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SPCH U448 - Organizational Communication: Communication Reference

Using Reference Books

Although you don't usually cite reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias they can 

  • help you narrow and focus your topic
  • define terms you are unsure about
  • provide background information
  • offer important facts and figures
  • lead you to other books and articles on your topic

Dictionary  - This resource defines selected words and terms, confirms spelling, definition and pronunciation, explains how words are used, and helps to locate synonyms and antonyms.

Subject Dictionary - These sources focus on the vocabulary of a subject or discipline. (The Penguin dictionary of science

Directory - This source gives contact information such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Encyclopedia (General) - These sets provide summaries of information and ideas in a comprehensive manner. They are useful for providing facts and obtaining a broad survey of a topic. (The encyclopedia Americana)

Subject Encyclopedia  - These sources contain articles on topics within a specific subject. (The encyclopedia of twentieth-century fiction)

Reference Sources

QUICK TIP!...Subject encyclopedias and other reference books are good for background reading on a topic to find out what the general consensus is and what research questions might be viable.

  • Find a selection of print sources available in the reference section on the Communications Header
  • Search the library catalog for reference books by typing "ref AND [your topic]" into the search box.
  • You may need to identify the broader subjects of which your topic is a part in order to find useful reference books (e.g., "music," "popular music," "popular culture," rather than "hip-hop.")

Some Popular Online Reference Collections