How do you write an annotated bibliography?


The theory is the same behind all annotated bibliographies, but the practice may be different for each professor.  Above all: read your assignment instructions!  They may be slightly different from my rough guidelines below. 

In general, annotated bibliographies contain two things:

  1. The full citation, in proper citation format, of each resource you are annotating (e.g. books, articles, websites, etc).
  2. One paragraph (or “annotation”) of each source, underneath the full citation.

What should be included in your annotations?  This is where your professors may disagree.  But commonly students are asked to include:

  1. A VERY brief description of the resource’s content.  This is often just 1-2 sentences summarizing the main argument of the source.
  2. A critique of the source.  Things you could look at:
    • Currency
    • Author credentials
    • Author Bias/Perspective/Holes in their argument
    • Bibliography/References used by the author
    • Comparison between this source and the other ones in your annotated bibliography
    • Overall assessment of strengths and weaknesses
  3. A description of how your source is useful for your assignment.  This could include how this resource contributes to your overall understanding of your topic

Again, the above three points are usually done in just one paragraph.

Here are some super helpful links and handouts on writing annotated bibliographies:

Need help practicing your annotations?  Here is a worksheet from a past Brescia Foods and Nutrition class:

Some sample annotated bibliographies to get you started: