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Creating a Bibliography: Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of works (books, articles, films, etc.) on a particular subject, with each entry in the list having a description, evaluation, or explanation. 


Annotations may be descriptive or evaluative.

A descriptive annotation may summarize:

  • The main purpose or idea of the work
  • The contents of the work
  • The author’s conclusions
  • The intended audience
  • The author’s research methods
  • Special features of the work such as illustrations, maps, tables, etc.

An evaluative annotation provides both a descriptive and critical evaluation of the source. The evaluative annotation usually begins with broad comments about the focus of the source then moves to more details. Evaluative annotation may include: 

  • The author’s bias or tone
  • The author’s qualifications for writing the work
  • The accuracy of the information in the source
  • Limitations or significant omissions
  • The work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • Comparison with other works on the topic


Not all annotations have to be the same length. A very short scholarly article may only take a sentence or two to summarize. Even if you are using a book, you should only focus on the sections that relate to your topic.

Usually an annotation is 3-5 sentences no more than 150-200 words.

Parts of an Annotated Bibliography

Each annotated item should include:

  1. Author's full name
  2. Full title of of book or article
  3. Facts of publication (Book: date, place, publishers) (Article: journal name, volume, issue, pages)
  4. A comment explaining the item                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Annotations are typically brief (one paragraph), concise and well-written.    


Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library (2021)
How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

Earlham College Libraries (2021)
How to Write Annotations & Annotated Bibliographies

Purdue University, The OWL at Purdue - OWL Materials
Annotated Bibliography Samples

University of California, Santa Cruz University Library.
How-to . . . Write an Annotated Bibliography

University of Minnesota Crookston Library.
Writing an Annotated Bibliography