Types of Reference Books

Descriptions of each type of reference book.
3 |
4 |
5 |
6 |
7 |
8 |
9 |
10 |
11 |


A book of maps with or without text. The word atlas was first used as the title of a book by Gerardus Mercator in 1585.

Examples: Atlas of the World, Rand McNally Atlas of the Earth's Resources

Biographical Index

A book of information about people who are well known in a particular field.

Examples: Who's Who, Current Biography


Definitions, spellings, and pronunciations of words, arranged in alphabetical order.

Examples: The American Heritage Dictionary, The Misspellers' Dictionary, Young People's Science Dictionary


The names and addresses as well as other facts about specific groups, persons, or organizations.

Examples: Guide to Summer Camps, Children's Media Marketplace


Information on just about every subject arranged in alphabetical order.

Examples: World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica


A geographical dictionary or index with the names of places and their locations in alphabetical order.

Example: Chambers World Gazetteer: An A-Z of Geographical Information


Information and directions, often for travelers.

Examples: Fodor's Travel Guides, Guide to the Ski Touring Centers of New England, Barron's Guide to the Most Prestigious Colleges


Instructions on how to do or make something.

Examples: A Manual for Writing Term Papers, by Kate L. Turabian; The Manual of Martial Arts, by Ron van Clief


Synonyms, or near synonyms, for words as well as related terms.

Example: Roget's Thesaurus


Current information on a wide range of topics.

Examples: Time Almanac, Information Please Sports Almanac, Guinness Book of World Records


Provided by Infoplease—an authoritative, comprehensive reference website that offers an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an atlas, and several almanacs. Visit Infoplease.com to find more resources endorsed by teachers and librarians.

You've been given early access to our Black Friday Sale!

Use promo code BF20 at checkout for 75% off unlimited access.

Continue to checkout

Annual and 2-year plans renew at full price. Monthly plans renew after 12 consecutive months of premium membership. Restrictions apply. Cancel anytime.