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Lucy Scribner Library

Annotated Bibliography: Home

What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (may be any variety of materials, books, documents, videos, articles, web sites, CD-ROMs, etc.) with an accompanying paragraph that describes, explains, and/or evaluates each entry in terms of quality, authority, and relevance.

What Is the Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography may serve a number of purposes, including but not limited to:

A review of the literature on a particular subject

Illustrate the quality of research that you have done

Provide examples of the types of sources available

Describe other items on a topic that may be of interest to the reader

Explore the subject for further research

The annotated bibliography may be selective or comprehensive in its coverage. A selective annotated bibliography includes just those items that are best for the topic while an exhaustive annotated bibliography attempts to identify all that is available on a subject.

Organization of an Annotated Bibliography

The organization of the annotated bibliography, if not prescribed by faculty instructions, may be one of various methods, including but not limited to:

Alphabetical

Chronological: either by date of publication or by period of subject matter (century, era, decade, event, year)

By subtopic

By format (articles, books, government documents, media, web pages, etc.)

By language

Citation Format 

The bibliography portion of the annotated bibliography usually follows one of the standard citation formats, APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. Citation format information is available from the library's Cite a Source web page. The most complete citation resources remain in print; copies of the APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, ASA and ACA style guides are available at the reference desk.

For more information ask a reference librarian.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Annotations in an annotated bibliography usually perform two functions, describe the source and evaluate the source. The annotation is a concise description of a particular source, including important aspects of content not evident in the title. It enables the researcher to establish the relevance of a specific journal article, book, research report, or government document, etc. and to decide whether to consult the full text of the work. Abstracts, such as those found in various periodical databases or those accompanying scholarly journal articles are usually just descriptive summaries.

Annotated Bibliography Tutorial

Elements of an Annotation

Information found in an annotation may include:

1. qualifications of author(s);

"Based on 20 years of study, William A. Smith, Professor of English at XYZ University...";

2. purpose/scope:

"...sets out to place John Turner in eighteenth century England and show the development of his philosophy in relation to contemporary social mores";

3. audience and level of reading difficulty:

"Smith addresses himself to the scholar, albeit the concluding chapters on capital punishment will be clear to any informed layman";

4. bias or standpoint of author :

"Turner gears his study more to the romantic aspects of the age than the scientific and rational developments";

5. relationship to other works in the field:

"Here Turner departs drastically from A. F. Johnson (Two will not, New York, Riposte Press, 1964) who not only has developed the rational themes of the eighteenth century but is convinced the romantic elements at best are only a skein through the major prose and poetry";

6. findings, results, and conclusions (if available); and

7. format/special features

(e.g., bibliography, glossary, index, survey instruments, testing devices, etc.).

Adapted from:

Katz, William A., "Annotations" in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (Vol. 1; New York: Marcel Dekker, 1968)

Willams, Owen, "Writing an Annotated Bibliography," University of Minnesota, Crookson Library. Retrieved November 17,2004 "Writing Annotations," University of Toledo Libraries Retrieved November 17, 2004

"Writing an annotated bibliography," Lawrence University, Seeley G. Mudd Library Retrieved November 17, 2004