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What You Need to Know About Annotated Bibliographies

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An Introduction to Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography? Annotated bibliographies are aggregated lists of resources that correlate with a research topic. Students and researchers actively seek out exceptional resources about a specific research topic and develop of list of the best resources they’ve found. In addition to information about the source (such as the title, author’s name, publication information, and other identifiable information), writers also include a brief synopsis of each source to provide readers with information about its contents.

Follow the directions below, developed by Cite This For Me, to form a bibliography with annotations.

How to Do an Annotated Bibliography

The act of compiling a bibliography of this type involves:

In many nonfiction books and texts, authors provide readers with a suggested listing of resources for further reading. This is somewhat similar to an annotated bibliography, except a bibliography of this type takes it one step further and includes a brief write-up (about a paragraph long) about each source.

This specific type of bibliography can stand as an individual assignment or it can be one component of a full research project.

Looking for more information? Need a sample annotated bibliography? In need of another annotated bibliography definition? Click here for further reading.

Why Are Annotated Bibliographies Created?

These specific bibliographies are created for numerous reasons. One reason is to encourage students and researchers to become experts on a topic or area of study. It takes quite a bit of effort and time to access, read, and analyze sources related to a research topic. Scouring the wealth of information available promotes understanding and mastery.

They are also assigned to demonstrate, as well as to advance, information literacy skills. Using accurate keywords and subject headings, accessing databases, and analyzing sources are skills that are necessary in the 21st century. Compiling a bibliography of this type promotes these skills and helps students and researchers demonstrate good practices when it comes to information literacy.

Furthermore, these bibliographies can be helpful to others who are researching the same or a similar topic. Since they provide readers with a brief synopsis, or abstract, of each documented source, readers can determine if they can use it for their own tasks. They may find that the information relates to their own research goals and decide to locate and use the source as well, or they may decide to skip it.

What Elements Are Included in An Annotated Bibliography?

If you’re wondering how to write an annotated bibliography, or need an annotated bibliography template, follow these recommended guidelines from Cite This For Me.

Bibliographies include the following items, in this order:

Below each citation, add the annotation. The annotation should be a write-up of about one paragraph, summarizing the source or providing a critique that pertains to the research topic.. For an explanation on the different types of annotations, click here for more.

Annotated Bibliography Examples

Below are a variety of examples and samples to help you understand how to make an annotated bibliography. Please note that only a couple annotations are included to provide an idea of the content and structure. If these were to be complete assignments, the bibliographies below would include more sources.

If you’re still asking yourself, “what is an annotated bibliography?” or wondering what to include in an annotated bibliography, check over here.

Annotated Bibliography Example #1: A MLA style bibliography with summary annotations

Topic: Research Habits of Young Children

This bibliography provides insight into the researching habits of young children. The majority of the resources were found using the ERIC database and include a variety of scholarly articles written in the past two years. These journal articles were peer reviewed.

Karalar, Halit, and Sabri Sidekli. “How Do Second Grade Students in Primary Schools Use and Perceive Tablets?” Universal Journal of Educational Research , vol. 5, no. 6, 2017, pp. 965-71. ERIC , doi: 10.13189/ujer.2017.050609.

This case study examined 60+ second graders in Turkey, seeking to determine how digital natives use tablets. Found that students use tablets to play games, search online, complete homework, and watch videos. Students did not use the tablets to read books, listen to music, or take photos. Students prefer playing outside to using tablets.

Knight, Simon, and Neil Mercer. “Collaborative Epistemic Discourse in Classroom Information-Seeking Tasks.” Technology, Pedagogy and Education, vol. 26, no. 1, 2017, pp. 33-50. ERIC, doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2016.1159978.

Focused on a small group of 11-year-olds who performed various tasks and located answers via search engines. Sought to determine if students regularly discuss their information-seeking practices and findings with one another. Authors found that students did discuss their processes, which ultimately resulted in positive learning outcomes.

