Skip to Main Content

How To - Create an Annotated bibliography for APA: Introduction

What is an annotated bibliography? And how do I create one? This guide is here to help..

Creating an Annotated Bibliography

What's an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is an alphabetical reference list, with a brief description after each citation.  Sample annotations for specific citations are under the individual tabs in this guide. Your instructor might assign an annotated bibliography to teach you how to conduct research in your discipline and to widen your understanding of a topic. Some instructors ask you to create annotated bibliographies in preparation for research essays.

Please note that your instructors may have slightly different requirements for your assignments, so pay attention to what is communicated throughout your course.  You may be required to identify the authors' research methods and theoretical frameworks.  Some annotated bibliographies are descriptive, while others include analysis or criticism in each annotation. 

If you want to cite a type of publication that isn't provided here, please consult the relevant resources listed below or consult a librarian.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. What are the main points of the book or article?
  2. What is your assessment of the resource? Do you agree or disagree?
  3. What are the limitations of the work?
  4. How does this resource compare to others on the same topic? What are the similarities and/or differences?
  5. What connections can you make between this resource and other perspectives on the topic?
  6. Did you learn something new from this source that you hadn't thought of or read from another source?

Style Guides quick links

Any essay or article needs to give information for readers, so they can see where the author got the ideas and facts.  Different subjects require slightly different formats for presenting that information.  To make sure you're following the rules for your discipline, check a style guide.  Here are a few:

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Manual) is summarized online, and print copies are available in the Reference collection. BF76.7 .P83 2020 .P83 2020

More Sample Annotations

Cornell University Library offers these examples of both APA and MLA format descriptive bibliographies.

Purdue OWL offers these examples of both APA and MLA format annotated bibliographies.


This guide was adapted with permission from a guide created by Rainer Schira, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba.