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Reference Sources: Home

How to find reference sources

There are several ways to find reference sources in the Library collection:

1. Try the Reference Universe search box on this page, or the links to other online reference collections on this page.

2. Use OneSearch. Enter your search, then filter your results:

  • For online sources, click "Reference Entries" under the Format filter.
  • For print sources, look for "Reference" listed with your library under the Location filter.

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Reference Universe

Reference Universe searches across specialized research encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, etc. Results may be online OR in print at one of our libraries.

Enter your search terms:

Online reference collections: Alternatives to Wikipedia

Why use reference sources?

Reference sources are often the best place to start your research because they:

  • provide a good introduction to a topic.
  • provide brief, factual information.
  • summarize and clarify issues.
  • define unfamiliar terms.
  • identify additional relevant sources such as books and periodical articles.

Common reference sources include:

  • Encyclopedias - Contain concise, factual information on topics or concepts.
  • Handbooks - Contain practical information (e.g., how to do something) on a topic.
  • Almanacs - Contain calendars, basic facts, and statistical information relating to people, places, and events.
  • Biographical sources - Contain biographical information on individuals such as birth and death dates and major achievements.
  • Dictionaries - Contain definitions of terms.


The library system offers a wide range of dictionaries, including language dictionaries and specialized subject-specific dictionaries. Dictionaries may be available in print, online, or in both formats. See below for help finding language dictionaries. You may also find dictionaries through the other reference resources listed on this page.