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Annotated bibliographies

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of the sources you've used in your research with brief “annotations” for each that describe the source’s content and summarise its main argument.

They are usually used in research projects to provide a comprehensive but focused overview of the critical discussions on a topic.

When compiling an annotated bibliography you should make sure that:

  • your selected sources demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area and demonstrate good research skills
  • your annotations demonstrate your ability to identify arguments and evaluate their usefulness for your project
  • you use the referencing style of your department eg Harvard, APA, MLA – find out more about referencing at Leeds.

Keeping track of which information came from where, can be a challenging. As an alternative to EndNote, try online referencing tools such as Citavi and Zotero. They are useful for inserting citations and references, but they also help to organise your sources into categories, and you can make notes and highlight key quotes.

How do they look?

To find out how they work in practice, take a look at these two examples of annotated bibliographies created by an English tutor a the University of Leeds.

How are they different to ordinary bibliographies?

Ordinary bibliographies are lists of the sources that have been cited or used in your work (report, essay, or another form of assessment). They allow the reader to find the sources if they want to read in more detail.