Annotated Bibliography

What is it?

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals) that a writer has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "references" or "works cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.). An annotated bibliography includes additional information about each source — often summaries or reviews of the work. This additional information is called an annotation.

The entries for each source in your annotated bibliography will include:

  1. the bibliographic citation
  2. followed by a summary
  3. an evaluation
  4. and a reflection.

Your annotations need to:


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? Your summaries should be detailed, but not overly wordy. Be thorough and concise. It is possible.


Evaluate the source. Is it useful? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal or purpose of this source? Evaluate each source using the Modified CRAAP Test.


Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how yourself what you really think of it. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your understanding of an issue? Has it changed how you think about this topic? Which parts do you agree with and which parts do you disagree with? Play the Believing and Doubting Game.

Believing Questions

  • Which parts do I agree with?
  • What underlying values or beliefs do I share with this source's author?
  • How does the argument relate to my life?

Doubting Questions

  • Which parts do I disagree with?
  • What are the speaker's or writer's biases (bias in this sense means "to show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something")?
  • What does the argument overlook? What questions are left unanswered?

The Believing and Doubting game, developed by a writing professor named Peter Elbow, helps you think more carefully about how you relate to an argument as an individual reader.

Why write an annotated bibliography?

To learn about your topic.
Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for constructing a source-based argument. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read and evaluate each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information.

It can also help you formulate a thesis. A very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.


The bibliographic information
The bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) needs to be written in MLA format and be listed in your document in alphabetical order. For help with formatting, consult the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

The annotations
The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form just beneath the bibliographic citation. You will need to write three paragraphs about each source — first the summary, then the evaluation, then the reflection.

Number of entries required
For this project you will need to annotate four sources. The first of these sources we will tackle as a class, the rest will be sources you find related to the non-profit for which you would like to advocate.

Other constraints

  • Start a new page on your wiki name page titled Annotated Bibliography followed by your name.
  • Each bibliographic citation should be heading level 1 or 2.
  • The register of this needs to be formal and academic and written in Standard Edited American English.

Examples from one of my college comp classes (these are lengthier than yours will need to be, but the format is the same):

This project is due on Tuesday, June 28.
Use your class time wisely. Have it done on time.

Things you might want to have at the bottom of your page to make your life easier…

[* Purdue OWL]
2nd paragraph: 
[* Modified CRAAP test]
3rd paragraph: [* Believing and Doubting Game]
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