Annotated Bibliography Example #2: An APA style bibliography with critique annotations

Note that The American Psychological Association does not provide guidelines or promote the development of annotated bibliographies. However, your teacher or professor may have assigned you one in this specific format. Cite This For Me recommends using the format and structure provided in this guide. Use the example of annotated bibliography below for reference as well.

Understanding the researching habits of young children provides educators with the ability to formulate developmentally appropriate research tasks and understand expectations. In addition, current research allows us to gather information about common misconceptions and to work towards changing them.

This bibliography displays a variety of current scholarly journal articles to help understand students’ research habits. The bibliography is organized by the platform studied and discussed in each article: Research on Desktop Computers and Research on Tablets. Since students’ researching habits can change depending on the platform used, it seemed appropriate to organize the bibliography as such.

Research on Computers

Knight, S., & Mercer, N. (2017). Collaborative epistemic discourse in classroom information-seeking tasks. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(1), 33-50.

Concluded that student discussion during information-seeking tasks helps with understanding and completing research tasks. Small sample of students (8), which makes results difficult to compare to whole population. Developmentally appropriate search activity for students. Many students stated they looked for “official websites” in order to trust information.

Research on Tablets

Karalar, H., & Sidekli, S. (2017). How do second grade students in primary schools use and perceive tablets? Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(6), 965-971.

Attempts to understand how a small sample of 2nd graders in Turkey use their tablets. As an educator, the format of the open-ended written responses seemed developmentally too difficult. However, it stated in the study that students completed it easily. Findings were not surprising. Fourteen out of 63 students stated they use tablets for searching. One student stated, “It knows whatever I asked,” so it can be assumed that perhaps Siri, or some other type of voice recognition software, was used to type in the search strings or keywords.

Click here for an additional annotated bibliography sample/example of an annotated bibliography. This source also explains how to define annotated bibliography and answers the question, “What are the parts of an annotated bibliography?”

Notice the two annotated bibliography samples found above have different structures. The first bibliography is formatted in alphabetical order by the author’s last names, while the second bibliography is organized into different categories. Both are acceptable. If the bibliography is very long, it may be helpful to organize it into different subject headings or categories.

Researchers and students can also organize their bibliographies in chronological order. This is often done when many of the sources are created by the same person. For example, if writing a bibliography about short stories Mark Twain wrote, it would make sense to organize the bibliography by publication date. For further information on the organization and for an example annotated bibliography, click here to get more info. This site also features an annotation worksheet, which can be used as an annotated bibliography maker.

Here are some additional recommendations from Cite This For Me to help format your annotated bib:

If you are creating the bibliography in MLA:

If you are creating the bibliography using APA format:

Don’t forget, Cite This For Me generates citations in even more styles . Use Cite This For Me’s citation generator to develop your citations in a few easy steps.

An annotated bibliography contains three parts: 1. the title at the top; 2. the bibliographic citation; and 3. the annotation following each citation. Some style formats may also include an introduction to the topic. While the citation provides standard details about the work, the annotation following it is generally summary, analysis, or evaluation. A summary or analysis may also include an evaluation.

The annotated bibliography may be organized alphabetically by authors’ last names, by category, or chronologically.

Elements of an Annotated Bibliography

Title: Annotated Bibliography (centered)

Citation (per APA or MLA or Chicago format)

Annotation (150 to 250 words in summary, analysis, or evaluation)

You should create an annotated bibliography for the following reasons:

These points are discussed in detail below.

Evaluating the credibility, authenticity, and authority of your sources

When you assess a source’s credibility, authenticity, and authority, you become genuinely knowledgeable on whether that source is trustworthy and reliable enough to base your research on. This is of paramount importance when the paper bases its findings on your sources.

Understanding a Topic in Depth

A source can either provide information at a shallow level or at a much deeper level. By creating an annotated bibliography, you can evaluate at what level a resource provides information. Most importantly, the resource enables you to fathom your level of understanding of the subject and transfer that knowledge to future readers of your paper.

Assessing the Need for Further Research

By compiling an annotated bibliography, you can assess if the sourced ideas are enough and relevant or if you need to dig deeper to get more information on your chosen area of focus. While you may get information from all your sources, the ideas and conclusions that you derive from those sources are to be your own. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you to arrive at a final conclusion more easily when you synthesize your ideas and conclusions in a cohesive manner.


