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Architectural Engineering and Construction Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

What is an annotated bibliography?

Annotations versus Abstracts

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, websites, reports and documents.
  • Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, which we call the annotation.
  • The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the source cited. The annotation lets the reader know what the source is about and whether you found it to be useful and accurate or not.
  • Do not cut and paste parts of the abstract into your bibliography in place of a thoughtful annotation!

How do I make an annotated bibliography?

Sample entry from annotated bibliography

Check with your instructor to determine what they want to be included in annotations. In general, an annotation should inform the reader of the quality and relevance of the source. Annotations are detailed but succinct, typically about 150 words, and include:

  • A brief summary (2-4 sentences) of the article, including the author’s name and what you think is the author’s primary point or thought.
  • A description of the intended audience.
  • An evaluation of the source’s usefulness, reliability, strengths and weaknesses and its value for your research.

Taken from

Thinking critically about annotated bib sources

Think about the following when looking for sources for your annotated bibliography:

  • Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence?  
  • Are the ideas and arguments advanced more or less in line with other works you have read on the same topic?  
  • Does the source extensively or marginally cover your topic?  
  • Is the material primary or secondary in nature?  
  • What are the author's credentials--institutional affiliation?  
  • Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? (respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars)   
  • When was the source published? Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic?  
  • Is this a popular magazine or scholarly journal? 
  • Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience?

Questions to ask yourself as you write your annotations

Think about including the following in your annotation:

  • What was the central theme of the source?
  • Who was the audience that the source was written for (i.e. students, scientists, etc.)
  • Was the scope of the source comprehensive? (i.e. Did it cover everything you thought it should have? Did it focus on everything about that topic or just one or two small issues?)
  • Was this source and its conclusions convincing to you or not?
  • What are the strengths of this source? What are its weaknesses?
  • Is the author of the source an authority in the subject or not?
  • Is there anything highly helpful or useful included in this paper? (ex: a good bibliography, a detailed glossary, etc.)
  • Was this source helpful or not in your overall research?
  • What did you think about this source?

Annotated Bibliography Example