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Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies: What are they, and how do I compile one?

An annotated bibliography is a list of complete, accurate citations to books, journal or encyclopedia articles, Web sites, interviews, or other sources. Each citation should be followed by an annotation. The annotation is a brief, carefully written paragraph that evaluates and describes the source, and its usefulness for your research.

How to compile an annotated bibliography:

  • Determine which aspects of your topic will be covered in the bibliography.
  • Ask your instructor which documentation style you should use
  • Ask your instructor whether the citations and annotations should be arranged alphabetically or chronologically
  • Locate appropriate sources
    • Carefully examine the item. Make sure the source contributes to the topic.
    • Mention how the source pertains to the topic – for instance” “Although this is an older source it is a classic in the field and served as the basis for subsequent research.”
  • Write the annotation. If your are writing a critical annotation ask these questions:
    • Purpose: what is the source trying to accomplish?
    • Audience: who is expected to use this material – is it geared to a novice or an expert? Is it a scholarly or popular treatment of the topic?
    • Authority: what evidence of authority is given for the author? Who is the publisher Are there endnotes or a bibliography?
    • Currency: Is the material up to date? Does that matter?
    • Coverage: is the topic treated in a comprehensive or general manner?
    • Ease of use: how is the source organized? Is there an informative introduction? Are there special features?
    • Your opinion: What is your reaction to the source?