Annotated Bibliography

What Is An Annotated Bibliography? 

According to C. Hugh Holman’s A Handbook to Literature, fifth edition (R 803 T411n 1986), an annotated bibliography is “a list of works dealing with a given subject or subjects … in which some or all of the items listed are followed by brief description or critical comment.” The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Writing Center offers an elaboration on that definition by stating that “an annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources, each of which is followed by a brief note or “annotation,” which does one or more of these things:

  • describe the content and focus of the book or article
  • suggest the sources’s usefulness to researchers
  • evaluate the source’s method, conclusions, or reliability
  • record the writer’s (i.e., your) reactions to the source

You should check with your instructor and/or the assignment specifics to determine which of these things your annotated bibliography should include.

Is There Useful Information About Annotated Bibliographies?
You will probably find that it is difficult, at best, to find books about writing annotated bibliographies in the library’s catalog (eLibrary). Therefore, you may decide to search the web for educational institutions that have posted definitions, descriptions, and examples of annotated bibliographies on their webpages. Our suggestion would be for you to go to Google, the web’s most efficient search engine, and type in the following, spaces and quotation marks included:

“annotated bibliography” example site:.eduThis will return some 29,500 hits, but by adding more terms to your search, such as evaluative, you will get fewer hits (1620 to be exact).

We’ve done you the favor of finding a couple of sites that offer topic suggestions. This is a preliminary list and it will grow as time permits, so keep checking back for updates. Our suggested sites, as of April 19, 2004, are as follows:

The Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin at Madison offers links to the following information:

  • How do I format the bibliographical citations?
  • What goes into the content of the annotations?
  • Which writing style should I use in the annotations?
  • How can I get additional information?

The Gateway to Cornell University Library contains five links which answer FAQs about annotated bibliographies:

  • What is an annotated bibliography?
  • How does an annotation differ from an abstract?
  • What is the writing process?
  • How do I critically appraise the book or article?
  • How do I choose the correct format for my citations?