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Annotated Bibliographies: What Is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of useful resources on a specific topic, similar to a bibliography at the end of a paper. The difference with an annotated bibliography is that each source listed also includes an annotation (brief commentary) of about 150 words. Depending on the field of study, an annotated bibliography may contain annotations that are descriptive (tell about a source) or critical (give an opinion about a source), or both. Annotations might include, for example:

  • a brief summary of the source
  • a description of its strengths, weaknesses and usefulness to you
  • a description of how it compares with other research in the field
  • information about the author's background


What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography should help to answer the question: "What are the most relevant and useful sources I can find for my chosen topic?"

Given as a class assignment, an annotated bibliography can:

  • help you to engage and become familiar with other written work on a particular topic
  • form the basis of a research bibliography for a large project
  • help you to keep track of what you have read, which sources you found useful and why
  • help you formulate a thesis on a topic
  • show that you have have done your research and used critical thinking skills


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