Bristol Community College

Bristol Community College

Writing An Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that includes a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph after each citation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source cited.

Level of Detail

Some annotated bibliographies will call for a cursory description in preparation for a research project, while others will require more detailed analysis. Ask your professor about the level of detail needed in the annotations.


Bibliographies are traditionally arranged by Author and then Title or Year, and this arrangement can be used for annotated bibliographies as well. However, it may make more sense to organize an annotated bibliography thematically or chronologically. Use your own judgment, or ask your professor for guidance.

Research Process

An annotated bibliography should be the end product of a comprehensive literature review, and not simply the first 20 citations you find. Through bibliographies and references, each source you find will lead to others. As you gradually build up an understanding of your subject by following these connections, it will become clear which sources are most relevant to your research.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of all this research, or don't know where to start, Ask A Librarian for assistance.


Example Annotated BibliographySee the sample at right from Abstract expressionist women painters: an annotated bibliography courtesy of Williams College Library.

For more information, see the citation guide or Ask A Librarian.