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An encyclopedia (
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
), encyclopædia (archaic spelling), or encyclopaedia (
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
) is a
reference work A reference work is a work, such as a book or periodical literature, periodical (or electronic publishing, their electronic equivalents), to which one can refer for information. The information is intended to be found quickly when needed. Such ...
or
compendium A compendium (plural: compendia) is a concise collection of information pertaining to a body of knowledgeA body of knowledge (BOK or BoK) is the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional A professional is a membe ...

compendium
providing summaries of
knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to exp ...
either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. Encyclopedias are divided into articles or entries that are often arranged
alphabetically Alphabetical order is a system whereby character strings are placed in order based on the position of the characters in the conventional ordering of an alphabet. It is one of the methods of collation. In mathematics, a lexicographical order is t ...
by article name and sometimes by thematic categories. Encyclopedia entries are longer and more detailed than those in most
dictionaries A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer ...

dictionaries
. Generally speaking, encyclopedia articles focus on ''
fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things ...
ual information'' concerning the subject named in the article's title; this is unlike dictionary entries, which focus on
linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguistic
information about
word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many languages, words also cor ...

word
s, such as their
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of words. By extension, th ...
, meaning,
pronunciation Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful d ...
, use, and grammatical forms.Béjoint, Henri (2000)
''Modern Lexicography''
pp. 30–31. Oxford University Press.
Encyclopedias have existed for around 2,000 years and have evolved considerably during that time as regards language (written in a major international or a vernacular language), size (few or many volumes), intent (presentation of a global or a limited range of knowledge), cultural perspective (authoritative, ideological, didactic, utilitarian), authorship (qualifications, style), readership (education level, background, interests, capabilities), and the technologies available for their production and distribution (hand-written manuscripts, small or large print runs, Internet). As a valued source of reliable information compiled by experts, printed versions found a prominent place in libraries, schools and other educational institutions. The appearance of digital and open-source versions in the 21st century, such as
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
, has vastly expanded the accessibility, authorship, readership, and variety of encyclopedia entries.


Etymology

The word ''
encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, Ameri ...
'' (''encyclo'', ''pedia'') comes from the
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, Greek spoken and written d ...
,
transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → , Cyrillic → , Greek → the digraph , Armenian → or ...
, meaning 'general education' from (), meaning 'circular, recurrent, required regularly, general' and (), meaning 'education, rearing of a child'; together, the phrase literally translates as 'complete instruction' or 'complete knowledge'. However, the two separate words were reduced to a single word due to a scribal error by copyists of a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
manuscript edition of
Quintillian Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (; 35 – 100 AD) was a Roman educator and rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Tri ...
in 1470. The copyists took this phrase to be a single Greek word, ''enkyklopaedia'', with the same meaning, and this spurious Greek word became the
New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or modern Latin) is the revival of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
word ''encyclopaedia'', which in turn came into English. Because of this compounded word, fifteenth-century readers and since have often, and incorrectly, thought that the Roman authors
Quintillian Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (; 35 – 100 AD) was a Roman educator and rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Tri ...
and
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...
described an ancient genre.


Characteristics

The modern encyclopedia was developed from the
dictionary A dictionary is a listing of lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refe ...

dictionary
in the 18th century. Historically, both encyclopedias and dictionaries have been researched and written by well-educated, well-informed content
expert An expert is somebody who has a broad and deep competence in terms of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or obj ...

expert
s, but they are significantly different in structure. A dictionary is a linguistic work which primarily focuses on alphabetical listing of
words In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis inclu ...

words
and their
definitions A definition is a statement of the meaning of a term (a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical me ...

definitions
.
Synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, ...
ous words and those related by the subject matter are to be found scattered around the dictionary, giving no obvious place for in-depth treatment. Thus, a dictionary typically provides limited
information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of values of qualitative property, qualitative or quant ...

information
,
analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Ari ...
or background for the word defined. While it may offer a definition, it may leave the reader lacking in
understanding Understanding is a psychological Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic disc ...

understanding
the meaning, significance or limitations of a term, and how the term relates to a broader field of knowledge. To address those needs, an encyclopedia article is typically not limited to simple definitions, and is not limited to defining an individual word, but provides a more extensive meaning for a ''subject or
discipline Discipline is action ACTION is a bus operator in Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as the seat of government for the new n ...
''. In addition to defining and listing synonymous terms for the topic, the article is able to treat the topic's more extensive meaning in more depth and convey the most relevant accumulated knowledge on that subject. An encyclopedia article also often includes many
map A map is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different s and s. A ...

map
s and
illustration An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digital published media, such as poster A poster is a temporary promotion of an idea, product, or even ...

illustration
s, as well as
bibliography Image:Library-shelves-bibliographies-Graz.jpg, 250px, Bibliographies at the University Library of Graz Bibliography (from and ), as a discipline, is traditionally the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is a ...
and
statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statistical ...

statistics
. An encyclopedia is, theoretically, not written in order to convince, although one of its goals is indeed to convince its reader of its own veracity.


