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Annotated Bibliography

This guide is focused on annotated bibliographies, without regard to a particular assignment or citation style. Consult your instructor for specific expectations.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought."  -Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography has two major components.

  • The bibliography is an alphabetical listing of citations (sources) you have used during the research and writing process.
  • An annotation follows each citation, providing specific information about that source. 

Annotated bibliographies are part of the research process. Within a research assignment, you have

  • selected a topic,
  • explored the topic with background information,
  • developed a thesis statement or research question based on reading information gathered from multiple expert and/or scholarly sources.
  • Now it's time to organize, evaluate and synthesize the sources within an annotated bib.


  • Alphabetized sources
  • Double-spaced both citation and annotation (MLA, APA).
    • CMOS: single-space the citation.
  • Hanging indent: only the first line of the citation touches the left margin. Everything else is indented.
  • Use the samples for correct citation format

The annotation is a descriptive paragraph about the source of three to six sentences. Check your assignment for the purpose of these sentences and a maximum word count.


The annotated bibliography is a tool.  As you create the document, you are:

  • thinking critically about the content of the works you are using.
  • asking if the information is useful. 
  • proving you have read and understand your subject.
  • affirming the information is authoritative or trustworthy. 
  • creating a framework for the writing process.


Quotation marksThere tend to be three major audiences for annotated bibliographies: the authors of the annotations, instructors, and other researchers. Many people find it useful to craft an annotated bibliography while researching topics.

Professional researchers often begin their survey of research by finding annotated bibliographies on a  topic that interests them.

- This description of audience was adapted from the document below as developed by English  Professor Kristie Boston, Spring 2022.-