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Writing the Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography? How do you write one? What purpose does it serve?

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What is an "Annotated Bibliography"?

A Bibliography is a listing of books or other materials on a particular topic, and it's purpose is to organize information about materials on a given subject so that researchers of that subject can then find and access that information.  

Annotation is the act or process of providing critical commentary or explanatory notes.  

So, at it's most basic form an annotated bibliography is a bibliography with critical commentary or explanatory notes.

An annotated bibliography is going to be a list of citations for books, articles or documents.  Each citation will be followed by a short (about 150-200 words) descriptive or evaluative paragraph.  This is the "annotation."  The purpose of this annotation will be to inform the reader about the relevance, accuracy and quality of the cited source.

Content adapted from How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography  [] 


annotated bibliography. (2006). In J. Stevenson (Ed.), Dictionary of information and library management (2nd ed.). London, UK: A&C Black. Retrieved from

annotation. (2016). In Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (Ed.), The American Heritage (R) dictionary of the English language (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved from

bibliography. (2006). In J. Stevenson (Ed.), Dictionary of information and library management (2nd ed.). London, UK: A&C Black. Retrieved from



Annotation or Abstract? 

An abstract is a descriptive summary, usually found at the beginning of a scholarly journal article.  Annotations are both descriptive and critical.  They will summarize the source, provide an evaluation and reflect on how that source fits in to your research.  

Content adapted from How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography  [] 

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