Four major elements

Four major elements define an encyclopedia: its subject matter, its scope, its method of organization, and its method of production: # Encyclopedias can be general, containing articles on topics in every field (the English-language ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it be ...
'' and German '' Brockhaus'' are well-known examples). General encyclopedias may contain guides on how to do a variety of things, as well as embedded dictionaries and
gazetteer A gazetteer is a geographical or used in conjunction with a map or .Aurousseau, 61. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup, and physical features of a country, region, or continent. Content of a gazetteer can incl ...
s. There are also encyclopedias that cover a wide variety of topics from a particular cultural, ethnic, or national perspective, such as the ''
Great Soviet Encyclopedia 260 px, The second edition from 1950 The ''Great Soviet Encyclopedia'' (GSE; ) is one of the largest Russian-language encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes calle ...
'' or ''
Encyclopaedia Judaica The ''Encyclopaedia Judaica'' is a 22-volume English-language encyclopedia of the Jewish people and of Judaism. It covers diverse areas of the Jewish world and civilization, including Jewish history of all eras, culture, Jewish holiday, holidays, ...
''. # Works of encyclopedic scope aim to convey the important accumulated knowledge for their subject domain, such as an encyclopedia of
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existen ...

philosophy
or
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
. Works vary in the breadth of material and the depth of discussion, depending on the
target audience A target audience is the intended audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creation of aesthe ...
. # Some systematic method of organization is essential to making an encyclopedia usable for reference. There have historically been two main methods of organizing printed encyclopedias: the alphabetical method (consisting of a number of separate articles, organized in alphabetical order) and organization by
hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarch ...

hierarchical
categories. The former method is today the more common, especially for general works. The fluidity of
electronic media Electronic media are media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Br ...
, however, allows new possibilities for multiple methods of organization of the same content. Further, electronic media offer new capabilities for search, indexing and cross reference. The
epigraph Epigraph may refer to: * An inscription, as studied in the archeological sub-discipline of epigraphy * Epigraph (literature), a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component * Epigraph (mathematics), the set of ...
from
Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from ...

Horace
on the title page of the 18th century ''Encyclopédie'' suggests the importance of the structure of an encyclopedia: "What grace may be added to commonplace matters by the power of order and connection." # As modern multimedia and the information age have evolved, new methods have emerged for the collection, verification, summation, and presentation of information of all kinds. Projects such as
Everything2 Everything2 (styled Everything2 or E2 for short) is a collaborative Web-based community consisting of a database of interlinked user-submitted written material. E2 is moderated for quality, but has no formal policy on subject matter. Writing on ...
,
Encarta ''Microsoft Encarta'' was a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics comprise ...

Encarta
,
h2g2 The h2g2 website is a British-based collaborative online encyclopedia project. It describes itself as "an unconventional guide to life, the universe, and everything", in the spirit of the fictional publication ''The Hitchhiker's Guide to ...
, and
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
are examples of new forms of the encyclopedia as
information retrieval Information retrieval (IR) in computing and information science is the process of obtaining information system resources that are relevant to an information need from a collection of those resources. Searches can be based on full-text search, fu ...
becomes simpler. The method of production for an encyclopedia historically has been supported in both for-profit and non-profit contexts. The ''
Great Soviet Encyclopedia 260 px, The second edition from 1950 The ''Great Soviet Encyclopedia'' (GSE; ) is one of the largest Russian-language encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes calle ...
'' mentioned above was entirely state sponsored, while the ''Britannica'' was supported as a for-profit institution. By comparison, Wikipedia is supported by volunteers contributing in a non-profit environment under the organization of the
Wikimedia Foundation The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an United States, American non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. The Foundation (nonprofit), foundation supports and participates in the W ...
.


