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Literature-Based Research: Annotated Bibliography

Need help with your literary research? This guide can help!

Annotated Bibliographies - The Basics

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents prepared in a required citation style such MLA or APA format.  Each citation is followed by a brief (typically between 100 - 150 words) descriptive paragraph which summarizes, describes, and/or critically evaluates the source.

Why prepare an annotated bibliography?

Writing an annotated bibliography is a great way to prepare for writing a research paper. It can help you evaluate whether a particular source is appropriate for inclusion into your research paper

What should I include?

Each entry in an annotated bibliography must begin with the citation of a source you are considering for your research paper.  This should be followed by a paragraph about the source. 

Annotation paragraphs may include the following elements: 

  • a brief description of the author's credentials, purpose, and intended audience
  • a brief summary of the content including conclusions or observations reached by the author
  • comments about the work's usefulness or relevance to your research topic, usually including conclusions or observations reached by you
Check with your instructor as to whether there are particular parameters s/he would like you to include. 
What should it look like?
  • Each entry in an annotated bibliography must consist of two parts: a citation (sometimes called a bibliography line) in the style required by your instructor and an annotation paragraph (summary, description, analysis). 
  • The entries are typically organized alphabetically by the bibliography information (such as author last name or book title). Annotated bibliographies may also be categorized by subject, material type, time period, etc.
  • Typically, the summary paragraphs will be indented, so that only the citation is flush left.  Check with your instructor as to whether you should indent the first line of the annotation paragraph an additional four spaces.

See below for sample annotated bibliographies.


Sample Annotated Bibliographies

Sample Annotated Bibliographic Entries (MLA)

Sample Annotated Bibliographic Entry (APA)

(Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007).)

(Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007).)



Additional Annotated Bibliography Samples:


This materials on this page have been adapted, in part, from the following:

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: Adapted with permission from Olin Library Reference. Research & Learning Services , Cornell Univ. Library, Ithaca, NY)

Annotated Bibliographies: Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Writing an Annotated Bibliography: California Polytechnic State University

Annotated Bibliographies: University of Central Florida Libraries