Skip to main content
Banner Image

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography: Annotated Bibliography

This guide explains how to write an annotated bibliography.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • How does this resource fit into my topic?
  • Is the author a reliable source?
  • What are the strengths of this resource?
  • What are the weaknesses of this resource?
  • Who is the intended audience?

For Further Information:


Information used with permission under the Creative Commons Common Deed by:

Olin Library Reference
Research & Learning Services
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY, USA

Purdue University's OWL is used with permission.

What is an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of resources (journal articles, books, dissertations, websites, etc.) that are cited in proper format (APA, MLA, or Turabian).  The resources focus on a specific topic.  The annotations summarize, evaluate, and critique each resource.  The bibliography is organized by a specific format such as date, topic, or in alphabetical order.  The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to evaluate sources in a specific area of study. 

Typically, the annotations are around 150 words, but can vary in length depending on the purpose and scope of the project.  Include in the annotations information about the author, the intended audience, a brief summary of the work, and an evaluation of the resource including positive and negative aspects. 

Annotated bibliographies prepare researchers for further study in the field.  They also tell readers about the literature and research that has already been published. 


Martin, C. (2001). The organization of the cataloguing function at McMaster University.

Cataloguing & Classification Quarterly, 30(1), 111-121.

Cheryl Martin is the Director of Bibliographic Services at the McMaster University Library in Ontario, Canada.  The article addresses the changes that cataloging and organization have undergone since the introduction of technology to the academic library.  An excellent picture is given of what cataloging and organizing material looked like before the days of the computer.  Martin contrasts the cataloger’s job before modern technology to that of present day.  The author’s discussion of the introduction of technology in the library focuses on the negative aspects and does not thoroughly address the positive effects.  The author gives many insightful tips for the future.  Her discussion of the future of library budgets and staffing are accurate pictures of our current state and she gives helpful guidance on how to address the needs that have arisen.  She brings wisdom to the field of academic cataloging that only those with years of experience can achieve.  This article would be of interest to any novice cataloger, due to its simple layout and relevant content. 

Subject Guide

Lauren Hays
JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.
(913) 971-3561


The information provided on this Mabee Library web site is obtained from a number of sources.

While every reasonable effort is made to keep this web site accurate and up-to-date, the Mabee Library cannot guarantee the accuracy of all of the information, especially information provided by external sources.

The Mabee Library accepts no liability for inaccurate, out-of-date, or misleading information.