Encyclopedic dictionaries

Some works entitled "dictionaries" are actually similar to encyclopedias, especially those concerned with a particular field (such as the ''
Dictionary of the Middle Ages 150px, ''Dictionary of the Middle Ages: Supplement 1'' (2004) The ''Dictionary of the Middle Ages'' is a 13-volume encyclopedia of the Middle Ages published by the American Council of Learned Societies between 1982 and 1989. It was first conceive ...
'', the ''
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships The ''Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships'' (''DANFS'') is the official reference work for the basic facts about ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carryi ...
'', and ''
Black's Law Dictionary ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most widely used law dictionary Image:Legal Dictionaries.jpg, 300px, Several English and Russian legal dictionaries A law dictionary (also known as legal dictionary) is a dictionary that is designed and compiled to ...
''). The ''
Macquarie Dictionary The ''Macquarie Dictionary'' () is a dictionary of Australian English. It is generally considered by universities and the legal profession to be the authoritative source on Australian English. It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand Eng ...
,'' Australia's national dictionary, became an
encyclopedic dictionary Title page from the 1894 four volume version of Robert Hunter's ''The Encyclopædic Dictionary''. An encyclopedic dictionary typically includes many short listings, arranged alphabetically, and discussing a wide range of topics. Encyclopedic di ...
after its first edition in recognition of the use of proper nouns in common communication, and the words derived from such proper nouns.


Differences between encyclopedias and dictionaries

There are some broad differences between encyclopedias and dictionaries. Most noticeably, encyclopedia articles are longer, fuller and more thorough than entries in most general-purpose dictionaries. There are differences in content as well. Generally speaking, dictionaries provide
linguistic Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistic
information about words themselves, while encyclopedias focus more on the thing for which those words stand. Thus, while dictionary entries are inextricably fixed to the word described, encyclopedia articles can be given a different entry name. As such, dictionary entries are not fully translatable into other languages, but encyclopedia articles can be. In practice, however, the distinction is not concrete, as there is no clear-cut difference between factual, "encyclopedic" information and linguistic information such as appears in dictionaries. Thus encyclopedias may contain material that is also found in dictionaries, and vice versa. In particular, dictionary entries often contain factual information about the thing named by the word.


Largest encyclopedias

As of the early 2020s, the largest encyclopedias are the
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
Baike.com (18 million articles) and
Baidu Baike Baidu Baike (; ) is a Chinese-language collaborative online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is ...
(16 million), followed by
English Wikipedia The English Wikipedia is the English-language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading ...
(6 million),
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
(+2 million) and
French Wikipedia The French Wikipedia (french: Wikipédia en français) is the French-language edition of the free online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyc ...
(+2 million), all of which are wholly online. More than a dozen other Wikipedias have 1 million articles or more, of variable quality and length. Measuring an encyclopedia's size by its articles is an ambiguous method since the online
Chinese encyclopedias Chinese encyclopedias comprise both Chinese-language 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 ...
cited above allow multiple articles on the same topic, while Wikipedia's accept only one single common article per topic but allow automated creation of nearly empty articles.


History

Encyclopedias have progressed from the beginning of history in written form, through medieval and modern times in print, and most recently, displayed on computer and distributed via computer networks, including the Internet.


Written encyclopedias

The earliest encyclopedic work to have survived to modern times is the ''
Naturalis Historia The ''Natural History'' ( la, Naturalis Historia) is a work by Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, ...
'' of
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
, a
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
statesman living in the 1st century AD. He compiled a work of 37 chapters covering
natural history Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study. A person who studies natural history ...

natural history
, architecture, medicine,
geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geography
, geology, and all aspects of the world around him. This work became very popular in
Antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
, was one of the first classical manuscripts to be printed in 1470, and has remained popular ever since as a source of information on the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible Roman ...
world, and especially
Roman art The art of Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A his ...
,
Roman technology Roman technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods, processes, and engineering practices which supported Roman civilization and made possible the expansion of the economy and military of ancient Rome (753 BC – 476 AD). The Roman Em ...
and
Roman engineering The ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography o ...
. The Spanish scholar
Isidore of Seville Isidore of Seville (; la, Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560 – 4 April 636) was a Spanish scholar and cleric. For over three decades, he was Archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ...
was the first Christian writer to try to compile a ''
summa Summa and its diminutive summula (plural ''summae'' and ''summulae'', respectively) was a medieval didactics literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically consider ...
'' of universal knowledge, the ''
Etymologiae ''Etymologiae'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Ro ...
'' (c. 600–625), also known by classicists as the ''Origines'' (abbreviated ''Orig''.). This encyclopedia—the first such Christian
epitome An epitome (; gr, ἐπιτομή, from ἐπιτέμνειν ''epitemnein'' meaning "to cut short") is a summary or miniature form, or an instance that represents a larger reality, also used as a synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A m ...
—formed a huge compilation of 448 chapters in 20 volumesMacFarlane 1980:4; MacFarlane translates ''Etymologiae'' viii. based on hundreds of classical sources, including ''Natural Historia''. Of Etymologiae in its time it was said ''quaecunque fere sciri debentur'', "practically everything that it is necessary to know". Among the areas covered were:
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
,
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
,
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no general consensus abo ...
,
geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures. A mat ...

geometry
,
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
,
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
,
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
, the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3 billion Catholics . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history ...

