Reading and Evaluating Sources

Annotated Bibliography

Robin Jeffrey

An annotation often offers a summary of a source that you intend to use for a research project as well as some assessment of the source’s relevance to your project or quality and credibility.

Here are the key components of a typical annotation:

Works Cited Reference

You will provide the full bibliographic reference for the source: author, title, source title, and other required information depending on the type of source. This will be formatted just as it would be in a typical Works Cited.

Summary of the source

  • At the very beginning of your summary, mention the title of the text you are summarizing, the name of the author, and the central point or argument of the text.
  • Describe the key sections of the text and their corresponding main points. Try to avoid focusing on details; a summary covers the essential points.
  • Always maintain a neutral tone and use the third-person point of view and present tense (i.e. Tompkins asserts…).
  • Keep the focus of the summary on the text, not on what you think of it, and try to put as most of the summary as you can in your own words. If you must use exact phrases from the source that you are summarizing, you must quote and cite them.
  • Present the text’s main points only and be concise! Every word counts.

Additional content

Check the assignment sheet for the annotated bibliography. Do you need to go beyond summarizing the source? Do you need to evaluate the source’s credibility or relevance? Do you need to offer an explanation of how you plan to integrate the source in your paper? Do you need to point out similarities or differences with other sources in the annotated bibliography? Any (or all) of those things may be required in an annotated bibliography.


Annotated bibliographies require formatting, which is different depending on what type of style guide you must adhere to: MLA, APA, CMS, etc. Be sure to check the formatting and style guidelines (resources abound online, including visual models) for your annotated bibliography assignment.

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Annotated Bibliography by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.