Encyclopedias and Other Reference Works

Encyclopedias are a type of reference work that contains factual articles on many 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 a topic or field of study.

Use an Encyclopedia

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


  • Encyclopedia of Psychology (subject encyclopedia)
  • Encyclopedia Americana (general encyclopedia)

A few other types of reference works useful for research are

  • Biographies (information on people and their lives)
  • Dictionaries
  • Handbooks (well-organized, brief facts and statistics on a variety of topics)