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Reference Sources: Home

A guide on the types of reference sources


Reference Sources are designed to help you get started on your research paper. They can help you in many ways-

  • To get background information on your topic
  • Information about important people (Who), events (What), places (Where), dates (When) and how they are related to your topic (How)
  • Great definitions and ideas for Keywords which will help you find more sources on your topic

Types of Reference Sources:

  • Almanacs: collection of facts, statistics, charts.
  • Atlas & Gazetteers: visual representations--atlases--or geographical dictionaries--gazetteers--that provide information about places.
  • Bibliographies: provide lists of materials about a particular subject.
  • Biographical Dictionary: provide short sketches about the lives of important people.
  • Dictionary & Thesauri: provide definitions, synonyms and histories of words. 
  • Directories: list names and addresses of persons, organizations, businesses.  
  • Encyclopedia: can be either general or specialized by subject matter. Contains articles on subjects in various fields, usually including helpful bibliographies.
  • Handbook & Manuals: "how to" books, containing instructions and miscellaneous items of information on one subject. MLA Handbook, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
  • Indexes: tell where information can be found in other sources.
  • Statistical Sources: give data or numbers that have been compiled to quantify and compare the characteristics of people, places or things.
  • Yearbooks: (also called annuals) chronicle the events of a certain year, usually in a particular field.

Quick Reference Source Guide