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Annotated Bibliographies: Home

What's an Annotated Bibliography : Brock University Library

Annotated Bibliographies : An Illustrated Guide (Carnegie Vincent Library)

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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a descriptive list of resources (books, articles, films, sound recordings, Web sites, etc.) focusing on a common theme. Each entry in an annotated bibliography has a full citation and an annotation ranging from a few sentences to several paragraphs.

The citation provides information about the author, title, date, source, and publisher of the item.

The annotation is a concise and informative description that summarizes and evaluates the contents of a resource. It differs from an abstract, which just summarizes the original content. An annotation usually strikes a balance between summary and evaluation by addressing some of the following:

  • Describe briefly the content of a resource
  • Evaluate the usefulness of the item for the particular topic being studied
  • Explain the methodology that was used to locate source
  • Draw attention to any themes addressed
  • Highlight strengths and/or weaknesses
  • Discuss the reliability of the author or source
  • Critically evaluate the content for accuracy, bias, and authority

Sonoma State University

Why Should I Write and Annotated Bibliography?

It is excellent preparation for a research project.  It forces you to read your selection of sources more carefully.  Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. 

Every good research paper is an argument. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you will start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you will then be able to develop your own point of view.


Start with the bibliographic information for your source.  Follow the MLA format.  The annotation will be under the citation and it will be written in paragraph form.  The annotation is indented, so that the author’s name is the only text that is flush to the left.  There should be a paragraph for each of the following sections under the citation:  summary, assessment, and reflection.  The paragraphs can range from 2-6 sentences, depending on how much information is relevant to the annotation.  

Each entry is arranged in alphabetical order by the first word in each citation, just as it always is on a works cited page.  When students do a really long annotated bibliography with many sources, sometimes it is convenient to separate the different types of sources such as books, scholarly journal articles, websites into separate categories and then alphabetize those sources under each category. 

Example of an Annotated Citation

Lamont, Anne. Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1995. Print   (citation)

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to  the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. (summary)

Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach. (assessment)

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable. (reflection)


A Bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, etc) one has used for researching a topic.  Bibliographies are also called Works Cited or Reference pages.  A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, etc).  We usually use the MLA format.

An Annotation is a summary and/or evaluation of a source.  Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and an evaluation of each source.  Your annotations should include the following.

Summary: What is the point of the article or book?  What topics are covered?  What type of information does it provide? If someone asked you, what would you say this article/book was about?

Assessment: Your evaluation of the source. Is it a useful source? Is the information reliable? Is the source biased or objective? Who is the author? Is he qualified in this subject? Is the source scholarly or popular?

Reflection: How does this source fit in with your research topic.  Was this source helpful to you? How does it help to shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic? Has it made you think of narrowing or broadening your topic?

Citation Generators


GVRL and our Databases have a citation button that will create a citation for you to copy and paste onto your Works Cited page.