, scholarly article, web page
  What is the work about?   Topics and subjects covered
  What is the purpose of the work?   Introduction, update, research report
  Who is the intended audience?   Scholars, general public

  Who is/are the author(s)? What are their qualifications?

  Academic qualifications, research background
  Authority of the source?   Peer-reviewed journal, reputable publisher
  Are there any clear biases?   Personal/corporate agenda, unbalanced discussion
  What are the deficiencies or limitations of the work?   Dubious research methods; information that is clearly missing
  What are the strengths of the work?   Thorough discussion, extensive research, major work in field


Do I have to read the entire book/article?

Not necessarily! Look for information in:

  • introductions/conclusions
  • abstracts
  • book reviews
  • websites
  • table of contents
  • first and last paragraphs

Unless otherwise advised, make sure your Annotated Bibliography is in alphabetical order. Start each annotation with a correct citation in the required citation style (e.g., APAMLAChicago).

**For sample annotations and proper formatting of an annotated bibliography, see these examples from Purdue OWL.

Additional information and tips for creating an annotated bibliography:

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