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Types of Sources: Types of Sources

A guide that provides information on types of sources and how to find them.

Sources can be defined at least two different ways. When people use the phrase "types of sources" they may be referring to the:

  1. Level or distance from the original source of information (primary, secondary, tertiary)
  2. Format of the information source (book, article, movie, blog, etc.)

This guide will clarify both types of definitions. Which source is the best? It depends! Each source has unique characteristics which need to be considered when making the decision to use a source for research. Most college instructors and many high school teachers will insist on academic or scholarly sources, but it depends on the assignment.

Information sources are usually organized by type. Books, journal articles, blogs, photographs, data sets, patents, are all types of sources commonly used for research. See the Identifying Primary Sources page in this guide for more information about various types of sources.

A woman holding  a microphone and interviewing a man. An Interview is an example of a primary source.

Image courtesy of

A source may be in print or other types of physical format. Additionally, sources are also available electronically such as an e-Book.

In other words, to say you have an article, song or movie does not imply you have an article in print, a CD of a song or a DVD of a movie. All these formats are available in print and digital versions, and you, the researcher, must decide which method of delivery you prefer or which is most readily available at time of need.

The Taft College Library has both CDs and DVDs available for checkout. Below are examples from our catalog.

Some content has been adapted from the Wichita State University Types of Sources LibGuide.

Last updated August 6, 2018