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Annotated Bibliographies

Gives an overview of annotated bibliographies and examples of the four most common kinds of annotations.

What's in this Guide

Here you will find links and information for creating annotated bibliographies.  Use the blue tabs above to navigate through the pages of this guide.

If you are creating an annotated bibliography for a class assignment, be sure to check with your professor to determine the citation format and length, and the type of annotations you will be writing.

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography, sometimes called an annotated list of works cited, is a source list of citations to books, articles, and other documents.  Each citation is followed by a brief sentence or paragraph that contains descriptive or evaluative comments on the sources. 

Purpose 

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to give the reader a summary of the sources cited, and / or to inform the reader of their relevance, accuracy, and / or quality. 

Audience

The key to writing a good annotation is to consider who will use it.  If it is for someone else, what will your reader need to know in order to decide whether or not to read the text himself or herself?  If it is for you, how can you sum up the work so that later you will remember your ideas about it?  Be brief, clear, and succinct to convey the maximum useful information in your annotation.

Length and Tone

Annotations can vary in length from brief (a sentence or less) to detailed (a page or more).  The average length is from around four to five sentences, or 150 words.  The length relates to the purpose and intended audience. 

Annotations begin on the line following the citation data and may be composed with complete sentences or as verb phrases (the cited work being understood as the subject).  Always check with your professor for guidance.

Subject Guide