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Citation Guide

Cite sources, create annotated bibliographies, and avoid plagiarism.

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 from a webpage, periodical, book, or audiovisual source? Accessed online??
  • Purpose – Does the material mean to inform, persuade, entertain, etc.?
  • Audience – Is it for the general public, people in a specific profession, scholars/researchers, etc.?
  • Authority – Is the author/publisher reliable?
  • Currency – Is the information recent enough?
  • Coverage – Is the source comprehensive or an overview? Does it present only one viewpoint?
  • 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 2021, 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


A listing that presents all of the information needed to locate a particular source. For example, a book's citation typically includes author or editor name(s), book title, publisher, and latest copyright year.
citation style
Guidelines that dictate the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.
An organized list of citations.
references or Works Cited list
A list of citations for all of the sources directly referenced (or cited) in a particular paper, presentation, or other composition. In APA style, this list is headed References; in MLA, it's called Works Cited.
in-text citation
A reference inside the body of a paper's text, providing information that leads to a source's full citation in a References or Works Cited list. An in-text citation generally requires an author’s last name and the page number range for the cited information’s location in the original source.
A summary of an article or other work. You should not reference or cite an abstract in a paper or presentation, Instead, find and use the full text.

Library photo courtesy of Barry Halkin Photography