Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography?

  • A bibliography is a list of the works cited you used in your paper.
  • An annotation is a summary or an evaluation.
  • An annotated bibliography is a list of sources with accompanying information that describes, explains and/or evaluates each entry.
    • Annotations are notes or summaries that follow the citation. They should be succinct and fairly short.

Before you begin with your annotated bibliography assignment, make sure you know which citation style your instructor requires. Different disciplines use different style guides (i.e., rules for formatting citations). 

Check out this short video about annotated bibliographies: 

Types of Annotations

Annotations can be any of the following types or combinations of them:

  • Descriptive: states the topic of the source only
  • Summary: summarizes the source
  • Evaluative: evaluates the source, which may include placing the work in context of other research or evaluating its usefulness

Elements of Annotations

Annotations may include some or all of these elements:

  • Full citation and publication information
  • Information about the author(s) and their motives
  • Summary of the source
  • Evaluation of the source, including what makes the source useful for your research or for your audience
  • Information about the intended audience of the source, including any potential author bias
  • Context for the source, including how it compares to other sources in the bibliography

Annotation Example

The following brief example is based on MLA citation style. Consult the citation style guides for citation information.


Churchill, Suzanne, and Adam McKible. "Little Magazines and Modernism: An Introduction."

American Periodicals 15.1 (2005): 1-5. JSTOR. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.


Authors Suzanne Churchill and Adam McKible are established researchers of little magazines, having written multiple books and articles on the subject. This academic article serves as an introduction to little magazines and to an issue of American Periodicals devoted to them. As such, it seeks to define little magazines and place them in the context of their time: at the center of modernism. While the article does not necessarily present new scholarship or ideas about the periodicals, it does provide a useful and enthusiastic introduction to them. This article is particularly useful because it seeks to provide a definition for little magazines that is more inclusive than definitions found in other sources.