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Dictionaries & Encyclopedias: How to use reference tools

Dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, statistics and other reference tools.

Reference Books FAQ

Why use reference books?

  • To get facts and numbers
  • To get an overview of a topic
  • To learn the specialized vocabulary

      Are reference books scholarly sources? Can I cite reference books in my paper?

      Reference books are only a starting point for research. They are not meant to be the actual sources on which you base your paper. Reference books survey and summarize the works of other scholars rather than presenting original research. They are valuable as an aid to understanding, but what you cite in your paper should be mostly scholarly journal articles and monographs (aka scholarly books.)

      Subject Guide

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