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Annotated Bibliographies: Home

What is an annotated bibliography? Why an annotated bibliography? What might you address in an annotated bibliography?

Writing an Annotated Bibliography: The Basics

What is an annotated bibliography?

It's an organized list of cited references that includes both a brief summary and an evaluation of each source. The length requires that you use pithy description and succinct analysis.


Why an annotated bibliography?

  • As a literature review on a particular topic
  • Demonstrating to the reader if a source should be considered for her/his research
  • To illustrate the quality of your research
  • Providing examples of the types of sources available
  • Giving your research historical perspective or relevance
  • Exploring the parameters of the subject
  • Preparing for future research

What might you address in an annotated bibliography?

  • Audience – Who is the author addressing? Who should be reading this?
  • Authority – What are the writer’s credentials? Why should we believe what he has to say? Is the author really an authority?
  • Bias – Do the authors / publishers have a particular agenda they are trying to promote?
  • Content – Is what’s included appropriate? Is it worth reading?
  • Coverage – Is the topic explored thoroughly? Does the scope of the material match the author’s intentions? Is there a better work on this topic?
  • Currency – Is this up-to-date? Is timeliness important for this particular topic?
  • Organization – Does the arrangement of the content augment the argument?
  • Purpose – What does the author intend to convey? Does the author achieve this?
  • Relevance – Does this contribute significantly to research in this field?
  • Quality – Is this an exemplary demonstration of scholarship?
  • Special Features – Does this work include any attributes that benefit the reader and make it particularly useful? (illustrations, index, footnotes, recommended readings)
  • Writing Style – How does the manner in which the material is presented contribute to the overall purpose?

Additional Advice

Subject Guide

Rebecca Graff's picture
Rebecca Graff