Encyclopedias are collections of short, factual entries often written by different contributors who are knowledgeable about the topic. There are two types of encyclopedias -- general and subject. General encyclopedias provide concise overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain in-depth entries focusing on one field of study. The best place to find an encyclopedia is in a library. However, some encyclopedias can be found on the Web.

Use an Encyclopedia

  • when looking for background information on a topic
  • when trying to find key ideas, important dates or concepts


  • Encyclopedia Americana (general encyclopedia)
  • Columbia Encyclopedia (general encyclopedia)
  • African-American Encyclopedia (subject encyclopedia)

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