Annotated Bibliographies: Writing the introduction

Why write the intro AFTER the bibliography???

Projects like an annotated bibliography lead you beyond what you knew when you started. Your annotated bibliography will be shaped by what you find and what you learn , so it makes sense to write the Introduction when you know exactly what you've accomplished, and what the final scope and limitations of your resource selection are.

The introduction

7.   WRITE AN INTRODUCTION Typically a short overview of the research focus, the introduction needs to define the topic, the scope of the bibliography, and if it is meant to cover the whole range of opinion or just one viewpoint or aspect. Check your  Subject Outline  or verify with your lecturer for what else needs to be included in the introduction.

Note: In a very short exercise ("Write an annotated bibliography with at least three different works."), giving it an informative title might take the place of writing an introduction.

For longer bibliographies, especially ones that attempt to give a full overview of a topic, having an introduction is essential. Very specific topics need to be defined clearly, or the reader might be misled.

Describe the scope of your bibliography, i.e., whether it covers what you judge to be the best, or the most recent, or a broad sample of the available material on your topic.

Again, does it cover the whole range of opinion, or just one viewpoint or aspect of the topic?

Example: Postmodern Interpretations of Hamlet

Does it cover a particular time period, or does it reach back for the "classic" articles, even if they are decades old?

Black Republicans' Opinions on Barack Obama's Candidacy

Negative Criticism of Keynesian Economics during the Reagan Administration

The Lutheran Response to the Holocaust, 1951-1975


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Where to get help

Acknowledgement of Country

Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts

annotated bibliography example with introduction

Annotated Bibliography Samples

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This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in your own bibliography should reflect your research project and/or the guidelines of your assignment.

As mentioned elsewhere in this resource, depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand. Some annotations may address all three of these steps. Consider the purpose of your annotated bibliography and/or your instructor’s directions when deciding how much information to include in your annotations.

Please keep in mind that all your text, including the write-up beneath the citation, must be indented so that the author's last name is the only text that is flush left.

Sample MLA Annotation

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.

In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

In the sample annotation above, the writer includes three paragraphs: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively.

For information on formatting MLA citations, see our MLA 9th Edition (2021) Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America . Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

The annotation above both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For information on formatting APA citations, see our APA Formatting and Style Guide .

Sample Chicago Manual of Style Annotation

Davidson, Hilda Ellis. Roles of the Northern Goddess . London: Routledge, 1998.

Davidson's book provides a thorough examination of the major roles filled by the numerous pagan goddesses of Northern Europe in everyday life, including their roles in hunting, agriculture, domestic arts like weaving, the household, and death. The author discusses relevant archaeological evidence, patterns of symbol and ritual, and previous research. The book includes a number of black and white photographs of relevant artifacts.

This annotation includes only one paragraph, a summary of the book. It provides a concise description of the project and the book's project and its major features.

For information on formatting Chicago Style citations, see our Chicago Manual of Style resources.

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How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an enhanced list of citations that briefly summarizes each article, book, or other source of information and explains why it is important for your topic.  It can be divided into two distinct parts: the annotation and the bibliography.

There is not an official format for annotated bibliographies, though usually the bibliographic citation is written in APA or MLA format.  If this is being done for a class, ask the instructor which format you should use. ​

Example of entries on an Annotated Bibliography

Henderson, R., & Honan, E. (2008). Digital literacies in two low socioeconomic classrooms: Snapshots of practice. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, (7)2 , 85-98.

Provides snapshots of digital practices in two middle-level classrooms within low socioeconomic suburbs in Australia during one school term. Ethnographic research techniques were used to investigate (1) teachers' pedagogical approaches to using digital literacy practices with low-income students; (2) students' access to digital technologies at home and at school; and (3) how home literate practices compared to the practices valued in school. Results underscore the need to disrupt teachers' deficit views of these students' home digital literacies so that school practices can be built upon the knowledge and literacies students already have. 

