An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:
  • Summarize: What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered?
  • Assess: Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others.

  • Use the third person – do not use “I”, “me”, or “my.”
  • Use the literary present tense. Examples:
  1. “This article discusses…”
  2. “In this article the author supports…”
  3. “This book gives a detailed view on…”
  4. “This article describes…”
  • The annotations for each source follow its citation and are written in paragraph form.
  • All of the text of the annotation is indented so that the author’s name is the only text that is flush left.
  • The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly.
  • You should always ask your teacher for specific guidelines.

The benefits of writing an annotated bibliography:
To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. When you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information.

To help you formulate a thesis: The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic.

Examples from the Purdue Online Writing Lab: