Six Common Types of Reference Materials Dictionaries Thesaurus Encyclopedia Atlas Almanac Periodicals
Dictionary Dictionaries are used to look up words. They can be used for a variety of reasons: definition, spelling, pronunciation, word origin, part-of- speech and how it is used in a sentence. There are also many different types of specialized dictionaries such as a Biographical or Geographical dictionary.
Biographical Dictionary Biographical dictionaries are used to find information about famous people. They usually contain brief facts about the person’s life such as: birthdate, major accomplishments and events that have made the person famous. If you wish to find MORE information, you will need to go elsewhere. 4 4
Geographical Dictionary Geographical dictionaries contain information about places. They ARE NOT, however, a book of maps. Geographical dictionaries provide information about a place such as location, population, industry and famous landmarks. The information is very brief but will provide you a starting point to go elsewhere for additional information. 5 5
Thesaurus A Thesaurus is used to find words that mean the same or opposite as another word. These are called synonyms and antonyms. They are simple to use - just look up your word and a thesaurus will give you the list of synonyms and antonyms for that word. A Thesaurus, however, DOES NOT usually provide you with a definition (you need a dictionary for that).
Encyclopedia An Encyclopedia is used to find information about a person, place, or thing. Articles found in an Encyclopedia are usually longer and contain more information than a Dictionary. Encyclopedias are a great place to start to find information about a topic you know nothing about, but are not usually accepted as a source for high school students. Example: Wikipedia!
Atlas An Atlas is a book of maps. Atlases are used to find specific locations such as: country, state, city or geographic formation. Many people use an atlas when they are going on vacation or traveling to another place. There are also specialized atlases such as historical and geographic.
Almanac An Almanac is a book of facts that provide brief, useful and interesting information relating to countries of the world, sports, entertainment, etc. They are updated every year so they always contain the most current information available. 9 9
Do you know? For the next few slides I will describe a situation. You must decide what type of reference material would be the BEST and FASTEST way to find the information.
Challenge Question One• Your family is going on vacation to see the Mayan ruins in Mexico. You want to find more information about the ancient civilization.• Where would you find this type of information?
Challenge Question Two• Your family is planning a vacation to Florida. You are going to Universal Studios! Your father is trying to decide what interstate he needs to take.• What reference material should he use to find this information?
Challenge Question Four• You are writing an essay on To Kill a Mockingbird. You want to find another word to use instead of saying ‘great’.• What reference material would you use to find another word for ‘great’?
Challenge Question Five• Jane is beginning to write an essay in Sophomore English. She is trying to find the birthdate of Ernest Hemingway.• What reference material would she use to quickly find this information?
Reference Materials Reference materials such as dictionaries, a thesaurus, atlases, encyclopedias and almanacs help us locate information QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY. Remember, the Internet is a great resource, but many times information can be found easier by using a reference book!