A reference work is a work such as a
book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The conc ...

periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most familiar example is the magazine ...
(or its electronic equivalent) to which one can refer for
information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The concept of ''information'' has different meanings in d ...

. The information is intended to be found quickly when needed. Reference works are usually ''referred'' to for particular pieces of information, rather than read beginning to end. The writing style used in these works is informative; the authors avoid use of the first person, and emphasize facts. Many reference works are compiled by a team of contributors whose work is coordinated by one or more editors rather than by an individual author. Indices are commonly provided in many types of reference work. Updated editions are usually published as needed, in some cases annually (e.g. '' Whitaker's Almanack'', ''
Who's Who
Who's Who
''). Reference works include dictionaries,
encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. Encyclopedias are divided into article (publishing), art ...
almanac An almanac (also spelled ''almanack'' and ''almanach'') is an annual publicationAnnual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year."Annuals", in ''Encyclopedia of library and inform ...
es, bibliographies, biographical sources, catalogs such as library catalogs and art catalogs, concordances, directories such as business directories and telephone directories, discography, discographies, filmography, filmographies, glossary, glossaries, handbooks, indices such as bibliographic index, bibliographic indices and citation index, citation indices, user guide, manuals, pathfinder (library science), research guides, thesauruses, and yearbooks. Many reference works are available in electronic form and can be obtained as reference software, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or online through the Internet. A reference work is useful to its users if they attribute some degree of trust (emotion), trust.

Reference book

In contrast to books that are library circulation, loaned, a reference book or reference-only book in a library is one that may only be used in the library and may not be borrowed from the library. Many such books are reference works (in the first sense), which are, usually, used briefly or photocopied from, and therefore, do not need to be borrowed. Keeping reference books in the library assures that they will always be available for use on demand. Some reference-only books are too valuable to permit borrowers to take them out. Reference-only items may be shelved in a reference collection located separately from circulating items. Some libraries consist entirely, or to a large extent, of books which may not be borrowed.

Types of reference work

These are the main types and categories of reference work: Abstract (summary), Abstracting journal -a published summary of articles, theses, reviews, conference proceedings etc. arranged systematically Almanac - an annual publication listing a set of current, general or specific, information about one or multiple subjects Annals - concise historical record in which events are arranged chronologically Atlas - a collection of maps traditionally been bound into book form Bibliographies, Bibliography - a systematic list of books and other works such as journal articles on a given subject or which satisfy particular criteria Biographical dictionary - an encyclopedic dictionary limited to biographical information Books of Quotations – collections of quotations satisfying particular criteria ,arranged systematically Chronicle/[Chronology - a historical account of events arranged in chronological order Compendium - a concise collection of information pertaining to a body of knowledge Concordances (publishing), Concordance - an alphabetical list of the principal words used in a book or body of work Dictionary – a list of words from one or more languages, systematically arranged and giving meanings etymologies etc. Digest – a summary of information on a particular subject Directory – a systematically arranged list of names, addresses, products, etc. Encyclopaedia -a compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline Gazetteer - a geographical dictionary or directory used to provide systematic access to a map or atlas Glossary - an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms Handbook - a small or portable book intended to provide ready reference Index – a publication giving systematic access to a body of knowledge Lexicon a synonym for a dictionary or encyclopaedic dictionary List – a published enumeration of a set of items Manual – a handbook providing instructions in the use of a particular product Phrase book - a collection of ready-made phrases, arranged systematically, usually for a foreign language together with a translation Ready reckoner - a printed book or table containing pre-calculated values Catalogues of classical compositions#Thematic catalogue, Thematic catalogue - an index used to identify musical compositions through the citation of the opening notes Thesaurus - a reference work for finding synonyms and sometimes antonyms of words Timetable – a published list of schedules giving times for transportation or other events Yearbook – a compendium containing events relating to a specific year

Electronic resources

An electronic resource is a computer program or data that is stored electronically, which is usually found on a computer, including information that is available on the Internet. Libraries offer numerous types of electronic resources including e-text, electronic texts such as e-book, electronic books and electronic journals, bibliographic databases, institutional repository, institutional repositories, websites, and application software, software applications.


Further reading

;General * * * * ;Guides to reference works * Published annually beginning in 1970. * * * * * * Originally compiled by Alice B. Kroeger for first two editions beginning in 1902. Subsequently edited by Isadore Gilbert Mudge (3rd through 6th editions) and Constance Mabel Winchell (7th and 8th editions). * First published in 1954. * * * (an abridgement of Walford's Guide) {{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 Reference works,