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Citation and Writing

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography or Works Cited is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.

Creating an Annotated Bibliography for English

Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:

  • Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
  • Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
  • Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
  • Provide a literature review on a particular subject
  • Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic

To get started:

  • Choose your sources: Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
  • Review the sources: Then review the actual sources and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
  • Write the citation and annotation: When writing your annotation, the complete citation should always come first and the annotation follows. Depending on the type of annotated bibliography you are writing, you will want to include:
    1. The purpose of the work
    2. A summary of its content, including the main ideas and arguments
    3. For what type of audience the work is written
    4. Its relevance to your topic
    5. Any special or unique features about the material
    6. The strengths, weaknesses, or biases in the material


Adapted with permission:

University College Library. "How to Write an Annotated Bibliography." University of Maryland. Accessed January 31, 2014.