An annotated bibliography, also called "References" or "Works Cited" is a list of citations for books, articles, and other materials used in a narrow research topic. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually under 150 words) annotation. The annotation will inform the reader of the relevancy, accuracy, scope, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotation versus Abstract

Abstracts are descriptive summaries. Annotations can move beyond descriptions by proving explanations and critical content. The process of creating an annotated bibliography can be used to explore a subject area.

The process of creating an annotated bibliography includes locating resources, reading them, and considering their content provides insight to the topic, various perspectives, and ideas for creating a thesis for research.

Choosing Citations for Your BIbliography

Defining the scope or extent of research helps in determining what resources to include in an annotated bibliography. What is the problem/question being investigated? What types of resources are required? Who is the audience?


Annotations may:

  • Describe the content and focus of the resource
  • Indicate the value of the resource in the research
  • Evaluate methods, data, and/or conclusions
  • Provide reaction to the resource
  • Provide the scope and quality of available research
  • To review the literature published on a particular topic 



A bibliography is an alphabetical list of the books, articles, websites, and other materials on a narrow topic that are used in scholarly work . The content information varies by citation style but usually includes the information needed to identify the resource (the citation.). Generally the author(s), publication date, and publisher or publication information are included. Other components vary with the citation style used.

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography adds information, 50-150 words, after the citation in the bibliography that describes (an overview), evaluates (an analysis), and/or informs (data or a theory) the reader about the specific work.


The format and terminology used in the annotated bibliography, References, or Works Cited depends upon the citation format used.