What are Annotated Bibliographies?


What is an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography, sometimes referred to as a 'reference list', is the alphabetical list of sources (e.g., books, journal/magazine articles, web sites) used in writing a research paper.  Each source in a bibliography (i.e., reference list) is represented by a citation which includes the source's author, title, and publication information.

An annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of citations with an additional description or evaluation (i.e., annotation) for each source. Each annotation should be no more than 150 words (4-6 sentences long). Annotations should be concise and well written.

The purpose of an annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source.

Annotations versus Abstracts

Abstracts are brief summaries often found at the beginning of articles that present the main points of the work. They are not intended to evaluate the article.

Annotations go beyond summarizing the content of an article. Annotations can be descriptive or evaluative, or a combination of both.  A descriptive annotation summarizes the scope and content of a work.  An evaluative annotation provides critical comment.

Contents of an annotation

An annotation can contain some or all of the following:

  • Main focus or purpose of the work
  • Intended audience of the work
  • Usefulness or relevance to your research topic (or why it did not meet your research needs)
  • Special features of the work: statistics, illustrations, reference list
  • Background and qualifications of the author
  • Conclusions reached by the author
  • Conclusions or observations reached by you

ExampleAnnotated Bibliography