Skip to Main Content

Annotated Bibliography

A how to guide on annotated bibliographies

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is type of expanded bibliography, a list of books, articles, films, and works of literature used in your research. The annotated bibliography adds descriptive and evaluative comments (i.e., an annotation), assessing the nature and value of the cited works. The addition of commentary provides the future reader or researcher essential critical information and a foundation for further research. The annotated bibliography is a step on the way to your final academic essay.

The annotated bibliography for a literary topic includes a citation and an annotation, a summary and analysis, for each source that you use.

Sometimes an annotated bibliography will also include an introductory paragraph orienting your reader to your topic and what you have set out to do in your research.

How do you write an annotated bibliography?

You may ask yourself questions about the source in order to write a good annotation for it. These questions might include:

  1. What are the main points of the book or article?
  2. What is your assessment of the resource? Do you agree or disagree?
  3. What are the limitations of the work?
  4. How does this resource compare to others on the same topic? What are the similarities and/or differences?
  5. What connections can you make between this resource and other perspectives on the topic?
  6. Did you learn something new from this source that you hadn't thought of or read from another source?
  7. Who wrote or is responsible for the work? What are their qualifications? 
  8. Why is the content useful? For what? Who is it for? Is the content complete and thorough?  If not, what is missing?

Look at the "Samples" page to see examples of what your annotated bibliography might look like.

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Watch this video by Carleton University Library on YouTube to learn more about writing an annotated bibliography.