Types of Reference Books

Descriptions of each type of reference book.
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Atlas

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

Dictionary

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

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

Directory

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

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

Encyclopedia

Information on just about every subject arranged in alphabetical order.

Examples: World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica

Gazetteer

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

Guidebook

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

Manual/Handbook

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

Thesaurus

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

Example: Roget's Thesaurus

Yearbook/Almanac

Current information on a wide range of topics.

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

Infoplease

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.

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