Finding the Right Reference Sources

Here's a summary of what reference tools should be used when asked by the following class of questions:

Class of Questions
Sample Types
Representative Sources
1. Language Definition, spelling, symbols, foreign
terms, usage
Dictionary
2. Background History, general information, self education
Encyclopedia
3. Trend Current events, past year's development recent happenings
Yearbook, serial/ almanac
5. Places Locations, descriptions, distances, population, etc., area measurement Gazetteer,atlast, map, guidebooks, globes
6. Organizations addresses, purposes Directory
7. Facts curiosities, statistics, events, formulas,
allusions
Handbook
8. Activities "How to Do", "How to Make"
Manual
9. Bibliography Reviews, best books, literature subject,
National, trade
subject, bibliography
10. Illustrations Pictures, cartoons, slides, films, recordings
Audio-visual material

Reference Sources are classified according to primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

  1. Primary sources are original materials. Examples of these are reports, magazine articles, patents, theses, dissertations, manuscripts, monographs.

  2. Secondary sources are materials prepared from original or primary sources. Original materials which have been rearranged, interpreted, condensed, belong to this classification.

  3. Tertiary sources are primary and secondary sources combined together. These are materials that have been twice removed from the original. Almost all types of reference sources fall under this classification.

Reference Tools:

1. Dictionary
2. Encyclopedia
3. Ready Reference Sources (Almanacs & Yearbooks, Handbooks/Manuals, Directories)
4. Biographical Sources (Biography, Autobiography, Genealogy, Biographical Dictionaries)
5. Geographical Sources (Map, Atlas, Gazeteers, Guidebooks, Globe)
6. Index
7. Serials (Periodical, Magazine, Journal, Series, Conference Proceedings)
8. Other Information Sources (Government Documents, Company and Trade Literature, Technical Reports, Standards & Specificatons, Patents & Trademarks, Dissertations & Thesis)

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