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Annotated Bibliographies

You may have been assigned to write an annotated bibliography for a course. This guide will help you understand how to construct an annotated bibliography.

What is an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography in which each source is briefly summarized and/or evaluated. An annotation can be helpful to the researcher in evaluating whether the source is relevant to a given topic or line of inquiry.

What's the point of writing an annotated bibliography?

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to reflect on the things that you have read in your research and begin to synthesize the ideas you have gathered. An annotated bibliography may point your readers towards more sources on the topic that may be interesting or helpful for them.

How do I write an annotated bibliography?

Creating an annotated bibliography can be a very natural part of the research process. As you identify research questions and find sources that answer those questions, take notes on the materials that you've read and create a comprehensive list of sources. (Citation managers can help you keep track of your sources in an organized fashion.)

For each source on your list, you should summarize the content, assess the quality and relevancy of the source to your project, and reflect on the big ideas explicated in the source. Write a few sentences based on your reflections.

What does an annotated bibliography look like?


Depending on your field, you may cite your sources in a variety of styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago. See the citation guide for more information. Annotations may be in different formats depending on your class and professor, but usually you should just write a few sentences that summarize and evaluate the work.

Sample entry

Gilbert, Pam. "From Voice to Text: Reconsidering Writing and Reading in the English Classroom." English Education23.4 (1991): 195-211.

Gilbert provides some insight into the concept of "voice" in textual interpretation, and points to a need to move away from the search for voice in reading. Her reasons stem from a growing danger of "social and critical illiteracy," which might be better dealt with through a move toward different textual understandings. Gilbert suggests that theories of language as a social practice can be more useful in teaching. Her ideas seem to disagree with those who believe in a dominant voice in writing, but she presents an interesting perspective.

The annotation above is effective because it briefly summarizes the article's argument, places the argument in the context of the field, and evaluates the article.


Annotated Bibliography Example (The OWL at Purdue): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/02/

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