Reference work

A reference is a book or similar work that provides fast access to knowledge. Pure databases and comparable data collections ( such as telephone books ) are not generally counted among the reference books.

Depending on the character of a work belongs to the scientific aids or aimed at general users. The internal order can be done either in alphabetical order or by another system. Typical reference books are dictionaries and encyclopaedias. The terminology is not always clear.

Traditionally offered Dictionary next to texts sometimes pictures showed: photos, illustrations, information graphics, maps and plans. Digital reference books make it possible to additionally offer audio documents, video sequences and animations. For these contents often the word multimedia is used.

Types of reference works

A variety of plants can be considered as reference books. They can be on an axis between the poles dictionary and introductory literature to classify. Under a dictionary is meant primarily language dictionaries. They explain the use or meaning of words, either in a single language, or translation into another language. The word originally refers to such glossary vocabulary collections.

On the axis works coming towards introductory literature on the series, which always have longer posts for each keyword. The Brockhaus Encyclopedia has relatively short articles that provide quick information and where you can easily refer to each other. For example, the American Collier's Encyclopedia and the Dutch Grote Spectrum Encyclopedie other hand, contain a much longer article. The advantage is that the reader gets to know an issue quite extensively without having to jump from item to ( kindred ) products.

Near the pole introductory literature are the reference books. There are relatively few very long posts in them. You already resemble introduction works for students of a subject.

In a reference one thinks especially an alphabetical order. It is based directly on the language and is thus on the order allgemeingültigsten. But some plants organize the knowledge for a different system, as appropriate contexts. An example of a systematic dictionary is a picture dictionary, in which about all the words on the subject it presented on a page with a detailed image of a car. A work with longer articles after a systematic order is called manual. Chronicles use as an ordering system time.

The Encyclopædia Britannica has been trying since 1974 to combine the advantages of different Nachschlageformen in itself. Some volumes are the Micropedia, an actual reference book with many short posts. The Macropedia other hand, has a long article for in-depth reading. The Propedia is a systematic review of knowledge areas that should serve to get you started, for the first step of the reader.

Experience shows that most users are looking for a reference book quickly and easily a certain knowledge. This is best achieved through the alphabet. Therefore, systematic works or works with long articles and a detailed index (index) should have.

Other examples


The catalogs include exhibition catalogs, museum catalogs, exhibition catalogs, product catalogs, etc. Also, libraries, archives and documentation open up their stocks with a catalog, often only as a file or today in digital form. For most art exhibitions catalogs appear in book form, often with additional information on the subject or artist. Commercial catalogs of suppliers, mail order houses or publishing houses, also the indispensable VLB ( list of available books ) - a bibliography in book form, on CD- ROM or online - is one such catalog.


Bibliographies (including bibliographies ) are lists of references and catalogs for the literature search ( books, magazines, other publications), most thematically ( by area ), Branchenbibliografie or spatially ( discounts, libraries) oriented. The German National Bibliography ( full title: German national bibliography and bibliography of published abroad German publications) is created by the German National Library (DNB ) and is the largest data collection German literature. It covers all the submitted deposit copies of publications in Germany.


An almanac is mostly a yearbook on a specific topic, such as fishing almanac or astronomical yearbooks as the Nautical Almanac. Often with literary and artistic content.


An atlas is a cartographic reference geographic situations: a user-oriented (for example, school atlas ), historically or politically (Historical Atlas ), regionally oriented ( for example, National Atlas ). Not belonging to the cartographic products, but the term in the title using Atlas, include anatomy atlases ( Collection of illustrations with explanations on Body of man).