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Collecting Sources and Annotating them: Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography and Why is it Important?

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

It is an organized, annotated ('with notes') list of resources. It includes all of the books, articles, reports, and other types of resources that you read for your project.

Here is a great handout from the UNC writing center on writing an Annotated Bibliography:

Why Wouldn't I Just Copy/Paste the Abstract?

The abstract of an article or book is just a summary of the contents. For an annotated bibliography, you want to describe the main points and evaluate the content, structure, or conclusions. You may also consider how useful or relevant it is to your research topic.

Why Would I Want an Annotated Bibliography?

Will you remember every detail from the articles, reports, and books that you read? If so, that's great for you! But for the rest of us, it's handy to have a bit of a reminder while we're writing the paper

Annotated Bibliography Elements


  • Key points, conclusions, or recommendations

  • Surprising or interesting findings


  • May include questions related to:

    • Author bias, Scope, Structure, Conclusions, Methodology, Relevance, Timeliness


  • How does this inform my project?

  • Is it useful? If so, what section of my project is it most applicable?

Tips for Writing an Annotated Bilbiography

Begin the annotation with an introductory sentence explaining what the resource is; do not copy and paste the abstract. Maybe you can include something about the author’s research methods. Annotations can be 1-3 paragraphs, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you want this to be useful for you as you continue your research.

Ask yourself:
  • Is it outdated? 
  • Is there a clear bias?
  • Does it do an excellent job of organizing the information
  • Was there something in this study that was particularly interesting or surprising?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the conclusion or any information in the content?
Remember that when you are in the middle of writing your paper, this annotated bibliography will help refresh your memory and organize your research. Finally, in the last part of your annotation, you could discuss how this specific resource is relevant or useful for you and your final paper.



Annotated bibliography includes: citation, main idea or scope, description of the work (format, content, glossary, appendix, preface), a sentence referring to the authority of the author, intended audience, value it brings to your topic, bias found in the work, your assessment or evaluation of the work. ExampleL Graybosch, A., Scott, G.M. & Garrison, S. (1998).The Philosophy Student Writer's Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.   Designed to serve as either as a writing guide or as a primary textbook for teaching philosophy through writing, the Manual is an excellent resource for students new to philosophy. Like other books in this area, the Manual contains sections on grammar, writing strategies, introductory informal logic and the different types of writing encountered in various areas of philosophy. Of particular note, however, is the section on conducting research in philosophy. The research strategies and sources of information described there are very much up-to-date, including not only directories and periodical indexes, but also research institutes, interest groups and Internet resources.

Example is taken from Roger Williams University using APA format.