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Annotated Bibliographies: Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of sources that have been used in researching a topic (books, journal articles, websites etc). A bibliography usually just includes bibliographic information (author, date, title, publisher etc).

An annotated bibliography includes a summary or evaluation for each one of these sources.

There are different types of annotated bibliography (check your assignment guidelines to see which one, or combination, is required).

  • Summary: concise description of the content or focus of the source. What are the topics covered? What are the main arguments? What are the author's key supporting ideas?
  • Evaluation: critical assessment of the source. Is the information reliable? Is the source biased or objective? What is the author's purpose? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is it useful?
  • Reflection: assess how the source fits in with your research. Was the source helpful? How can you use this source in your research? How has this source shaped your argument?

Annotation Structure

Duvall, John N. "The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo's White Noise." Arizona Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 3, 1994, pp. 127-53.*

A brief description of the contents of this source, including key ideas and concepts.

A critical evaluation of the source. A reflection on how this source relate to your research project?


The main text below your citation should be indented. The annotations may be grouped alphabetically (by author last name) or grouped by subject (if it's a lengthier annotated bibliography). Please adhere to your assignment instructions on the number and length of annotations.

*This citation is MLA style. Please check your assignment guidelines to see which citation format should be used.

Why Write Annotated Bibliographies?

To learn about your topic: It's an excellent way to help you prepare for your research project, ensuring you think critically about each source instead of just collecting information.

To help formulate a thesis: It gives you a good perspective on what is being written about your topic. You can see the prominent issues, debates and knowledge gaps to help you develop your own viewpoint. 

To help other researchers: Some annotated bibliographies are published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important being said about your topic.


Generally annotated bibliographies are written in a particular citation style (APA, Chicago or MLA). For more help on these citation styles, check out our online citation guide.