This is the "About Annotations" page of the "Annotated Bibliographies" guide.
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Annotated Bibliographies  

Last Updated: Feb 3, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

About Annotations Print Page

How is an Annotated Bibliography different?

A bibliography lists the books, articles, blog posts, and websites you've cited in your paper.

An abstract or summary describes, generally without critiquing, a book or paper.

An annotation to an article analyzes, critiques and places the work in the larger context of scholarly communication.

An annotated bibliography evaluates the best, most interesting, most appropriate or most cutting edge works on a particular topic.

Links to Guides


Thank you

Much of this content provided (with permission) by:

Merrie Davidson
Social Sciences Librarian
University of St. Thomas


Vanessa Earp
Education Librarian
Kent State University


Why write an annotated bibliography? Why did your professor assign it?

  • For yourself: Help you analyze the books and papers you have found on your topic in preparation for your own paper or literature review.

  • For your professor: Let him or her know what your progress has been on your research and the intellectual path you've taken.

  • For others: Guide other students and researchers to the best and most appropriate books, articles, blogs, and websites on your topic.

DO's and DON'Ts



  • Summarize the central theme/scope of the article
  • Explain how this resource ties into the purpose or idea of your project
  • Do include information on the author


  • Do not write a "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" review
  • Do not skim the article, read it carefully before writing
  • Do not plagiarize
  • Do not copy and paste the abstract

Type 1: Informative/Descriptive Annotation

Descriptive Annotated Bibliographies only require you to summarize the source, letting the reader know the most interesting or important aspects of the book.

Write out the citation, following the appropriate style guide (APA, MLA, or Chicago, etc.)

Summarize the source.


Type 2: Evaluative/Critical Annotations

Start with a short summary of the article: 1 or 2 sentences.

Then give information that places the resource within the scholarly context or evaluates its usefulness or quality.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and to answer in your annotation. You only need to address 1 or 2 for each annotation. Choose one that applies to the source you're looking at.

  • Who is the author? What are his/her qualifications?

  • How does this source address similar questions in other sources?

  • Who is the intended audience? Is it you?

  • Is this a seminal article that everyone who writes on this topic reads? Has it been cited many times in the literature?

  • Does the evidence support the author's conclusions?

  • What is missing in the author's argument or research?

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the source?

  • How do you intend to use this source in your paper?

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