What is an annotated bibliography essay?

An annotated bibliography indicates a summary of sources and assessment of its relevance and values. It includes:

  • source;
  • usefulness of the source;
  • how the source changed your thinking.

An annotated bibliography helps you in doing independent research. Annotated bibliography comprises a summary of all the sources you used in your research project. These citations are then followed by a short note called annotation that explains the source’s numerous areas, such as summary, evaluation of content, and how your topic has been applied to it well.

Parts of an annotated bibliography

  • Complete citation- including author, title, date, etc;
  • Background of author- experience, expertise, name, etc;
  • Reasons for the work;
  • Scope of the work;
  • Main informative part;
  • Readers;
  • Methods;
  • Their view;
  • Sources;
  • Credibility of source;
  • Conclusion;
  • Features;
  • Pros and cons;
  • Comparison;
  • Personal final verdict.

Types of annotated bibliography

There are three main types, including:

  • Summary

It is further divided into two parts:

  1. Informative
  2. indicative


Comprises the thesis of work, arguments or hypothesis, evidence, and conclusions. They offer a straightforward summary of the project.


It does not provide the real information from the source but general information on what kinds of issues will be covered. For example, chapter titles.


  1. Summary of the content
  2. Explains arguments and evidence in the work
  3. Describe the methodology of the author
  4. Conclusion
  5. Does not evaluate the work

Evaluate annotations

It explains the pros and cons of the sources in terms of quality.


  1. Assess the author critically;
  2. Describe how work is essential to a specific audience;
  3. Describe the usefulness of the material to the project.

Combination annotations

It is a type of annotation that extensively explains the topic and assesses the importance of source and summary. It shows a description of why the research was conducted.

How to write an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography comprises two main points:

  • Bibliography information;
  • Annotation section.

The following are the formats of how the annotated bibliography is written.

Bibliography Information

They comprise all three referencing styles, MLA, APA, and Chicago. Know the reasons and guidelines you are provided before deciding which style you will use. The same rules should be followed on all the other annotated bibliography

How to write:

  • The last name of the author should be on the left and indent the other texts;
  • Write bibliography information before annotation using the given referencing style. Use a hanging indent in writing this information;
  • Write the bibliographic information of the source in APA and MLA format. For example, title, author, publisher, etc.


  • Write them in a paragraph form;
  • Length varies from few sentences to a couple of pages between 100 to 200 words;
  • They should not be long when writing summaries;
  • A lot of space is required when you work extensive analysis;
  • Use of few sentences of generally summarizing and follow it with a couple of sentences of how the work fits well into the project, which can be very important while writing a draft.

Importance of a good annotated bibliography

An annotated bibliography offers you a platform of thinking critically about your research. Whenever assessing each source, you will be able to identify the problems and perspectives of others. It will assist you immensely in developing a reasonable argument. The following are the importance of a good annotated bibliography;

  1. Permits you to trail your reading;
  2. Assist you in thinking about sources relating to your area of research critically;
  3. Helps you to detect problems using certain specific;
  4. Assist in knowing if the source is important to your research;
  5. Assists in justifying the use of a certain source to your readers;
  6. Saves time as it assists you in the planning of the paper;
  7. Helps you think critically and assess the material source.

Examples of annotated bibliography

Lakati, J, & Savara,S, 2009. “Effects of Weather Patterns on Green Plants Survival.” Vol 59, number 6. Pp 541-547

This is the annotated bibliographic information.

  • Content. How weather pattern system can affect the survival of green plants. The mathematical modeling assisted by data from the field as explained and new ways to manage green plants are suggesting.
  • Authors authority. The primary author is a professor of environment at the university and has many publications on plants, environment, and mathematical models. The professor has an apparent authority in the environment and weather patterns.
  • Purpose. To come up with ways of dealing with way plants diseases using a scientific approach.
  • Usefulness. It shows the pros and cons of using mathematical models in predicting changes in weather patterns. Consequences of the result that are practical for farmers to deal with the issue on the field. Provide interventions to be considered scientifically.

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An annotated bibliography is a crucial part of a student’s school life as it helps them write their projects effectively. Students need to know the steps and that makes an annotated bibliography. They should also understand the importance of the annotated bibliography. In this article, we have covered ways to write an excellent annotated bibliography for your assignment, project or other academic materials.

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