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HP 342: South Africa

What is an annotated bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of the sources that you used to research your topic (also known as Works Cited or References, depending on what format you're using).  An annotation is a summary or explanation. 

An annotated bibliography includes a summary/evaluation of each source. 

The Purdue OWL suggests that your annotated bibliography should do one or more of the following:


  • What are the source's main arguments?
  • What topics are covered?


  • Evaluate the source - is it useful?
  • How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography?
  • Is the source reliable? Can you tell if it's biased?


  • How does this source fit into your research?
  • How does it shape your argument?
  • Has it changed how you view your topic?

Keep in mind that not all annotations must be the same length, and do not always have to assess and reflect. Sometimes just a brief summary is enough. Remember to check with your professor on what they expect for your specific assignment.