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Write an annotated bibliography

Tips for any type of annotated bibliography

Reading over your sources

Writing your annotations

  • Books and articles aren't people. Say "The authors argue..." instead of "This book / article argues..."
  • Try not to start every annotation with "This book.." or "This article..."
  • Be specific. Instead of "This book is good." try something like, "This book will be useful in my research because it presents a different view than the rest of my sources."
  • Use active verbs when possible - here are a few that might be especially useful:
    • Argue
    • Assert
    • Demonstrate
    • Indicate
    • Conclude
    • Distinguish
    • Identify
    • Illustrate
    • Assess

Types of annotated bibliographies

Descriptive annotations

A descriptive annotation is simply a summary of the work you just read. Here are a few questions to answer in your annotations:

  • What was the authors' main purpose in writing this?
  • Were the authors trying to make a specific argument? If so, what evidence did they provide to support that argument?
  • If this is relevant to your topic: what methods did the authors use to test their hypotheses?
  • Did the authors identify specific themes in their research?
  • What were the authors' conclusions?

Critical / evaluative annotations

A critical annotation requires you to make a judgment or evaluation of the source. Here are a few questions you may want to address in your annotations:

  • What are the authors' qualifications? 
  • Is the publisher reputable? (If you're not sure, ask your professor or a librarian.) 
  • Are there any obvious biases in the authors' writing? 
  • How does this source build on (or argue against) other sources on the same topic?

Your professor may also want you to talk about how each source relates to your research. Here are a few more questions to ask yourself:

  • Was this source helpful?
  • How did it / will it help you to shape your argument?
  • Did it change how you think about your topic?
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