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A bibliography is a list of works (books, articles, films, etc.) on a particular topic. An annotated bibliography includes an entry following each citation that summarizes the work. An annotation can help the reader determine the value of each work on the topic and the contribution it might make to their own research. Two common types of annotated bibliographies are descriptive and critical.
What is included in a Descriptive Annotation?
A descriptive annotation may summarize:
The main purpose or idea of the work
The contents of the work
The author’s conclusions
The intended audience
The author’s research methods
Special features of the work such as illustrations, maps, tables, etc.
What is included in a Critical Annotation?
A critical annotation includes value judgments or comments on the effectiveness of the work. In this context, critical means evaluative and may include both positive and negative comments. A critical annotation may contain the information found in a descriptive annotation and discuss some of the following features:
The importance of the work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
The author’s bias or tone
The author’s qualifications for writing the work
The accuracy of the information in the source
Limitations or significant omissions
The work’s contribution to the literature of the subject
Comparison with other works on the topic
Be sure to check your assignment guidelines or ask your professor if you are unsure what elements to include in your annotation.
Examples of annotated bibliographies
The Purdue Online Writing Lab and Excelsior Online Writing Lab both offer helpful examples of how to format and write an annotated bibliography. Keep in mind that annotated bibliographies may be written in any citation style, so be sure to use the style that your professor recommends.