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. Bibliography. What is an Annotated Bibliography?. Breaking it down. :. Annotation. : a summary or evaluation. Bibliography. : a list of sources used in research. 1. Annotated . Bibliography. : a short description, explanation, and/or evaluation of each source used in a research paper.

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What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Breaking it down:Annotation: a summary or evaluationBibliography: a list of sources used in research1Annotated Bibliography: a short description, explanation, and/or evaluation of each source used in a research paper2,3


. Geoff Stacks, Erin


, Dana


, and Allen


, “Annotated Bibliographies,”

Purdue Online Writing Lab

, last modified March 10, 2013,


. Ibid.


. “Annotated Bibliographies,”

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill

, accessed April 9, 2016,


What does it consist of?

An annotation of a source should have at least some of these key elements:SummaryEvaluationReflection4Which of these elements you include depends on the source and the assignment requirements; some annotations may only require a summary, for example5

4. Stacks, et al., “Annotated Bibliographies” 5. Ibid.



The summary should focus on explaining the source through covering:Main topics or argumentsIts purpose or applicationMethods of data collection or investigationMain conclusions6

6. Deborah Knott, “Writing an Annotated Bibliography,”

Writing at the University of Toronto

, accessed April 12, 2016,



The next step you might include is an evaluation or critique of the source. Here, you can assess its:Usefulness and originalityMethods and conclusionsReliability and objectivityGoal or purposeLimitations7,8

7. Knott, “Writing an Annotated Bibliography” 8. “Annotated Bibliographies,” The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill



It can also be important to reflect on a source’s relation to your own research. You may include:How its ideas connect to your topicHow it influenced your thoughts and perceptionsHow it helped shape your argument How useful it was to your topicHow you utilized it in your writingHow it connects to your other sources9,10

9. Stacks, et al., “Annotated Bibliographies”

10. “Writing Annotated Bibliographies,”

Temple University Writing Center

, accessed April 12, 2016,


Formatting an Annotated Bibliography

How long should it be?Depends on source length and your assignment requirementsi.e. An annotation for a book would likely be longer than that for a short articleMost tend to be around one or two short paragraphsKeep it concise11How should it be organized?Just like a typical reference list – in alphabetical order, in the correct format, and with all bibliographic information presentAnnotation is typically located beneath the source citation, but check your assignment guidelines and the style guide for the format you are writing in (i.e. MLA, APA)12

11. “Writing Annotated Bibliographies,”

Temple University Writing Center

12. Ibid.


Formatting an Annotated Bibliography

What style should it be in?Typically, annotations are in paragraph form with complete sentences. These are longer, go into greater depth, and tend to include more elements.However, your instructor may prefer a telegraphic/telescopic style: uses phrases and non-sentences; grammar and sentence structure are not the priority heremeant to state the relevant info quickly and briefly13Always check with your instructor on his or her preferred style of annotated bibliography

13. “Annotated Bibliography,”

The Writing Center at The University of Wisconsin-Madison

, last modified August 29, 2014,


What’s the purpose?

There are several reasons for writing an annotated bibliography.Doing so benefits you by…Proving your comprehension and demonstrating the effort you put into researchGiving you and your work greater credibility Helping you better understand the content of your sources so you can more effectively utilize themMaking you a better reader and critical thinker15,16

14. Stacks, et al., “Annotated Bibliographies” 15. “Annotated Bibliographies,” The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill


What’s the purpose?

And it benefits others by…Giving them further information to look into related to your topicHelping them decide what sources are worthwhileHelping them better understand the content of the sourcesLetting them check or test your claims/findingsGiving an overview of what’s being said about the topic and what’s important about it16,17

16. Stacks, et al., “Annotated Bibliographies”

17. “Annotated Bibliographies,”

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill


Annotated bibliographies are a wonderful way to give further information and evaluation on a source used in your work. Doing so enhances and demonstrates your understanding of the content, makes you a better critical reader, and helps fellow researchers by providing more resources to look into. Always make sure to check with your instructor, assignment guidelines, and the appropriate style guide when it comes to formatting your annotated bibliography.