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Why Use Reference Books?

Reference books give you:

  • A quick introduction to your subject by covering a lot of points briefly;
  • In-depth background on some of the major elements of your topic;
  • Vocabulary to use for searches in other resources; and
  • Bibliographies that can give you ideas for other resources, among other things.

Reference materials can also help you choose a topic, spell correctly (we have lots of dictionaries), choosing alternative words (Want to sound smart? Use a thesaurus), answering grammar questions, and even finding a pithy quote to impress your professor!

Reference Databases

Here are some databases that emphasize reference materials:

Reference Books

The following are examples of subject specific encyclopedias found in our reference collection at STCC. They may only be used in the library. You can search the catalog to find many more encyclopedias in the general stacks that you can check out. Use these to get background on a possible research topic:

Community & family health issues : an encyclopedia of trends, conditions & treatments

REF RA418.5.F3.C66 2017 (3 vols)

Dirr's encyclopedia of trees and shrubs

REF SB435.D57 2011

Encyclopedia of exercise anatomy

REF RA781.L543 2014

Folktales and fairy tales : traditions and texts from around the world

REF GR74.F65 2016 (4 vols.)

Food history almanac : over 1,300 years of world culinary history, culture, and social influence

REF TX353.C568 2014 (2 vols.)
Occupational Outlook Handbook REF HF5382.5.U5.O33 2014
Psychology and Behavioral Health REF BF636.P86 2015 (5 vols)

Encyclopedia of religious controversies in the United States

REF BR515.E53 2013 (2 vols.)

Useful Reference Books for Writing