Annotate Your Bibliography
What is the purpose of an annotation?
The purpose of an annotation is to describe the cited material, whether a book, article or other
type of source. It is a brief, descriptive note that should provide sufficient information so that
a determination can be made as to whether the source should be examined further for use.
Annotations help to to clarify each source, and they will often provide evaluative information as
Annotations are NOT book reviews. Be wary as you begin to write your annotations that you do not
create a book review. An annotation also differs from an abstract, in that the abstract is simply a
summary of the content. The annotation provides more guidance to the reader in determining the
usefulness of an individual work.
An annotation does not need to address each category below, but so far as possible, it should
improve the decision making and simplify the researcher's work. Annotations can be any length, but
are usually about 50 to 150 words in length.
Types of Annotations
- Written in the tone of the book or article, an informative annotation presents the original
material in a shorter form.
- Provides a description of the text, avoiding the addition of any evaluative commentary on its
- In addition to the information included in the previous annotation types, includes an
evaluative judgment of the material as well.
- Who is the author?
- What is his/her occupation, position, education, experience, etc?
- Is the author qualified (or not) to write the article?
- What is the purpose for writing the article or doing the research?
- To what audience is the author writing?
- Is it intended for the general public, for scholars, policy makers, teachers, professionals,
- Is this reflected in the author's style of writing or presentation?
- How is this evidenced?
- Does the author have a bias or make assumptions upon which the rationale of the article or
- What are they?
- What method of obtaining the data, or conducting the research was employed by the author?
- Is the article (or book) based on personal opinion or experience, interviews, library research,
questionnaires, laboratory experiments, standardized personality tests, etc?
- At what conclusion does the author arrive?
- Does the author satisfactorily justify the conclusion from the research or experience?
- Why or why not?
Relationship to Other Works
- How does the study compare with similar studies? Is it in tune with or in opposition to
conventional wisdom, established scholarship, professional practice, government policy, etc?
- Are there specific studies, writings, schools of thought, philosophies, etc., with which this
one agrees or disagrees and that one should be aware?
- Are there significant attachments or appendices such as charts, maps, bibliographies, photos,
documents, tests or questionnaires? If not, should there be?
Examples of annotated bibliographies