How to Create an Annotated Bibliography

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About Annotations

What is an annotation?


An annotation is brief descriptive and/or evaluative summary of an article, book, or other resource


How are annotations and citations different?


Citations identify the resource, its location, and precede the annotations. Annotations are short paragraphs that describe and/or evaluate the resource.


Why annotate?


Annotations help you evaluate the resources and help you identify where your own research topic fits in the larger research world. They also display your understanding of the topic, the related research and the organization of your research project. 


Accessing, analyzing, and annotating a variety of resources makes your own research question more thorough, your project more comprehensive and your process of creating information more streamlined. And finally, that well-researched, -organized and -written product subsequently continues the scholarly conversation in your field. 


Annotations demonstrate your ability to:


  1. understand your own research question
  2. find relevant literature
  3. draw connections between your question, the context and the related literature


Where do annotations go?


Your professor might ask you to create an Annotated Bibliography or an Annotated Outline.

Types of Annotation

Annotations can be descriptive, informative and/or evaluative. Often, they are a combination of the types below.

Always check with your professor to see what kind of annotation is expected for each assignment.


Descriptive annotations answer the questions:


  • What kind of source is this?
  • Does this source address my topic?
  • Does this source have any special features such as graphs, appendices, etc.


Informative/Summative annotations answer the questions:


  • What content does this source contain?
  • What argument does author make?
  • What conclusions does the author make?


Evaluative/Critical/Analytical annotations answer the questions:


  • What is the research question and is it sound?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the study?
  • How does this source relate to your research topic?
  • Does this source address all the relevant issues?
  • How does this source compare to other sources?

Annotated Outlines



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What is an Annotated Bibliography?