Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is an organized list of resources with a descriptive paragraph that gives the reader a good idea about how this resource was a helpful tool. Annotations are usually evaluative.

Annotations Answer These Types of Questions

  • How does this item relate to your topic?
Does it provide background information? Is it an analysis of your topic?

  • What was the author’s purpose?
What was the author trying to say or prove?

  • Does it have any special features, such as a bibliography, index, charts, graphs, or illustrations, and what is their significance?
These types of special features can point you to additional information on your topic and take you right to your topic within the resource.

  • When was it published? Does it matter for your topic?
If you are researching a current topic, does an article that is 5 years old have any relevant information. Whereas if you’re researching an older event, older materials are more pertinent.

  • What are the authorís credentials?
Who is the author? Has he published on this topic before? Is he a researcher/author/professor who is widely known in the field for this topic?

  • Who is the audience for this publication?
Was the article/book written for the general reader as an overview or was it written for someone who already has some knowledge but wants to learn more?


In general, an annotated bibliography can use any bibliographic style that is assigned by your professor. An annotated bibliography is laid out as follows:

  • Bibliographic citation
  • Bibliographic citation

Example Annotation

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2001). Copyrights and copywrongs. The rise of intellectual property and how it threatens creativity. New York: New York University Press.

The author, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a frequent NPR commentator, argues that copyright law has been transformed into a property right. He supports his arguments with examples of court cases that demonstrate the evolution of copyright leading into the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Though not specifically on the DMCA, his discussion of copyright being transformed into a never-ending property right is pertinent in that the DMCA has the potential to enforce such property rights. The book is thoroughly researched as demonstrated by the inclusion of an extensive notes section, which points the reader to further resources. This book is intended to be read by academicians and others with a strong interest in copyright law.

Additional Sources

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Last updated August 10, 2012, at 10:14 AM by Laura Pope Robbins