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How to use Reference Sources

Reference sources, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, are great for gathering general information a topic.  If you need definitions of words or concepts, statistical information, or background information, reference sources are a good place to start.  


While most dictionaries and encyclopedias are credible sources of information, reference sources only summarize topics, and should not be used as a substitute for scholarly research.  Some professors will not allow you to cite encyclopedias in research papers, so be sure that you understand the expectations of an assignment beforehand.  Finally, be sure to choose reference sources wisely!  Encyclopedias and dictionaries should be published by a credible source, such as a major university.  (Wikipedia is NOT considered a credible reference source, so don't use it!)  For more information about reference sources, follow the links below.    

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Cover image of Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics     Cover image of Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook     Cover image of Uranometria 2000.0 Deep Sky Atlas

  • Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics | Call Number: QB14 .E534 2001 | ISBN: 0333750888
  • Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook | Call Number: QB65 .N7 1998 | ISBN: 0582312833
  • Uranometria 2000.0 Deep Sky Atlas | Call Number: QB65 .U78 2001 | ISBN: 0943396719

*The reference books listed above are available in print through the Stratton Taylor Library.