(Beach et al., 2009)

Frazen, K., & Kamps, D. (2008). The utilization and effects of positive behavior support strategies on an urban school playground. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 10, 150-161. doi: 10.1177/1098300708316260.

This study examined the effectiveness of a school-wide PBS recess intervention across three grades—2 nd , 3 rd , and 4 th .  The intervention included a token economy system for following five operationally defined, positively stated school rules.  A multiple baseline design across grades was used to determine the effectiveness of the swPBS recess intervention on inappropriate behaviors.  Intervention was implemented across the three grades at staggered times.  When intervention was implemented, inappropriate behavior demonstrated a change in level for all grades and a decrease in variability for one grade (2 nd ). Trend was relatively stable across all phases for two classrooms and a slight increasing trend was observed during baseline for the 4 th grade that stabilized once the intervention was implemented. Experimental control was demonstrated when (1) baseline behavior remained consistent despite the implementation of intervention in other grades, (2) only when intervention was implemented was a change in behavior level observed, and (3) experimental control was demonstrated at three distinct points. 

(McCoy, 2015)

Why are Annotated Bibliographies useful?

An annotated bibliography demonstrates your understanding of a topic.  It's easy to add a source to a reference list and forget about it when you just need a citation, but you will read and evaluate that source more carefully when you have to write an annotation for it. Since annotations need to be more than just a summary and explain the value of each source, you are forced to think critically and develop a point of view on the topic.  Writing an annotated bibliography is a great way to start preparing a major research project because you will see what arguments have already been proposed in the literature and where your project can add something new to the larger body of work.

Reading published scholarly annotated bibliographies is an efficient method for starting research since they will provide a comprehensive overview of a topic and introduce what other researchers are saying about a topic.

Beach, R., Bigelow, M., Dillon, D., Dockter, J., Galda, L., Helman, L., . . . Janssen, T. (2009). Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English.  Research in the Teaching of English,   44 (2), 210-241. Retrieved from

McCoy, D. (2015). Annotated bibliography #1 behavior research methods [Class handout]. Behavior Analysis, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

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Sample Annotated Bibliography with Introduction

To print or download this file, click the link below:

Annotated Bibliographies: Introduction

An annotated bibliography is often used in academic writing to help guide the research process by presenting a focused selection of sources that are relevant to your topic.

What to Include

Check with your professor's instructions regarding:

Each entry in an Annotated Bibliography includes:

Learn More...

Selecting Sources & Writing Tips

annotated bibliography example with introduction


annotated bibliography example with introduction

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GEOG_GEOL4120: Introduction to Research: Home

annotated bibliography example with introduction

annotated bibliography example with introduction

Welcome to the Research Guide for GEOG/GEOL 4120: Introduction to Research.  This guide has been specifically created to help you be successful in navigating resources for your Intro to Research Class!  Use the tabs to go specifically to the help you need. This guide will be available the duration of the semester, and is accessible from a computer or mobile device. 

Take the Time

PHYS 108: Introduction to Astronomy: Creating an annotated bibliography

Other How-To Guides

Searching Using Keywords

How to find books

How to find articles

How to Critically Evaluate Sources

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Why make an annotated bibliography?

Creating an annotated bibliography  involves gathering  the most important  sources of information about one's topic. These sources can be used later  as evidence to support an argument or analysis  of a larger research project, like a research essay.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of high-quality sources that you have found about your topic. The list contains sources such as books, articles, and documents that you have found about your research topic.

Annotations are not abstracts

The process in a few easy steps

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

Critically evaluating books, articles, or other types of information

For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see  How to Critically Evaluate Information . For information on an author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical and book review sources.

Citation Styles and Examples of Annotated Bibliographies

Choosing the correct citation style

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's  Citation Management page .

How to write annotated bibliographies tutorials provided by UMGC :

SU Libraries Thanks

This guide was adapted by SU Libraries with permission from    Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. Thanks library folks!  

Manage & Organize Citations

ProQuest RefWorks   is a citation management tool that can help researchers cite sources in all of styles most commonly used at SU like APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, ACS, AMA, and thousands of others. With this tool, researchers can gather, organize, read, annotate, and cite their research sources. Plus, ProQuest RefWorks creates an online collaboration space that enables groups of researchers to work together from any location

Learn more about RefWorks and how to use it .

