You have just been given the assignment to write an annotated bibliography. Before you begin, you need to know what exactly an annotated bibliography is and how to get started. First, what is an annotation? An annotation is more than just a brief summary of an article, book, Web site or another type of publication. An annotation should give enough information to make a reader decide whether to read the complete work. In other words, if the reader were exploring the same topic as you, is this material useful and if so, why? How is an annotation different from an abstract?
While an abstract also summarizes an article, book, Web site or another type of publication, it is purely descriptive. Although annotations can be descriptive, they also include distinctive features about an item. Annotations can be evaluative and critical as we will see when we look at the two major types of annotations. What is an annotated bibliography? An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.