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English 105 - College Writing: Annotated Bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography includes citations with descriptive and evaluative information about each source listed.

Descriptions should be brief (100-150 words, unless otherwise specified by your instructor) and should communicate the accuracy, relevancy, and appropriateness of the source in regard to your paper or assignment.

An annotated bibliography may also be called an Annotated List of Works Cited.

To write an annotation, it is necessary to read MORE than just the source title and abstract.

An abstract from the author or publisher may be included; however, additional information about the source should be provided in your own words.

Annotation Types

A descriptive annotation may summarize:

  • The main purpose or idea of the work
  • The contents of the work
  • The author’s conclusions
  • The intended audience
  • The author’s research methods
  • Special features of the work such as illustrations, maps, tables, etc.

Descriptions from UMKC Libraries, used with permission.

A critical annotation includes value judgments or comments on the effectiveness of the work. In this context, critical means evaluative and may include both positive and negative comments. A critical annotation may contain the information found in a descriptive annotation and discuss some of the following features:

  • The importance of the work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • The author’s bias or tone
  • The author’s qualifications for writing the work
  • The accuracy of the information in the source
  • Limitations or significant omissions
  • The work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
  • Comparison with other works on the topic

Descriptions from UMKC Libraries, used with permission.

The following annotation is just a general example. Students should be alert and follow specific requirements that might vary with each professor’s assignment or to the course discipline.


Sample Topic: The Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing on Ground Water

 Urbina, Ian. "A Tainted Water Well, And Concern There May Be More." The New York Times. (August 4, 2011 Thursday ):  LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/09/24.  Annotation: This article identifies government agencies and industries that have done studies on the environmental effects of fracking, such as the EPA, Environmental Working Group and the American Petroleum Institute. One EPA official mentions that because of legal issues, it is difficult to access reports; this factor could be important in obtaining accurate information. The article also identifies ongoing conflicts between companies that want to use fracking and environmental groups and individuals that oppose it.


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