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Library Research E-Textbook - Instructor Version: Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography: Introduction & Goals

The Cornell University Library has defined an annotated bibliography as: "a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited."
For an annotated bibliography assignment, you will prepare a descriptive list of your research sources.
The annotated bibliography should:
  • Use MLA style (or other style approved by your instructor to format sources
  • List sources in alphabetical order
  • Include sources related to your research topic
  • Include an annotation, or description, of each source (more on that below.)

Watch this introductory video, which explains what an annotated bibliography is in other words:

Let's Break This Down Even Further

What's a bibliography?

A bibliography is a formatted list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc) in alphabetical order on a topic.

Each entry in an annotated bibliography is formatted like a works cited page in a paper. For more details about what those citation should look like, review the Citing Sources section of this E-Textbook.

What's an annotation?

Simply put, an annotation is a short summary of the source in your own words, followed by a statement on how the source is useful for your research. An annotated bibliography tells your reader about the source listed (summarizing its main arguments and how it fits in our previously discussed Information Life Cycle) and then explains why it's included on the list (summarizing why it matters for your project).

For an annotated bibliography assignment, you'll generally be expected to write:

    1. Two to three sentences summarizing the source and evaluating the source for currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy or purpose (see Evaluation for more on that);
    1. Two to three sentences explaining why the source is useful for your paper and how it deepens your understanding or changes your thinking on your topic.

How do I put them together?

Your annotated bibliography should look like the Works Cited page from your paper with the addition of a short paragraph added to each entry.

If you're still unsure, check out this example from The University of Central Florida Libraries Annotated Bibliographies guide:

Instructor Notes

This tab does not exist in the student version of the E-Textbook.  This module was created as a general class assignment -- the annotated bibliography.

Students appreciate the scaffolding of their research/writing process. Instead of leaving research to the last minute, requiring students to dive into their sources early in a project can help develop their understanding and refine their thinking. It is recommended to have students submit an annotated bibliography approximately two weeks prior to the due date of a final project. In this way, the instructor can review and give feedback on student's sources, providing guidance and formative feedback.

Annotated bibliography prompt

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.

Self assessment

Share this self assessment with students along with the annotated bibliography assignment prompt. Ask students to complete this self assessment when they submit the annotated bibliography and explain the value of self assessment.

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.