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Graduate Student Guides

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliographies summarize, evaluate, and organize texts. Their length and formatting can vary. Be sure to check for specific requirements when assigned an annotated bibliography. 

Popular Techniques:

  • Use a legend of keywords and abbreviations to organize texts based on commonalities
  • Include subheadings to group related texts together
  • Write a brief introduction describing the purpose and organization of the bibliography


These annotations describe example annotated bibliographies and how they are used:

Di Battista, G., Eades, P., Tamassia, R., & Tollis, I. G. (1994). Algorithms for drawing graphs: an annotated bibliography. Computational Geometry, 4(5), 235-282. 

Graphs are foundational tools for communicating scientific findings. Determining which graph is best for a given dataset can be challenging and highly specific to the data being analyzed. Di Battista et al. (1994) use an annotated bibliography to integrate findings from a broad range of research aimed at developing algorithms to create aesthetically pleasing graphs.  


Ernst, A. T., Jiang, H., Krishnamoorthy, M., Owens, B., & Sier, D. (2004). An annotated bibliography of personnel scheduling and rostering. Annals of Operations Research, 127(1-4), 21-144. 

Ensuring people are where they should be when they should be is a challenging task. The consequences of scheduling problems can range from poor communication to major reparation costs. Ernst et al. (2004) address the challenges of organizing personnel and summarize common rostering conflicts to help prevent them from reoccurring.


Healey, R. (1998). Twentieth-century Italian literature in English translation: An annotated bibliography 1929-1997. University of Toronto Press. 

The organizational nature of annotated bibliographies enables researchers to classify information that may otherwise be difficult to access. Healey (1998) provides a compendium of information about Italian literature from the 1900s. The bibliography includes detailed information about each resource, including the date they were written and their translators.


Graduate students can get research support from the Graduate Studies Librarian, Leeanne Romane, by booking a research consultation hereImprove your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email


McMaster University. (2020, September 11). A Guide to Doing an Annotated Bibliography. McMaster University Library.

Purdue University. (n.d.). Annotated Bibliographies. Purdue OWL.

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