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Q. Annotated Bibliography



annotation: "To add notes to, furnish with notes (a literary work or author)." OED


Bibliography: is a collection/list of sources used to explore or research a specific topic/idea. Bibliographies have different names sometimes: Work Cited, Reference List, References, etc. The information included in a bibliography covers authorship, publication, and access.

Annotation: is summary or evaluation of a text. 

An annotated bibliography, therefore, is a type of assignment/project that asks the researcher/author to provide descriptions, summaries, and reflections on expert texts. But depending on your assignment guidelines or professor preference, annotated bibliographies can accomplish a couple of different goals:


According to Purdue OWL, an Annotated Bibliography “includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources” with each annotation summarizing, assessing, and reflecting on a source. Each annotation includes the complete citation for the source, a description of the main idea of thesis of the source, information about the author or audience, why the source is important, and an analysis of the importance, limitations, strengths and weaknesses, and/or gaps.



A bibliography is a list of resources (books, articles, dissertations, etc.), and the annotation is a paragraph of description that summarizes, assesses, and reflects on its source. Knowing this, an annotated bibliography is a list of sources that each have a paragraph of information that summarizes and analyzes the resource. An annotation is not an abstract.



  • To learn about your topic.
  • To provide an updated list of sources on your topic.
  • To prepare for literature reviews and other future research.



     Step 1: Brainstorming & Choosing a Topic

        Step 2: Finding Sources

        Step 3: Evaluate Sources & Taking Notes

        Step 4: Identify Key Aspects

        Step 5: Writing & Citations



Be sure to include:

  • Summarize the text: an annotated bibliography might just be a list of summaries of texts. If this is the case, it is important to include the following information: main arguments, design, accomplishments, and limitations. 
  • Asses the text: it is very common for annotated bibliographies to include some time of evaluation of the content of the source. The researcher/author might ask the following questions: "how credible is this source?"; "was their content valid and reliable?"; "is their argument fair?"; "what is the goal of this text and does the source achieve it?"
  • Reflect on the text: when asked to provide reflection, the researcher/author weaves their experience with the text alongside a summary and assessment of text. They might be asked to reflect on whether this text was helpful in accomplishing their researcher goals, or if the text was well written or easy to understand. Other questions one can ask include: "did this change my outlook on my topic?"; "does this text work with or against my foundational texts?"; "for what purpose will I use this text in my overall project.

NOTE: This guide provides general guidelines to follow when writing an annotated bibliography, however there are differences between discipline and class/professor requirement. 


Consider browsing these helpful resources: 

  1. Annotated Bibliography, Knowledge Market
  2. Annotated Bibliography, Writing Center
  3. Shape of an Annotation


(This information was adapted from Owl Purdue and GVSU WC Annotated Bibliography Page.)


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  • Last Updated Nov 04, 2019
  • Views 33
  • Answered By Melanie Rabine

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