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How to Research

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated BibliographyThis page will introduce students to annotated bibliographies.

  • Describe what an annotated bibliography is.
  • Annotated bibliography checklist.
  • Practical applications of annotated bibliographies.
  • Sample annotated bibliographies.

Annotated Bibliography Checklist

Questions When Writing an Annotated Bibliography

  • What is the point of this resource?
  • What are the main arguments?
  • What topics are covered?
  • What are the methodologies employed?
  • Is this a useful source?
  • How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?
  • Is the information reliable?
  • Is this source biased or objective?
  • What is the goal of this source?
  • How does this source fit into your research?
  • Was this source helpful to you?
  • How does it help shape your argument?

Source: Purdue: Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Purdue breaks down the term annotated bibliography into its component pieces: bibliography and annotation.

"A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (e.g., author, title, publisher, date, etc.)."

"An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation" of a source.


An annotated bibliography lists resources in alphabetical order using a citation style (e.g., APA, MLA) with a brief annotation that summarizes or evaluates a resource.

  • Start with a regular references list, bibliography, or works cited.
  • Annotations should be one paragraph and between 150 to 250 words.
  • Double space all lines.

Source: Purdue: Annotated Bibliographies

What is an Annotated Bibliography Used For?

Annotated bibliographies are commonly used as the first stage of research in many research projects.

Some of the benefits and uses of annotated bibliographies are as follows:

  • Provides the researcher with in-depth knowledge on a topic.
  • Assists in collecting relevant resources.
  • Makes the researcher read each resource carefully.
  • Beyond just collecting information, the researcher also looks at each resource more critically.
  • Helps the researcher formulate a thesis or research question.
  • Used as a tool to discover what has already been written about the topic, and where your own work can fit.

Adapted from: Purdue: Annotated Bibliographies

Sample Annotated Bibliographies

APA Annotation

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

Lamott, A. (1995). Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic.

In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun. Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

Annotation samples from: Purdue.