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Creating an Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is made up of two things: a bibliography and annotations.

  • bibliography is a list of sources concerning a particular research topic. These sources could be books, scholarly articles, films, etc. For the bibliography aspect of an annotated bibliography, you will create a citation that matches the 
  • An annotation is the notation that you add to the source citation. After you have taken the time to read through the source, the notation provides a space to add your own thoughts. Generally in an annotation you use the space to:
    • Summarize what the author is saying in their work
    • Assess whether the work illuminates your understanding of the topic and how it fits in with your other sources
    • Reflect on the role the citation has within your own argument

For more information on what an annotated bibliographies, visit Purdue OWL's page on annotated bibliographies.

What is the Purpose of an Annotated Bibliography?

You might be wondering why it is helpful to create an annotated bibliography. When doing research, it is incredibly helpful to have an understanding of the scholarly literature around the topic that you're studying. Here are some reasons why completing an annotated bibliography might be helpful:

  • When you take the time to research your topic and see what other scholars and experts in the field are saying about it, you are better able to situate yourself within the scholarly conversation.
  • By the time that you complete an annotated bibliography, you should be able to have a sense of the prevailing opinions about your research topic.
  • An annotated bibliography will also help you to understand how to incorporate your sources into your research assignment. It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to use a quotation or how a source might push your argument forward. When you take the time to create an annotated bibliography, this process becomes much easier. You'll have a better sense of the sources you've found and how they might be incorporated into your paper or project.

This guide is designed to help you through creating an annotated bibliography. Your first step, though, should be finding your sources. For help with finding academic/scholarly sources, see the library's other guide, How to Use Library Databases.

Once you have found the sources that you would potentially like to use in your paper, you can start to work on your annotated bibliography! Annotated bibliographies follow the format of citation styles. For APA style, click here, and for MLA style, click here.