Skip to Main Content

Global Studies

Resources and assistance for geography and global studies as part of the Department of History & Political Science.

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Annotated bibliographies are descriptive and evaluative lists of resources. They may include citations to books, journal/magazine articles, web sites, or other materials. Annotated bibliographies start with a citation which is followed by a brief paragraph that describes and also evaluated the information.

A typical annotation contains the following information in approximately 150 words:

  • Author information: Who is the author? What is her/his educational/professional background? Are they qualified to write about this topic?
  • Purpose: What is the purpose of this research? Is the purpose stated or implied?  
  • Audience information: To what audience is the author writing (scholars, teachers, the general public, etc.)? Is this reflected in the author's style of writing or presentation?
  • Author bias: Does the author show any biases or make assumptions upon which the rationale of the article rests? If so, what are they?
  • Methodological information: How did the researcher obtain the data?
  • Conclusion: What conclusions does the author draw? Are these conclusions specifically stated or implied?
  • Conclusion justification: Are the conclusions justified from the research or experience? Are the conclusions in sync with the original purpose of the research and supported by the data? Are the conclusions skewed by bias?
  • Relationship to other works: How does this work compare with others cited? Does it conflict with conventional wisdom, established scholarship, government policy, etc.? 
  • Time frame: Is the work current? Is this important? How does the time in which it was written reflect on the information contained in this work

Difference Between Annotations & Abstracts


  • Summarizes the work
  • Are usually short
  • Normally do not include an evaluation of the work itself


  • Includes an evaluation of or critical comments on the work.
  • The evaluation can include apparent biases, questions of credibility, and the originality of the research.
  • Annotation helps the reader know whether the work cited will be helpful to a specific research topic.

Dos & Don'ts of Writing Annotated Bibliographies


  • Summarize the central theme or scope of the article
  • Explain how this resource ties into the purpose or idea of your project
  • Include information on the author


  • Do not write a "thumbs-up/thumbs-down review
  • Do not skim the article, read it carefully before writing
  • Do not plagiarize
  • Do not copy and paste the abstract

Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Summary annotations

   -Sum up the general content

   -give overviews of the arguments and evidence expressed in the work, including the conclusion

   -Leave out judgement or critical thoughts

   -Describe approach or methodology when appropriate

Informative annotation

   -Can be read like a straight summary of the source material, but can also include relevant information about the author or the work itself

Indicative annotation

   -Similar to a general summary but does not attempt to include actual information from the argument itself. Instead, it gives general information

   about what kinds of questions or issues are addressed by the work.


   -evaluate the source or author critically (biases, lack of evidence, objective, etc.)

   -show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience

   -explain how researching this material was used in your own research


   -An annotated bibliography may combine elements of all the types. In fact, most of them fall into this category: a little summarizing and describing, a little evaluation.

Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill. (n.d.). The writing center: Annotated bibliographies. Retrieved from