Ohio University

Guidelines on Preparing an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to scholarly texts, including articles, book chapters, and books. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about three to five sentences) paragraph that evaluates and describes the work. This brief paragraph is called the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotated bibliographies are a useful way to explore a new field of research in order to identify a specific topic for a research paper. Once you have identified a general field of research, the process of preparing an annotated bibliography will enable you to explore the scholarly texts that are available in this research field, and will help you narrow your focus as you begin to write your final research paper. For this course, the annotated bibliography should include mostly texts written in the past 25 years, and all entries should be scholarly works.

For each annotation, you should present a full citation for the work, following the proper citation format: Chicago Author-Date.

You should then include a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include several sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your topic.

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between scholarly works and popular works.

  • Scholarly works are those that: (a) are written by an individual with scholarly credentials, such as a doctoral degree in the field; (b) include evidence and documentation to support claims; and (c) include citations and a bibliography of references to other works in the field.
  • Popular works are those that: (a) are written by staff reporters, journalists, or others with no academic credentials; (B) make claims that are based on opinion rather than documented evidence; and (c) do not include references, citations, or bibliographies.