Types of Reference Sources

Review the following chart of various types of reference materials and why they are used. Then, answer the questions below.


Use this to find:

Dictionaries (general, specialized, language) Definitions of words in a particular field; for word meanings; for etymology (origin)
>Dictionary of Business & Management
Encyclopedias (general or subject-specific)

Background information on a topic; usually written by a subject specialist

>Encyclopedia Britannica >Encyclopedia of Criminology

Facts, formulas, technical information; quick reference about a broad subject area

>CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics
>Handbook to Literature

Biographical dictionaries

Background information about a person

>Who's Who in America
>Dictionary of Literary Biography
Quotation dictionaries Who said what, where; some focus on a particular topic >Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations
Almanacs Brief statistical information and facts, both current and retrospective
>World Almanac & Book of Facts
Directories Names, addresses, phone numbers, locations of people, organizations, companies, etc >Encyclopedia of Associations
APA Membership Directory >National Faculty Directory

Lists of citations to resources on a particular topic

>Sexual Harrassment: A Selected, Annotated Bibliography
Yearbooks A summary of the current status of a year's work in a particular field
>Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook

iDevice icon Think about it ...
Using the chart above, indicate which type of reference source you would consult (other than Google) for each of the five information needs listed below.

1. I'm writing a paper on euthanasia and want more information about Jack Kevorkian.

2. I need to know the molecular formula of cholesterol.

3. For my research on city planning and skyscrapers, I need to find out which city currently has the tallest building in the world.

4. I need to find out who is the Public Relations Officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation so I can contact him/her about my research. I already checked their Web site and couldn't find the information.

5. I need to find the definition of "laissez-faire."

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