Skip to main content

Creating an Annotated Bibliography: Home

What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

-An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents.

-Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation.

-The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Why Should I Write One?

1. To learn about your research topic- they help you think critically instead of just collect sources, and see how your research might fit into the overall scholarship.

2. To help other researchers- published annotated bibliographies provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic

What Do They Do?

 Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.

  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. 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: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. 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?

The Process

1. Locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic.

2. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

3. Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style. Check out our pages for both AMA and APA styles.

4. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.


Bisignani, D., Brizee, A. (2013). Annotated Bibliographies. Retrieved from

Blumenthal, A., Cosgrave, T., & Engle, M. (2012). How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography. Retrieved from

Subject Guide

Alexandra Gomes
Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library
2300 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Website / Blog Page

The Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library
Questions? Ask us.
Creative Commons License
All LibGuides by Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library are licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The George Washington University