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Academic Writing: Annotated Bibliography

This guide provides information about academic writing resources

Annotated Bibliography: ECU Academic Tip Sheet

Annotated bibliography

  • Explains what is meant by an annotated bibliography;
  • Examines how an annotated bibliography differs from a literature review;
  • Describes how annotations differ from abstracts;
  • Looks at the purpose of an annotated bibliography; and
  • Examines the main features of an annotated bibliography.

What is an annotated bibliography?

As defined in the ECU academic tip sheet "Annotated Bibliography":

A bibliography is an organised list of sources (e.g., books, journal articles, electronic sources, etc.) consulted in the research process. Each item listed in a bibliography includes a citation (i.e., author (if given), title, and publication details of the source).


An annotated bibliography is a bibliography with an additional description or evaluation (i.e., annotation) of each source which helps the reader evaluate whether the work cited is relevant to a specific research topic.

What to include in an annotated bibliography

Main features of an annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography should consist of an alphabetical list of sources, each of which contains:

1. The bibliographical details of the source (author’s name, year of publication etc.) given in correct APA end-text referencing format.

2. An annotation is made up of a descriptive and/or evaluative paragraph (generally from 100 to 300 words).

The annotation should be concise and well written. Annotations may include some or all of the information outlined below:

• The main focus or purpose of the work.
• The intended audience for the work.
• The content of the source – e.g., subjects covered; major arguments supported.
• Special features of the work that were unique, helpful or successful;
• Features that are poor and/or the content that is left out.
• The background and credibility of the author.
• Conclusions or observations reached by the author.
• Conclusions or observations reached by you.
• The usefulness or relevance for your research (or why it did not meet your expectations).

Annotated Bibliography Checklist

• Have you identified, located and recorded all the books, journals and other sources required?

• Have you cited each source in the appropriate referencing style?

• Have you written a concise annotation for each source?

• Are your sources listed in alphabetical order?

• Have you submitted the annotated bibliography in the appropriate format?

How to write an annotated bibliography (journal article)

King, J. (2010). How to write an annotated bibliography. Access, 24(4), 34-37.

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