Skip to main content


Annotated Bibliographies: Annotation, deconstructed

Instructions and a sample of writing annotations relevant to a proposed paper topic. Sample included

Why am I doing this?

Warning: Finding information may be easier than using information. 

Make the move from the research process to the writing process by assembling and organizing your research in an annotated bibliography.

A bibliography lists the sources that you have found with information relevant to your research question.  Writing a short critique or analysis of each of those resources explains how you plan to use the information and why you chose it.

The annotation shows that you have read and understood the information you are using—a necessary step in being able to use the information in your writing.

Parts of an annotated bibliography

Research question or thesis:

Start your Annotated Bibliography by saying what you are researching.  Often this will be a statement that you will refine as you move through the process of reading and assimilating the information you find. You may not finalize this section until you are done with the rest of the bibliography, but make sure it is clear, specific, and accurate.  By explaining your research goal, you provide the context that shows the value and relevance of your information sources.

For each article, book, or Web site include the following three elements.

The citation:

Just as with a Works Cited list or Reference page, this part of the entry for an annotated bibliography requires that you cite your source in the citation style required by your professor.  Instructions for MLA and APA are linked to this guide.

Summary of content:

A short paragraph that describes the main points the authors make and/or the reason for their research, analysis, or review.  Write three or four sentences to show that you understand what the authors were trying to accomplish in their work.

Evaluative analysis:

A second short paragraph that explains why you have chosen this source to support your claim or answer your question.  What credentials or experience does the author have that makes him or her credible?  Most importantly, how does the content of this article, book, or Web site relate to your research question?  Note any shortcomings or problems you see with information regarding the extent of the research, perspective of the authors, or accuracy of the data.