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Writers' Resources: Annotated Bibliography

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An annotated bibliography is a selected list of citations to resources such as articles or books.

Each citation is accompanied by a brief description and critical assessment of the resource.


Your professor may offer specific instructions on how to format an annotated bibliography and what should be the special characteristics of the annotations. However, most annotated bibliographies have the following common format:

  • An organized list of citations, using a consistent standard format (ALA, MLA, Turabian, etc.).
  • An annotation following each citation. The annotation is usually no more than 150 words (or 4-6 sentences long) and does not have to be written in complete sentences. Depending on your assignment, annotations may include some or all of the following information:

    • A brief statement describing the main focus of the work
    • A brief statement about the author's credentials
    • An explanation of the intended audience
    • An explanation of why the work did or did not meet expectations
    • Special features of the work that are unique or helpful

Search Tips

Preparing a good annotated bibliography requires good searching.  Here are some tips.

  • To find journal articles, look carefully at the list of databases that relate to your discipline, and try searching the ones that seem most relevant to your topic. 
  • To locate books, search either the library catalog or WorldCat.
  • When searching these databases, use Boolean operators such as AND and OR.
  • Use a truncation symbol, usually an asterisk (*), to display results having variant forms of words.  For example,  parent* will return results which include parents, parenting and parental
  • As your gather citations, use the database's management tools for creating and emailing them for use in your bibliography.


To locate examples of published annotated bibliographies, type the phrase "annotated bibliography" into the search box for the online catalog or a specialized database. Several entries will appear. Review the full-text to read sample annotations such as these.

MLA style:

Sample MLA Formatted Annotated Bibliography  (California State U - Northridge)

APA style:

Sample APA Formatted Annotated Bibliography    (OWL:  Purdue Online Writing Lab)

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