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Citation Guide: Annotated Bibliographies

A guide to creating citations for bibliographies and works cited pages


A citation reflects all of the information a person would need to locate a particular source. For example, basic citation information for a book consists of name(s) of author(s) or editor(s), title of the book, name of publisher, place of publication, and most recent copyright date.

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting. See Citation Styles.

A bibliography is an organized list of citations.

A works cited (MLA style) or references (APA style) list presents citations for those sources referenced or cited in a particular paper, presentation, or other composition.

An in-text citation consists of just enough information to correspond to a source's full citation in a Works Cited or References list. In-text citations often require a page number (or numbers) showing exactly where relevant information was found in the original source.

An abstract is a summary of an article or other work and cannot be used as if it were the full text.  You should not reference or cite an abstract in a paper or presentation, but instead find the full text.


MLA-style and APA-style guidelines change over time, especially for citing sources accessed electronically. This guide incorporates the most up-to-date information about how to cite sources correctly.

If you use a citation generator from a database or website, doublecheck, using this guide, to be sure the generator has used the current rules.

Annotating Citations

In an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief note—or annotation—that describes and/or evaluates the resource and the information found in it.

There are many ways to compose, organize, and present annotated citations, so always ask your instructor about content and format requirements for an assigned annotated bibliography.

In addition to standard citation information, when creating an annotated bibliography, gather and consider noting the following:

  • Form (Is the material found in a book, eBook, website, periodical article, periodical article from a database, etc.?)
  • Purpose (Does the material mean to inform, persuade, entertain, etc.?)
  • Audience (Is it for the general public, people in a specific profession, scholars, etc.?)
  • Authority (Is the author/publisher reliable?)
  • Currency (Is the source up-to-date?)
  • Coverage (Is the source comprehensive, an overview, show only one viewpoint, etc.?)
  • Special features (Does the source contain charts, photos, maps, bibliographies, etc.?)
  • Usefulness (Is this information useful to you in your research? How?)


Presley, Elvis A. “My Life on the Run.” Fugitive Magazine, 29 July 2007, pp. 4-9.

  • From a weekly magazine that specializes in information about fugitives
  • Meant to inform and amuse a general audience
  • Published recently in a reputable trade magazine
  • Documents Presley’s travels in North America since his “death”; includes tips on how to elude fans, maps of Presley’s travels, and photos of Presley posing in front of various Big Lots stores
  • I can use this information in my paper and my presentation as one demonstration of our culture’s obsession with dead celebrities

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