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Want to create or adapt OER like this? Learn how BCcampus supports open education and how you can access Pressbooks . Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices. -->

Part 2: The research process

2.6 Annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a descriptive and evaluative list of citations for books, articles, or other documents. Each citation is followed by a brief paragraph – the annotation – alerting the reader to the accuracy, quality, and relevance of that source.

Composing an annotated bibliography helps you to gather your thoughts on how to use the information contained in the cited sources, and it helps the reader to decide whether to pursue the full context of the information you provide.

Depending on the purpose of your bibliography, different elements will be more important and some may not be important at all. Your instructor may also have guidelines or be able to talk about priorities.

While an annotation can be as short as one sentence, the average entry in an annotated bibliography consists of a work’s citation information followed by a short paragraph. The annotated bibliography may potentially include:

Your instructor may have specific requirements for what your annotated bibliography should address.

Sample annotated bibliography entry using APA style (Trent University, 2019)

Morey, D. F. (2006). Burying key evidence: The social bond between dogs and people. Journal of Archaeological Science, 33, 158-175. doi:

In this article, Morey documents the widespread human practice of burying domesticated dogs and questions what this practice can reveal about relationships between the two  [This sentence demonstrates the topic of the article] . He argues that dog burials have been more frequent and more consistent than burials of other types of animals, suggesting that humans have invested dogs with spiritual and personal identities. Morey also demonstrates that the study of dog burials can help scholars to more accurately date the domestication of dogs; thus, he challenges scholars who rely solely on genetic data in their dating of domestication to consider more fully the importance of archaeological finds  [The previous 2 sentences explain the article’s argument] . To support his arguments, Morey provides detailed data on the frequency, geographic and historical distribution, as well as modes of dog burials and compares the conclusions he draws from this data to those found by scholarship based on genetic data  [This sentence gives an overview of the method used in the article] . This article is useful to a literature review on the domestication of dogs because it persuasively shows the importance of using burial data in dating dog domestication and explains how use of this data could change assessments of when domestication occurred  [This sentence explains the relevance of the article to the assigned topic] .

Trent University. (2019). How to create an annotated bibliography . Retrieved from


This chapter contains material taken from Annotated Bibliographies by the Laurence McKinley Gould Library  (used under a CC-BY-NC 4.0 International License ) and Annotated Bibliographies by the Western Nevada College Library  (used under a CC-BY 3.0 International license) .

Introduction to Professional Communications by Melissa Ashman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  1. Annotated Bibliography Examples and Guide

    The introduction should include the research topic, the types of sources included, the process used to locate the sources, and any other information related to

  2. Annotated Bibliographies: Writing the introduction

    Your annotated bibliography will be shaped by what you find and what you learn, so it makes sense to write the Introduction when you know

  3. Annotated Bibliography Samples

    Below you will find sample annotations from annotated bibliographies, each with a different research project. Remember that the annotations you include in

  4. Annotated Bibliography Examples & Step-by-Step Writing Guide

    An annotated bibliography is a list of citations followed by a brief summary or analysis of your sources, aka annotations. The annotation gives information

  5. Introduction

    An annotated bibliography is an enhanced list of citations that briefly summarizes each article, book, or other source of information and explains why it is

  6. Sample Annotated Bibliography with Introduction

    To print or download this file, click the link below: application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document icon

  7. Introduction

    An annotated bibliography is often used in academic writing to help guide the research process by presenting a focused selection of sources

  8. GEOG_GEOL4120: Introduction to Research: Annotated Bibliography

    In short, an annotated bibliography is simply a reference list (bibliography) with annotations - or short descriptions about each reference

  9. Introduction to Astronomy: Creating an annotated bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a list of high-quality sources that you have found about your topic. The list contains sources such as books, articles, and

  10. 2.6 Annotated bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a descriptive and evaluative list of citations for books, articles, or other documents. Each citation is followed by a brief