How to write an annotated bibliography?


An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, Web site or any other type of publication. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

An annotated bibliography is an organised list of sources or citations to books, articles, and documents (like a reference list). Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Annotated bibliography aides’ different purposes, depending on the assignment:

    • Provide a literature assessment on a specific subject
    • Assist to formulate a thesis on a precise subject
    • Establish the research that is accomplished on a particular subject
    • Provide examples of major sources of material easily available on a certain topic
    • Systematically describe items on a topic that maybe of interest to other researchers

Different types of annotated bibliographies
There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:

Descriptive or informative: 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.

Analytical or critical: An analytical or critical annotation summarizes the material and thereafter scrutinised what is being said. The strengths and weaknesses are exhaustively examined of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author’s conclusions to the research being conducted.

Annotation concisely reaffirms the main argument of a source. An annotation of an academic writing usually identifies its research question, or hypothesis, its major methods of investigation, and its main inferences. Reckon the fact that identifying the argument of a source is a different task than describing or listing its contents. Rather than listing contents, an annotation should account for why the contents are there to begin with.

Annotated bibliographies may be arranged alphabetically or chronologically.

To get started
Step by Step guide to writing annotated bibliography for academic writing.

Select sources:  Before writing annotated bibliography, sources should be selected carefully. This would involve doing research like for any other project. Trace records to materials that are pertinent to the selected topic.

Analyse the items selected: Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are also helpful in this process.

Write the citation and annotation: In academic writing the annotation, the complete citation should always come first and the annotation follows thereafter. Depending on the type of annotated bibliography written , the following points should be included:

      1. The objectivity or purpose of the work
      2. A summary of its content
      3. The target audience the work is written for
      4. Its application  to the topic selected
      5. Any special or unique features that are exclusive about the material
      6. Preferences like strengths, weaknesses or any other biases subjected in the material.