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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This guide provides quick and easy access to library resources for Rhetoric assignments as well as guidance on getting research and writing help.

What is the Purpose of an Annotated 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 clarify each source, and they will often provide evaluative information as well.

How to Annotate Your Bibliography

This guide contains instructions on creating an annotated bibliography. 

Annotated Bibliography: INFOGRAPHIC

Annotated Bibliographies (Accessible View)

What you should include: most annotations are between 50 and 150 words.

  • Purpose - Why are they writing the article or doing the research?
  • Author - Who is the author? What is their occupation/position, education, experience? Is the author qualified?
  • Author Bias - Does the author make assumptions upon which the rationale of the article or research rests? What are they?
  • Source Content - What method of obtaining data was employed? Is the source based on personal opinion or experience? Interviews or library research? Experiments or tests? Etc.
  • Intended Audience - Is this intended for the general public, scholars, or someone else? Is this reflected in the author's style of writing/presentation?
  • Author Conclusion - At what conclusion does the author arrive?
  • Significant Attachments - Are there appendices such as charts, maps, bibliographies, photos, tests, or questionnaires? If not, should there be?
  • Justification - Does the author satisfactorily justify the conclusion from the research or experience? Why or why not?
  • Relationships to Other Works - How does this study compare to similar studies? Are there specific examples with which this source agrees or disagrees?

An annotation should:

  • Briefly describe the cited material
  • Provide more guidance to the reader in determining the usefulness of a work
  • NOT be a book review or abstract

Annotated Bibliography Resources

The Writer's Handbook: Annotated Bibliography (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Annotated Bibliographies (Purdue OWL)

Sample Annotation

The annotation below is effective because it briefly summarizes the article's argument, places the argument in the context of the field, and evaluates the article.

Gilbert, Pam. "From Voice to Text: Reconsidering Writing and Reading in the English Classroom." English Education, vol. 23, no. 4, 1991, pp. 195-211.

Gilbert provides some insight into the concept of "voice" in textual interpretation, and points to a need to move away from the search for voice in reading. Her reasons stem from a growing danger of "social and critical illiteracy," which might be better dealt with through a move toward different textual understandings. Gilbert suggests that theories of language as a social practice can be more useful in teaching. Her ideas seem to disagree with those who believe in a dominant voice in writing, but she presents an interesting perspective.