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ENGL 1A/2A: Critical Thinking & Writing (McIsaac): Annotated Bibliography

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What is an Annotated Bibliograpy?

What is an annotated bibliography?

A more detailed guide for different types of annotations is here.

A standard bibliography details the citation information of the consulted sources: author(s), date of publication, title, and publisher's name and location (and for articles: journal title, volume, issue and page numbers). The primary function of bibliographic citations is to assist the reader in finding the sources used in the writing of a work.


To these basic citations, the annotated bibliography adds descriptive and evaluative comments (i.e., an annotation), assessing the nature and value of the cited works. The addition of commentary provides the future reader or researcher essential critical information and a foundation for further research.


What each annotated bibliographic entry should include:


While an annotation can be as short as one sentence, the average entry in an annotated bibliography consists of a work's citation information followed by a short paragraph of about five to eight sentences. The annotated bibliography is your “first pass” at the academic sources you identified in your library search. Once a final group of sources has been selected, you will be give full citation data (following MLA style) and write an annotation for each source; do not list a source more than once.


Annotations begin on the line following the citation data and should be composed with complete sentences. Each annotation should include most, if not all, of the following:

  • Explanation of the main purpose of the article. What were the researcher(s)’ goals or predictions?
  • A brief mention of the framework or theory (if any) the author(s) used.
  • Discussion of the main findings of the research article (summarize and synthesize here). Notes: You will need to read the author's discussion section for this. Please spend most of your annotation focused on this information!
  • A Short Statement explaining how this article will be useful for your research project and how it connects to your topic.

NOTE: Avoid using direct quotes. Instead, paraphrase and summarize your annotation.

Although many of these elements also will be included in your literature review, the emphasis of bibliographic annotation should be on brevity. Remember, one of the purposes of the annotated bibliography is to help you decide how to best use each article in your literature review.


Example: Annotated Bibliography Entry

 Craig, R. Stephen. “The Effect of Television Day Part on Gender Portrayals in Television Commercials: A Content Analysis.” Sex Roles, vol. 26, Mar. 1992, pp. 197–211. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/BF00289707.

Gender portrayals in 2,209 network television commercials from 1990 were content analyzed. To compare differences between three day parts, the sample was chosen from three time periods: daytime, evening prime time, and weekend afternoon sportscasts. The gender of the characters, their roles, the product advertised, setting and gender of primary narrator was noted. The results indicate large and consistent differences in the way men and women are portrayed in these three day parts, with almost all comparisons reaching significance at the .05 level. Although ads in all day parts tended to portray men in stereotypical roles of authority and dominance, those on weekends tended to emphasize escape from home and family. The findings of earlier studies which did not consider day part differences may now have to be reevaluated for they may have either overestimated or underestimated certain types of gender differences.


Your annotated bibliographic entries must include full citation information of each article in MLA style.

Materials adapted from the UC Santa Cruz Library website,