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Annotated Bibliography

Learn about annotated bibliographies and how to write them.

Types of Annotations

Descriptive annotations provide a brief overview or summary of the source.

These may include descriptions such as:

  • A summary of the source’s main points 

  • Information about author(s) credentials (what qualifies them to talk about this topic?) 

  • The source’s research methods and intended audience 

  • Other notable features such as writing style or presented data (charts, tables, graphs, images) 

Critical annotations include a summary with analysis or evaluation of the source.

Analysis may include:

  • The source’s contribution to scholarly conversation on the subject 

  • Authority and bias of author(s) 

  • Usefulness for the research topic 

  • Intended audience for the source

Informative annotations provide summative information about the research and results.

These may include information such as:

  • Hypotheses, proofs, and other data 

  • Thesis or argument 

  • Conclusion or results 

Combination annotations are the most common style. These combine multiple types of annotations including descriptive, evaluative/critical, and informative.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Annotations =/= Abstracts

Abstracts summarize the main points of the source. They are usually written by the author(s) or an editor. The abstract serves as a “too long; didn’t read” summary, similar to the “recap” montage TV shows use to remind viewers of what happened in the previous episode or season. 

Annotations usually provide more background on the source (description) and analysis (evaluation). In comparison to the abstract as a “recap” on TV, annotations are like the episode reviews, opinions, and discussions shared on social media, forums, or blogs the next day.

Writing Annotations

See below for plain text of infographic.

What should I write?  

Elements to consider when writing annotated bibliographies:  

Summary and Content  

  1. What is the thesis?  

  1. What are the research methods?  

  1. What are the results or conclusions? What is the justification?  

  1. Are there appendices or data presented?  

  • Charts, tables, or graphs  

  • Images or maps  

  • Survey or interview questions  

  • Bibliographies

Author and Audience  

  1. Does the author have expertise or experience with this topic?  

  1. Who is the publisher? What is their connection to the topic?  

  1. Is the source biased?  

  1. Who is the intended audience for this source? What is the intent or purpose of the source?

Usefulness for your Assignment  

  1. Is the source relevant to your topic?  

  1. Is the source current? Is there a more up-to-date source for this information?  

  1. How does this source contribute to your understanding of the topic?  

  1. How does the source support your thesis or argument?