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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ESL Undergraduate Student Guide

A guide to support international students in ESL 112 and 115 and beyond.

Annotate Your Bibliography

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to describe the cited material, whether a book, article or other type of source. It is a brief, descriptive note that should provide sufficient information so that a determination can be made as to whether the source should be examined further for use. Annotations help to to clarify each source, and they will often provide evaluative information as well.

Annotations are NOT book reviews. Be careful as you begin that you do not create a book review. An annotation also differs from an abstract, as an abstract is simply a summary of the content. The annotation provides information for determining the usefulness of an individual work.


Understanding an Annotated Bibliography

Click on the image, then hover over each red dot to find out more information about your assignment. 


This example is based on a previous version of APA and the style of the citation is not correct. Use this as an example of what belongs in each category of your annotated bibliography.


Writing Reliability Statements

Consider the following points when you are writing your reliability statement:

  • Who is the publisher? Is the source scholarly?
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • When was it published? Do you need current information?
  • Where and how did you find this? If you found it through the library, what is the name of the database?
  • If it is a web source, what is the domain? 

Is it Reliable

Tips for critically evaluating information resources.


  • Who published the information?
  • Was it published in an academic journal?
  • How do you know this?


  • Who are the authors?
  • Are their credentials provided?
  • Are they affiliated with a university?

Date the article was published

  • Can you find the date of publication?
  • Does your research depend on more recent articles or a specific date range?


  • Why is the article written?
  • Does it cite sources?
  • Does it refer to other writings on the topic?
  • Are there charts, graphs, tables, or bibliographies included?
  • How long is the source?
  • Are the author's conclusions based on the evidence that's provided?

If there are citations, over ten pages, charts and graphs, it is most likely a scholarly source!


Where did you find the article? If found in a library database, what is the name of the database? For example, Academic Search Ultimate, PsycINFO, or Gender Watch. 


  • What is the domain?
  • Remember that .com, .org, and .net can be purchased.
  • Domains like .edu and .gov are generally reliable. 
  • Are publication dates provided?