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Putting Faith to Work (IN/PE709): Writing an Annotated Bibliography

This topic provides instruction in preparing an Annotated Bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography: What and Why?


  • A bibliography is a list of the sources used when writing a paper. The bibliography is sometimes called "References", depending on the citation style format used.
  • An annotation is a summary and / or evaluation.
  • Hence, an annotated bibliography includes a brief description of each source and a critical evaluation of its quality.

Components of the annotation

  • A summary of the source
  • An assessment / evaluation of the source
  • Your reflection on the source


  • To help scholars identify what has already been written on a topic
  • To demonstrate your ability to select and analyse appropriate sources for your topic

Annotated Bibliographies: An overview

How do I write my Annotated Bibliography?

1. Locate sources and record their citations to sources that may contain useful information for your topic. 

2. Record their citation accurately in correct style format required (Chicago-16)

3. Annotate your bibliography

  • Summary ~ 2 sentences
  • Evaluation ~ 3 sentences
  • Reflection ~ 1 sentence

a. The summary may include:

  • The purpose and scope of the work
  • Brief description of format and content
  • Summary of main arguments
  • The theoretical basis of the argument
  • The author's academic reflections
  • Comparison or contrast with other works cited

b. The evaluation may include:

  • Goal +/- intended audience / reading difficulty
  • Value and significance of the source within the discipline
  • Perspective / point of view of author
  • Assessment of the argument for logic, value of the evidence
  • Possible shortcomings +/- biases, objectivity or subjectivity
  • Advantageous and/or additional features e.g. glossary, appendices, indices

c. The reflection may include: 

  • Why this source is helpful / unhelpful
  • How this source has helped to shape your argument
  • How you can use this source in your assessment
  • Has it contributes to, illuminated or changed your thinking re your topic

4. Helpful Hints!

  • Be critical: Don't simply summarise the article
  • Be brief: Keep to your word limit 
  • Be honest: Don't pad your bibliography with sources that you did not use!
  • The extent to which you incorporate summary, evaluation & reflection will be determined, to some degree, by the word count


DVD Part 1: How do I write my Summary?

DVD Part 2: How do I write my Evaluation & Reflection?

Analysis and Evaluation: Additional Information

Click on the image below to be re-directed to an excellent source which provides further detailed information about the critical analysis in an annotated bibliography. 

Source (With permission): Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University, Ithaca. NY. USA.

Length of an Annotated Bibliography

Please note the following guidelines when determining the length (i.e. word count) of each entry in your annotated bibliography. 

1. The word count does NOT include bibliographic details.

2. The length of each entry depends firstly on the assessment guidelines. 

  • Your assessment requests 10 entries in 1000 words
  • This does NOT imply every entry must be the same length i.e. 100 words. 
  • Rather, some entries may be shorter, e.g. 75 words, and some entries may be longer, e.g. 150 words.

3. The length of each entry WILL vary according to:

  • the type of resources e.g. book, article, web page
  • the relative importance of this resource

4. When considering the various sources you may use:

  • Books will generally require more words than articles
  • Articles will generally require more words than web sources

5. The MOST IMPORTANT indicator of the length of an individual entry is its relative importance OR value it contributes to the bibliography.  (Please consider the samples shown on the page "Analysing Annotated Bibliographies" and their associated comments.

6. Recall that each entry has 3 main sections: summary / evaluation / reflection. In general, the length allocated to each of these sections is determined as follows:

(Click on image to view in more detail.)

  • This may vary especially for a short entry. i.e. a very short entry may have its contents split roughly equally between summary and evaluation.

7. Your general rule of thumb is that within the required / chosen length for each record you MUST show that you understand what the source says and make some comment as to its value.  


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Sources Used

  • "Annotated bibliographies." Purdue Online Writing Labs. Accessed January 15, 2017.
  • "Annotated bibliographies: Introduction." Brandon University. updated September 17, 2020.
  • "Annotated bibliographies: Samples." Purdue Online Writing Labs. Accessed January 5, 2017.
  • "How to prepare an annotated bibliography: The annotated bibliography." Cornell University Library. Updated December 3, 2020.
  • Kuhns, Judy and Tim Bottorf. Rosen Research Guides, Annotated Bibliographies. University of Central Florida STARS Libraries' Documents. Updated January 21, 2020.
  • "Library: How to write an annotated bibliography." The University of British Columbia. Accessed January 22, 2017.
  • Murray, Paul T. The Civil Rights movement: References and Resources. New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1993. Quoted in University of Central Florida. UCF Libraries. "Security services: Annotated bibliographies." Accessed January 5, 2017.
  • "Research & Learning Services." Cornell University Library, Olin & Uris Libraries. Accessed January 5, 2017.
  • "Writing an Annotated bibliography: Annotated bibliographies." Roger Williams University. Accessed January 5, 2017.
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