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Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies

Page history last edited by msellar@marymountpv.edu 9 years, 1 month ago

Library Guide


Annotated Bibliographies

In many courses you will be asked to create and submit an annotated bibliography to accompany a paper. You may even have to submit this bibliography in advance of the final paper so that your professor can review it and give you feedback.  But what is an annotated bibliography (AB), why are you asked to do this, and how do you create one? This guide answers these questions.


What is an Annotated Bibliography?


An annotated bibliography (AB) is a formal document that lists and briefly describes or evaluates all of your sources (whether an in-progress, or working, bibliography or the final bibliography).


Depending on your professor's requirements, you will write either a descriptive or evaluative paragraph for each one of your sources. A descriptive AB essentially asks you to summarize the main ideas/points of the source, while an evaluative AB asks you to write critical judgments of your sources. In both types, you must carefully analyze your particular source and then articulate how you intend to use that source in your paper.


Why are you asked to write an Annotated Bibliography?


What is it you will learn by doing an annotated bibliography? By writing these annotations, you will:


  • Demonstrate the quality and depth of your reading on your topic
  • Reflect on your sources, which encourages you to be selective and thoughtful -- not any old resource will do!
  • Work from a research plan and begin organizing your sources for further stages of research


How do you create an Annotated Bibliography?


The nature of your AB depends upon the requirements specified in your assignment. For example, should the annotations be evaluative or descriptive? How long should each annotation be (typically a paragraph of 4-5 sentences)? Is it a working bibliography or a final bibliography? This is all information that you need to determine.


General of steps to follow for a descriptive annotated bibliography:


  1. Search, read, and select the appropriate number and types of sources.
    • Be thoughtful and intentional - you'll have to justify your selections
  2. Create a Bibliography document with a reference for each source.
    • Be sure to use the appropriate style (e.g. MLA, APA)
    • Include your research question/topic in the document
  3. Read each source (fully or strategically)
    • Skim the table of contents and select certain chapters for longer texts, such as books
  4. Write an annotation for each source:
    • Summarize the main ideas/points
    • Identify unique or interesting information
    • Reflect on if and how the source was useful


Are you a visual learner? Watch this video:


Annotated Bibliography in 5 min from cbtvid on Vimeo.


Examples of Annotated Bibliographies


Example ID117 Annotated Bibliography from Marymount College


Example AB from CSU Northridge


Example from the NJ Institute of Technology



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