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Citing Sources

A citation is a reference to a published source, a way of acknowledging you found this information published somewhere, by someone.

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 for further use. Annotations help to to clarify each source, and they will often provide evaluative information as well. Annotations can be any length, but are usually about 50 to 150 words in length.

Types of Annotations


  • Written in the tone of the book or article, an informative annotation presents the original material in a shorter form.


  • Provides a description of the text, avoiding the addition of any evaluative commentary on its quality.


  • In addition to the information included in the previous annotation types, includes an evaluative judgment of the material as well.

What Should You Include?


  • Who is the author?
  • What is his/her occupation, position, education, experience, etc?
  • Is the author qualified (or not) to write the article?


  • What is the purpose for writing the article or doing the research?

Intended Audience

  • To what audience is the author writing?
  • Is it intended for the general public, for scholars, policy makers, teachers, professionals, practitioners, etc.?
  • Is this reflected in the author's style of writing or presentation?
  • How is this evidenced?

Author Bias

  • Does the author have a bias or make assumptions upon which the rationale of the article or research rests?
  • What are they?

Information Source

  • What method of obtaining the data, or conducting the research, was employed by the author?
  • Is the article (or book) based on personal opinion or experience, interviews, library research, questionnaires, laboratory experiments, standardized personality tests, etc.?

Author Conclusion

  • At what conclusion does the author arrive?


  • Does the author satisfactorily justify the conclusion from the research or experience?
  • Why or why not?

Relationship to Other Works

  • How does the study compare with similar studies? Is it in tune with or in opposition to conventional wisdom, established scholarship, professional practice, government policy, etc.?
  • Are there specific studies, writings, schools of thought, philosophies, etc., with which this one agrees or disagrees and that one should be aware?

Significant Attachments

  • Are there significant attachments or appendices such as charts, maps, bibliographies, photos, documents, tests or questionnaires? If not, should there be?

Annotated Bibliography Resources

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 23.4 (1991): 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.