Skip to Main Content

Annotated Bibliographies

Learn what an annotated bibliography is, and how you can construct one, in this guide.

What are Descriptive Annotations?

Descriptive annotations are intended to DESCRIBE the book, article, or other source.

What might a good description include? 

  • Information about who the author(s) of the work are and their credentials;
  • Summary of the work's main points -- > This is where you tell your reader what the book or article is really ABOUT;
  • Explanation of what the book or article includes in terms of charts, images, tables, or other related content;
  • Discussion of the work's tone and writing style (this can include a brief quote from the work itself);
  • Anything else that you think someone researching the same topic would want to know about the book or article you are describing.

Example Descriptive Annotation in APA Format

London, H. (1982). Five myths of the television age. Television quarterly 10, 1, 81-89.

       Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and author of several books and articles, explains how television contradicts five commonly believed ideas. He uses specific examples of events seen on television, such as the assassination of John Kennedy, to illustrate his points. His examples have been selected to contradict such truisms as: "seeing is believing"; "a picture is worth a thousand words"; and "satisfaction is its own reward." London uses logical arguments to support his ideas which are his personal opinion. He doesn't refer to any previous works on the topic. London's style and vocabulary would make the article of interest to any reader.

Click here to see what a critical annotation for this article would look like.

Example Descriptive Annotation in MLA Format

Summers, Montague. The Vampire, His Kith and Kin. New York: Dutton, 1929.

       "The first serious study in English of the Vampire, and kindred traditions from a general, as well as from a theological and philosophical point of view." Concludes that "it is hard to believe that a phenomenon which has so complete a hold over nations both old and young, in all parts of the world, at all times of history, has not some underlying and terrible truth however rare this may be in its more remarkable manifestations." The study covers appearance, characteristics, causes for, feeding habits of, and precautions to be taken against. Includes case histories, ancient accounts, an anthropological-type survey of various nations, asides on premature burial, necrophilia, and various perverse and antisocial acts. Contains a chapter on the vampire in literature and a bibliography of both true and fictitious vampires. A fascinating account which proves the old adage about truth and fiction.

Click here to see what a critical annotation for this book would look like.