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FP-130 Research Guide

Tips for an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, web sites, and other resources.  Each citation is followed by a brief  descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation, to inform the reader of the accuracy, quality, and relevance of the sources cited.

How is an annotation different from a summary or an abstract?

An abstract or summary is just descriptive.  An annotation is both descriptive and critical.

What are the steps in creating an annotated bibliography?

Creating an annotated bibliography will require that you use a variety of intellectual skills:  evaluation, analysis, and careful library research.

The first step is to locate and record citations to books, articles, web sites, and newspapers on your topic.  Briefly examine and review the actual items, then select those resources that provide the best information on your topic. 

Second, cite book, article, or other resource using the appropriate documentation style.  See the Writing Your Paper tab on the left.

Finally, write a concise annotation that includes the criteria listed below:

  • the bibliographic entry as it will appear in your works cited page (Check with your instructor to find out which citation style he/she requires or recommends; then see the Writing Your Paper/Citing Your Sources tab on the left for examples and guidance)
  • a short summary of the source
  • evaluation of the quality of the source in terms of accuracy, authority, and overall usefulness
  • how this source will support or refute your thesis

For additional assistance in compiling an annotated bibliography and to see some sample annotations, you should check out the following useful web site:

The Writer's Handbook: Annotated Bibliography (The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison).

 This tip sheet is adapted from "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography," content by the Reference Department, Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS), Cornell University Library, and used with their permission. See: https://olinuris.library.cornell.edu/ref/research/skill28.htm