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Annotated Bibliography: Steps to Create an Annotated Bibliography

Citation Style LibGuides

1) Locate Materials on Your Topic

Select a topic you can manage in the timeframe you have to complete your project. Narrow down the topic if it is too broad.

Locate books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.

  • Briefly examine and review the actual items.
  • Select those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic for inclusion in your annotated bibliography.

2) Cite Materials

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style required by your instructor - APA, MLA, Chicago.

3) Write Annotation

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Check with your instructor on the type of annotation you are required to write. The two basic types are descriptive and evaluative annotations. The annotation is usually 50 - 15- words. 

Descriptive annotations (also known as "informative" annotations) provide only a summary of the author's main ideas. Descriptive annotations are typically two to three sentences long and describe the content but include no critical remarks evaluating the source’s quality. 

Descriptive annotations may include the following types of information:

  • The main purpose of the work
  • Intended audience of the work
  • Background or credibility of the author
  • The conclusion or results of the work

Evaluative annotations (also known as "critical" annotations) summarize the essential ideas in a document and provide judgments—negative, positive, or both—about their quality. Evaluative annotations are typically three to four sentences long. Evaluative annotations usually begin with broad comments about the focus of the source then move to an evaluation of the source.

Evaluative annotations may contain the following type of information:

  • The importance of the work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • The author’s bias or tone
  • The author’s qualifications for writing the work
  • The accuracy of the information in the source
  • Limitations or significant omissions
  • The work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • Comparison with other works on the topic

Subject Guide

Research Help

Locate Resources for your Discipline

Get started with the Library's Research LibGuides which provide access to books, articles, Internet sites, media, and statistics on a variety of topics.

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