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How to Research: Annotated Bibliography

This guide is intended as a starting place for doing academic research.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations for article, encyclopedia, web, and book sources. Citations are listed in alphabetical order.**

Each citation is followed by a brief (150, 200, or 300 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph called an annotation. When writing your annotation, the complete citation should always come first and the annotation follows. *Check with your instructor on the annotation length.

Why do we do an annotated bibliography?

The general purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

What to write

General Annotated Paragraph

  1. Explain the main purpose of the work.
  2. Briefly describe the contents.
  3. Indicate the possible audience for the work.
  4. Note any special features (graphics, maps, references).
  5. Warn of any defect, weakness, or suspected bias and evaluate the source.  How effectively does it convey the information?  Why is it a strong source for your topic?  (Or why isn’t it?)

*Your instructor may modify this format to be specific to the needs of the assignment.

MLA 8 Instructional Videos: Citing and Annotated Bibliography

Sample annotated paragraph in MLA format


Albanese, Andrew Richard. "Check It Out: Could the Nomination of the next Librarian of Congress

       Spark a Political Battle?" Publishers Weekly 2015: 18. Edsglr. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

This source is a weekly news magazine that focuses on the international book business.  This article addresses the retirement of the current Librarian of Congress after twenty-eight years.  This position is appointed by the President; there have only been six people in this role since 1900.  The current Librarian of Congress, James Billington age 86, has faced criticism by his peers, such has the Librarian of Harvard, for not embracing the digital revolution and the use of digital technologies.  Another criticism is that the appointed person does not have to be a professional librarian; James Billington was a historian, and there has not been a professional librarian leading the Library of Congress in 61 years.  Leaders of the American Library Association are calling on the President to this time appoint a professional librarian  with experience running a major library, experience in managing digital resources, and one knowledgeable of scholarly research and communication who will move the Library of Congress into the 21st Century.  Due to recent controversies such as the Patriot Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act, this appointment may cause some political controversy.  The audience for this work is anyone working in libraries, follows politics or copyright issues, or is generally interested in the Library of Congress and political appointments.  The article fairly covers the issue, reflecting the potential issues the new Librarian of Congress and the President may face during the appointment process.