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Citation Help: Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of citations for sources (books, articles, etc.) consulted on a particular topic in which each source citation is followed by a brief evaluative description of the source. 

How do I create an annotated bibliography?

Creating your annotated bibliography is actually quite simple. 

1. Identify and review sources that will be useful for your project and record their citation information in the proper citation format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

2. Write a concise annotation that evaluates and summarizes the main points and scope of each resource you will be using.

3. Explain how the source fits with your specific topic.

It really is that simple!


Tips for creating a strong annotation:

  • Strong annotations include most, if not all, of the following:
    • Explanation of the main purpose and scope of the cited work;
    • Brief description of the work's format and content;
    • Theoretical basis and currency of the author's argument;
    • Author's intellectual/academic credentials;
    • Work's intended audience;
    • Value and significance of the work as a contribution to the subject under consideration;
    • Possible shortcomings or bias in the work;
    • Any significant special features of the work (e.g., glossary, appendices, particularly good index);
    • Your own brief impression of the work.
    • Annotations are meant to be original work and show that you have evaluated your sources. Simply including an abstract or summary from the source itself is not only not an annotation, it's plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty.

Annotated Bibliography Examples

Examples of Well-Crafted Annotated Bibliographies:

The following examples use APA format for a journal and a book citation:

Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among

            young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Graybosch, A., Scott, G.M. & Garrison, S. (1998).The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Designed to serve as either as a writing guide or as a primary textbook for teaching philosophy through writing, the Manual is an excellent resource for students new to philosophy. Like other books in this area, the Manual contains sections on grammar, writing strategies, introductory informal logic and the different types of writing encountered in various areas of philosophy. Of particular note, however, is the section on conducting research in philosophy. The research strategies and sources of information described there are very much up-to-date, including not only directories and periodical indexes, but also research institutes, interest groups and Internet resources.

Examples of What Your Bibliography Should Not Look Like:
Marieb, Elaine N. (1992).Human Anatomy and Physiology Redwood City, CA: The Benjamin/ Cummings Co.

I use this book to get the basic information about arthritis, it was very informative.

Keefe FJ., (1996) Pain in Arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 24, 279-290.

I got all the facts about exercising with arthritis and the different types of exercise.


Content for this libguide came from: 

Olin Library Reference Research & Learning Services at Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Roger Williams University Library at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI, USA.

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