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Writing an Annotated Bibliography  

Suggestions on researching and writing an annotated bibliography, with examples.
Last Updated: Jan 2, 2017 URL: Print Guide

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About Writing an Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of documents or other materials (books, articles, reports, visual or audio recordings, Web pages, etc.) relating to a specified subject.   There are essentially two main types of bibliographies, both of which can be very valuable in locating information.   The first is a list of materials someone has used while researching a paper, article, or book.   This type of bibliography provides citations to works consulted and/or cited during the research process, gathered together at the end of the work produced, usually with the citations arranged alphabetically by the authors' last names.   The second type of bibliography is a separate work that stands on its own, ranging in length from a less than a page to several pages to a book, that provides a list or lists of works addressing a particular topic.   This kind of bibliography can be either selective (listing the best materials on a subject) or exhaustive (listing as many works as can be identified that address a subject).

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography in which each entry is accompanied by an annotation--a statement, ranging in length from a sentence or two to an entire paragraph, which may describe, explain, and evaluate each item.   Not every bibliography that includes additional text is an annotated bibliography; sometimes abstracts rather than annotations are provided.   An abstract is a brief summary of the text of a book, article, or other information source, usually without added interpretation or criticism.   Annotations are related to abstracts.   An annotation may begin with a brief abstract, but will often go on to include an assessment of the item's value or significance and then to offer comments or recommendations regarding its use.

Annotated bibliographies are most often used by scholars looking for materials on a particular topic.   They help researchers find out about the extent of materials available, to get a sense of the items listed, to determine the quality or usefulness of different books, articles, and other resources for their work, and to make initial decisions about what to consult and when.   If you have been given an assignment to create an annotated bibliography as a course requirement, be sure to check with your professor regarding the target audience and purpose for your annotated bibliography. To get a sense of the range of styles and formats for annotated bibliographies, take a look at the examples.


Honor Council and Honor Code

Lawrence is proud of its long-standing tradition of a student-run honor system. Potential violations include failing to distinguish carefully between one's own work and material from any other source (e.g., written materials, oral sources, web pages, or other data available through computer resources).

See these pages for more on the Honor Council and Honor Code.


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During the school year, librarians are available at the Reference Desk during the following times.

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6 p.m-10 p.m.
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Phone: (920) 832-6752

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The reference librarians are happy to assist you with your questions about citation. Contact us in person or use the link to ask a Reference Librarian.

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