Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliographies are a valuable part of the research process.  They provide you a place to collect information and to write about how you may use that information in your paper.  They are, in a matter of speaking, a formal type of note card.

Simply put, an annotated bibliography is a collection of sources around a particular topic of interest with each source containing a summary (annotation) of its content.  It is important to follow your instructor’s guidelines for such an assignment as there is a broad range of ways one can approach constructing such a collection.  Some annotated bibliographies are a collection of many sources, sometimes hundreds of sources, with a one or two sentence annotation; others will have annotations that are several paragraphs or even several pages.  Typically, an annotated bibliography provides the source citation as it would appear in a bibliography and then a paragraph or two summarizing the information in the source.  Some bibliographies will analyze the source as well in terms of its value to the research.  The Purdue OWL explains this approach in more detail here along with providing some examples here.

The University of North Carolina’s writing center also provides a comprehensive overview of Annotated Bibliographies.

Because of the multiple ways one can approach constructing an annotated bibliography, remember to follow the assignment guidelines provided by your instructor.


Carnegie Vincent Library. (2012, April 18). Annotated Bibliographies: An Illustrated Guide [Video file]. Retrieved from

Champlain College Library. (2012, February 2). What’s an Annotated Bibliography? [Video file]. Retrieved from

APA article citation followed by an annotation. Annotation says: this extensively revised edition presents Bruffee’s argument regarding the necessity to redefine authority, teaching, and theories of knowledge construction in the university. He presents his approach, a model of collaborative learning based on a social constructionist theory of knowledge. The book is divided into two parts: the first defines the approach, explaining how and why it works. Included in this section is a model of collaborative learning (as distinguished from cooperative learning), an explanation of the role of writing in collaborative learning (and the role of collaborate learning in teaching writing), and a discussion of how colleges can institutionalize collaborative learning through peer tutors. The second part discusses university education from the perspective of the institution, explaining how in the past institutional concepts of knowledge have negatively affected not only education but also research. Writing plays a central role in collaborative learning because it relies upon interdependence— the ongoing conversations, verbal and print, that create and sustain knowledge within communities and academic disciplines. From this perspective, all writing is argumentative because it is a process of knowledge construction that is negotiated between people. It is simultaneously a communal act that requires a keen awareness of the “language games” that are acceptable in different communities and a tool that can be used to alter those communities.

Annotated Bibliography example from Argument in Composition by Ramage, Callaway, Clary-Lemon & Waggoner