Catholic Church
and
heretical Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
sects,
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin, Latin language recognized as a Literary language, literary standard language, standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was used from 75 BC ...

pagan
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

philosopher
s,
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private and public, and ...

language
s,
cities A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped to ...
,
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are organisms that form the Animalia. With few exceptions, animals , , are , can , and grow from a hollow sphere of , the , during . Over 1.5 million animal have been —of which around 1 million are —b ...

animal
s and
bird Birds are a group of s constituting the Aves , characterised by s, toothless beaked jaws, the of eggs, a high rate, a four-chambered , and a strong yet lightweight . Birds live worldwide and range in size from the to the . There ar ...

bird
s, the
physical world The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the pas ...

physical world
,
geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geography
,
public buildings A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory. Buildings come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and functions, and have been adapted throughout history for a w ...

public buildings
,
road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadways (British English: carriageways), each with one or more lanes and any ...

road
s,
metals A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mi ...
,
rocks In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proc ...

rocks
,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of , whereby farming of species created food that enabled people to live in cities. The began thousands of ...

agriculture
,
ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fishing. Ships are generally disti ...

ship
s,
clothes Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabrics or s, but over time it has included garments made from and other thin sheets of materials and natural products found in ...

clothes
,
food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional Nutrition is the biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organism In biology, an organism (from Anci ...

food
, and
tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tool A stone tool is, in the most general sense, a ...

tool
s. Another Christian encyclopedia was the ''Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum'' of
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
(543-560) dedicated to the Christian Divinity and to the seven liberal arts. The encyclopedia of
Suda First page of an early printed edition of the ''Suda'' The ''Suda'' or ''Souda'' (; grc-x-medieval, Σοῦδα, Soûda; la, Suidae Lexicon) is a large 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British Engli ...

Suda
, a massive 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia, had 30 000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often derived from medieval
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
compilers. The text was arranged alphabetically with some slight deviations from common vowel order and place in the Greek alphabet. From India, the
Siribhoovalaya The ''Siribhoovalaya'' ( kn, ಸಿರಿಭೂವಲಯ) is a work of multi-lingual literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an ...
(Kannada: ಸಿರಿಭೂವಲಯ), dated between 800 A.D to 15th century, is a work of kannada literature written by Kumudendu Muni, a Jain monk. It is unique because rather than employing alphabets, it is composed entirely in Kannada numerals. Many philosophies which existed in the Jain classics are eloquently and skillfully interpreted in the work. The enormous encyclopedic work in China of the ''Four Great Books of Song'', compiled by the 11th century during the early Song dynasty (960–1279), was a massive literary undertaking for the time. The last encyclopedia of the four, the ''Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau'', amounted to 9.4 million Chinese characters in 1000 written volumes. There were many great encyclopedists throughout Chinese history, including the scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) with his ''Dream Pool Essays'' of 1088, the statesman, inventor, and agronomist Wang Zhen (official), Wang Zhen (active 1290–1333) with his ''Nong Shu'' of 1313, and the written ''Tiangong Kaiwu'' of Song Yingxing (1587–1666), the latter of whom was termed the "Denis Diderot, Diderot of China" by British historian Joseph Needham.Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 102.


