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Steps to Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Writing an Annotated Bibliography: Purpose and Types

References are an essential part of academic writing. It showcases the learner has done extensive research on the subject matter under discussion. It also works to give written text credibility and acts as a source of evidence on the claims made.

Writing an annotated bibliography allows the student to take the referencing process a step further by providing additional in-depth details about what each source is all about. This allows a professor or reader to gain more information about the key points contained in each source.

They can then make an informed decision on whether that source contains the kind of information they want to read the complete work. This type of task is great for gauging the research and analysis skills of a scholar because. By the time they are assigned to write an annotated bibliography, the teacher will want to know whether they can find sources related to that subject matter. Then assess their usefulness, explain the content, and make it easier for others who are less familiar with the references to gain more information.

Types of Annotated Bibliography

A good annotation must give ample information about each source so that the reader can tell why it is useful. Depending on the instructions given by a professor or the type of assignment, an annotated bibliography serves to provide an in-depth literature review on that topic, which helps to develop an outstanding thesis. The literature reviewed also become examples of scholarly material available on that topic.

By writing an annotated bibliography, the learner is also proving to the professor that they have conducted extensive research on the subject under discussion. It is also a way to acknowledge the authors that have contributed to that discipline. It also serves to describe scholarly material that researchers can find relevant and interesting on that particular topic.

Some of the standard annotated bibliographies that a student is likely to encounter include: Descriptive, analytical, and summary.


Just like the name implies, writing this annotated bibliography involves describing the source and explains its importance in relation to a particular topic. Depending on the requested word count, you might also give its distinct feature, the author’s main argument, and conclusion.

Apart from including the summary of the main points, you can go a step further and state the chapter titles or topics in every subsection. In this type of bibliography, a student is allowed to give distinct features of each source without providing the conclusion the author arrived at.


Also known as critical annotated bibliography, analytical analyzes what is said in each source and lists the strengths and weaknesses. It also gives applications of the conclusion reached and how it applies to the research you are conducting. Writing an analytical annotated bibliography is common in college.


This annotated bibliography is also referred to as informative. It gives essential information about each source, such as the hypothesis, thesis, results, conclusion, proofs, and any other neutral remarks concerning the quality. Some annotated bibliographies can combine more than one type, whereby the writing process would involve summarizing the key points or describing the content briefly.

Clemmie Lynch
Clemmie Lynch

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