Writing the annotation - Summary

The annotation may include one or more of the following components:

  • summary or description of the source
  • evaluation and analysis of the study
  • reflection on its usefulness to your research


Remember, what is included in the annotation depends on what your lecturer specifically asks for, so read the instructions carefully!

Writing a summary

The first part of an annotation is usually a summary or description of the text. This involves briefly outlining the author’s main points, as well as providing an overview of the approach or methodology they have used.

As you read each source, focus on understanding the main ideas. Take notes on the following questions, in your own words, and this will then form the basis of your summary:

  • What was the aim of the research?
  • What research methodologies have been used? (i.e. How was the research conducted? What methods of collecting and analysing data were used?)
  • What are the main arguments or research findings?
  • What is the scope of the research? (i.e. What is included in the research and what is left out? What are the limitations of the research?)
  • What evidence is being used to support the conclusions?
  • Why was the research done? What issues were addressed?
  • If appropriate to your subject area, are there any quotations that summarise the main argument?

Another way of tackling summaries is the 5WH approach:

Note that you don’t need to summarise everything in your annotated bibliography. It will usually comprise a single coherent paragraph, but sometimes you will be asked to provide a shorter summary in just one or two sentences. The information you include will depend on what you’ve been asked to do, and the purpose of the task.

For example:

The summary or description may look something like the following example (see below in bold). Note that the length of each is different because each entry was written to meet different requirements.