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Annotated Bibliographies

Describes what an annotated bibliography is and how to make one.

In This Guide

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations (aka bibliography, reference list, or works cited) that has been expanded to include more information about each item. The “more information” part is called the annotation, and it provides a brief summary and/or evaluation of each cited item. An annotation appears following each citation. This applies whether your citations are in APA, MLA, Chicago, or any other style specified by your instructor. See examples.

An annotated bibliography may be a stand-alone assignment or part of a larger research project or paper.

What to Include in an Annotation

Each entry has a citation followed by an annotation. Review your assignment to see how many entries to include, which annotation components are required, and how long each annotation should be. In most cases, you will write your annotations using one or more of the following three components:


Describe the source in your own words, without evaluation or commentary. State the main argument and summarize key points. For sources presenting original research, also briefly describe the methods and results.


Assess the quality and credibility of the source, considering strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful to consider elements of the CRAAP test: currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose/point of view. For sources presenting original research, also assess methodology and results.


Reflect on how the source fits in with your topic and/or larger project, and how it compares with the other sources in your annotated bibliography.

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Your assignment may specify that you create a specific type of annotated bibliography. Each type includes different combinations of the annotation components.

Summary annotated bibliographies include a summary and perhaps a reflection. These may also be called informative, descriptive, or summative.

Evaluative annotated bibliographies include a summary, evaluation, and perhaps a reflection. These may also be called critical or analytical.

Steps for Doing an Annotated Bibliography

  1. Find a source that you would like to use. See Finding box on the Get Help page.
  2. Cite the source in APA, MLA, Chicago, or another style specified by your instructor.
  3. Write an annotation for the source. This may include one or more annotation components: summary, evaluation, and/or reflection.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the needed number of sources.
  5. Put the sources in alphabetical order.

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Guide Owner

This guide is maintained by Ruth Terry.

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