Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.


An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (approximately 150-word) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Use the links below to learn how to write an annotated bibliography.

“Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. 2003. University of Wisconsin, Madison.5 March 2004 .

The format of an annotated bibliography can differ depending on its purpose and the nature of the assignment. Contents may be listed alphabetically by author or arranged chronologically by publication date. If the bibliography includes a lot of sources, items may also be subdivided thematically or by type. If you are unsure, ask your professor for specific guidelines in terms of length, focus, and the type of annotation you are to write.

You have just been given an assignment to write an annotated bibliography. Before you begin, you need to know what exactly an annotated bibliography is and how to get started.A descriptive or informative annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract, it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question, its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.To these basic citations, the annotated bibliography adds descriptive and evaluative comments (i.e., an annotation), assessing the nature and value of the cited works. The addition of commentary provides the future reader or researcher essential critical information and a foundation for further research.An excellent annotated bibliography by a geography student follows. Note how he takes advantage of all of the stylistic advice offered on the previous page, and how the paper’s sections begin to take shape even in the source descriptions. Note also that the writer's tone is upbeat and informed. We get a strong sense that the writer cares about the topic and will make it interesting to read about.Not to be confused with the abstract—which merely gives a summary of the main points of a work—the annotated bibliography always and often those points. Whether an annotated bibliography concludes an article or book—or is even itself a comprehensive, book-length listing of sources—its purposes are the same: