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How to Create an Annotated Bibliography: Home

How-To Guides

Searching Using Keywords

How to find books

How to find articles

How to Critically Evaluate Sources

Explanation, Process, Directions, and Examples


The act of research involves taking a very close look at a topic of interest. 

Creating an annotated bibliography involves gathering the most important sources of information about one's topic. These sources can be used later as evidence to support an argument or analysis in a larger research project, like a research essay.


An annotated bibliography is a list of high-quality sources that you have found about your topic. The list contains sources such as books, articles, and documents that you have found about your research topic.

  • Each source is cited using a citation style (for example MLA, APA, Chicago, etc), and these
  • Each cited source in the list is followed by a brief "annotation" (usually about 150 words) that is a descriptive and evaluative paragraph.
  • Write annotations with your audience in mind; remember, the purpose of the annotation is partly to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. Another purpose is to remind the researcher (you) how you might use the source to support your thesis in a larger, related research project.


 Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority. Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes.

THE PROCESS in a few easy steps

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

  1. Understand the rules that your instructor has provided.
  2. Locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
  3. Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.
  4. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.


For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources. For information on an author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical and book review sources.


Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page.

APA and MLA EXAMPLES OF ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHIES - All examples provided by Diane Hacker:

APA - An annotated bibligraphy of sources on the topic of "Gender differences in Online Communication." 

MLA - An annotated bibliography of sources on the topic of "Online Monitoring: A Threat to Employee Privacy in the Wired Workplace."

SU Libraries Thanks

This guide was adapted by SU Libraries with permission from  Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. Thanks library folks! 

Use Easybib to Create, Manage & Organize Citations

EasyBib Academic Edition

SU Libraries pays for the premium version of Easybib which can help you to create annotated bibliographies in APA, MLA, Chicago, and many more styles. 


1. Go to Easybib using the link above and click the SIGN UP link.Create your account.

2. View the tutorials below to learn how to use Easybib Academic Edition.

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