Encyclopedias and Reference Books

Encyclopedias and other reference books contain factual articles on many subjects, and are a good place to get an overview of a topic. Reference books include dictionaries, atlases and sourcebooks on various subjects.

There are two types of encyclopedias -- general and subject. General encyclopedias provide overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain entries focusing on one field of study, such as Biology or Art.

Use an Encyclopedia or other Reference book

  • when looking for background information on a topic
  • when trying to find key ideas, important dates or concepts


  • The Grove Dictionary of Art (subject encyclopedia)
  • The World Book Encyclopedia (general encyclopedia)