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What is an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography defines an alphabetical list of citations to articles, book chapters, books, and other categories of documents, in which a brief paragraph, of approximately 150 words, follows every citation. Such a paragraph, in this case, is the annotation, and it provides the description and evaluation of the content cited. Therefore, annotation plays a key role in informing the reader of the quality, accuracy, and relevance of the cited sources.

Most Common Topics

Among the most popular or rather common topic of annotated bibliographies, may include but not limited to the following.

  • Control of gun ownership
  • Security and public privacy
  • Global warming
  • Animal testing
  • Organized crimes
  • Women and marketing
  • Genetic engineering
  • Nuclear weapons and their control
  • Social justice and others.

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an annotated bibliography calls for the writer to use various intellectual abilities, especially research, succinct scrutiny, and concise exposition. As a result, one should first locate and make a record of the citation to the selected source that might be rich in useful ideas and information on the topic under study. Secondly, there is the demand to carry out a brief examination and consequently a review of the actual sources. Third, one then needs to choose the resources that provide diverse perspectives on the selected topics and use an appropriate citation style to cite such items.

Finally, a brief annotation summarizing the dominant theme and range of the article or book, containing sentences that achieve the following.

  1. Evaluate the author’s background or authority
  2. Comment on the targeted audience
    Contrasting or comparing this source with another already cited
  3. Explaining how this source sheds more lights on the bibliography topic.

Outline or Template or Format

See the sample paper. Note that the sample, in this case, uses MLA style of referencing sources.

Annotated Bibliography Sample – The Human Rights


In conclusion, annotation bibliography, unlike standard bibliography, presents a brief summary of all the resources cited in one’s academic essays. Moreover, one need to clearly state why he/she thinks the information acquired from the various sources used are accurate, helpful, and relevant.

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