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Annotated Bibliographies: What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Learn about writing annotated bibliographies.


All professors have different expectations about the length and contents of annotations. Be sure to check the assignment sheet or ask your professor what s/he requires for your annotated bibliography.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and other sources used while researching a topic. Bibliographies may be also be called "References" or "Works Cited," depending on the style manual used.

An annotation is a summary or evaluation.

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography with annotations for the items cited.

Descriptive Annotations

Descriptive annotations focus on describing the cited items and may include information such as:

  • Contents and purpose of work
  • Intended audience
  • Research methods used
  • Author's conclusions
  • Special features of the item, such as illustrations, maps, graphs, etc.

Evaluative Annotations

Evaluative (or critical) annotations focus on evaluating the source and may include information such as:

  • Importance of the work's contributions to the field of study
  • Author's qualifications
  • Accuracy of information
  • Limitations of the work
  • Bias or tone of the work
  • Comparsion with other works

Understanding the Annotated Bibliography

APA and MLA Annotated Bibliographies (Video)