Printed encyclopedias

Before the advent of the printing press, encyclopedic works were all hand copied and thus rarely available, beyond wealthy patrons or monastic men of learning: they were expensive, and usually written for those extending knowledge rather than those using it. During the Renaissance, the creation of printing allowed a wider diffusion of encyclopedias and every scholar could have his or her own copy. The ' by Giorgio Valla was posthumously printed in 1501 by Aldo Manuzio in Venice. This work followed the traditional scheme of liberal arts. However, Valla added the translation of ancient Greek works on mathematics (firstly by Archimedes), newly discovered and translated. The ''Margarita Philosophica'' by Gregor Reisch, printed in 1503, was a complete encyclopedia explaining the seven liberal arts. Financial, commercial, legal, and intellectual factors changed the size of encyclopedias. Middle classes had more time to read and encyclopedias helped them to learn more. Publishers wanted to increase their output so some countries like Germany started selling books missing alphabetical sections, to publish faster. Also, publishers could not afford all the resources by themselves, so multiple publishers would come together with their resources to create better encyclopedias. Later, rivalry grew, causing copyright to occur due to weak underdeveloped laws. John Harris (writer), John Harris is often credited with introducing the now-familiar alphabetic format in 1704 with his English ''Lexicon Technicum: Or, A Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves'' – to give its full title. Organized alphabetically, its content does indeed contain explanation not merely of the terms used in the arts and sciences, but of the arts and sciences themselves. Isaac Newton, Sir Isaac Newton contributed his only published work on chemistry to the second volume of 1710. The ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it be ...
'', had a modest beginning in Scotland: the first edition, issued between 1768 and 1771, had just three hastily completed volumes – A–B, C–L, and M–Z – with a total of 2,391 pages. By 1797, when the third edition was completed, it had been expanded to 18 volumes addressing a full range of topics, with articles contributed by a range of authorities on their subjects. The German-language ''Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, Conversations-Lexikon'' was published at Leipzig from 1796 to 1808, in 6 volumes. Paralleling other 18th century encyclopedias, its scope was expanded beyond that of earlier publications, in an effort at comprehensiveness. It was, however, intended not for scholarly use but to provide results of research and discovery in a simple and popular form without extensive detail. This format, a contrast to the ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', was widely imitated by later 19th century encyclopedias in Britain, the United States, France, Spain, Italy and other countries. Of the influential late-18th century and early-19th century encyclopedias, the ''Conversations-Lexikon'' is perhaps most similar in form to today's encyclopedias. The ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' appeared in various editions throughout the nineteenth century, and the growth of popular education and the Mechanics' Institutes, spearheaded by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge led to the production of the ''Penny Cyclopaedia'', as its title suggests issued in weekly numbers at a penny each like a newspaper. In the early 20th century, the ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' reached its eleventh edition, and inexpensive encyclopedias such as ''Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia'' and ''Everyman's Encyclopaedia'' were common. In the United States, the 1950s and 1960s saw the introduction of several large popular encyclopedias, often sold on installment plans. The best known of these were ''World Book'' and ''Funk and Wagnalls''. As many as 90% were sold door to door. Jack Lynch says in his book ''You Could Look It Up'' that encyclopedia salespeople were so common that they became the butt of jokes. He describes their sales pitch saying, "They were selling not books but a lifestyle, a future, a promise of social mobility." A 1961 ''World Book'' ad said, "You are holding your family's future in your hands right now," while showing a feminine hand holding an order form.


Digital encyclopedias

By the late 20th century, encyclopedias were being published on CD-ROMs for use with personal computers. Microsoft's ''
Encarta ''Microsoft Encarta'' was a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics comprise ...

Encarta
'', launched in 1993, was a landmark example as it had no printed equivalent. Articles were supplemented with video and audio files as well as numerous high-quality images. After sixteen years, Microsoft discontinued the Encarta line of products in 2009. Digital encyclopedias enable "Encyclopedia Services" (e.g. meta:Wikimedia Enterprise, Wikimedia Enterprise) to facilitate programatic access to the content.


Free encyclopedias

The concept of a free encyclopedia began with the Interpedia proposal on Usenet in 1993, which outlined an Internet-based online encyclopedia to which anyone could submit content and that would be freely accessible. Early projects in this vein included
Everything2 Everything2 (styled Everything2 or E2 for short) is a collaborative Web-based community consisting of a database of interlinked user-submitted written material. E2 is moderated for quality, but has no formal policy on subject matter. Writing on ...
and Open Site. In 1999, Richard Stallman proposed the GNUPedia, an online encyclopedia which, similar to the GNU operating system, would be a "generic" resource. The concept was very similar to Interpedia, but more in line with Stallman's GNU philosophy. It was not until Nupedia and later Wikipedia that a stable free encyclopedia project was able to be established on the Internet. The
English Wikipedia The English Wikipedia is the English-language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading ...
, which was started in 2001, became the world's largest encyclopedia in 2004 at the 300,000 article stage. By late 2005, Wikipedia had produced over two million articles in more than 80 languages with content licensed under the copyleft GNU Free Documentation License. As of August 2009, Wikipedia had over 3 million articles in English and well over 10 million combined in over 250 languages. Wikipedia currently has Special:Statistics, articles in English. Since 2003, other free encyclopedias like the Chinese-language
Baidu Baike Baidu Baike (; ) is a Chinese-language collaborative online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is ...
and Hudong, as well as English language encyclopedias like Citizendium and Knol have appeared. Knol has been discontinued.


Online encyclopedias

In January 1995, Project Gutenberg started to publish the ASCII text of the ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it be ...
'', 11th edition (1911), but disagreement about the method halted the work after the first volume. For trademark reasons this has been published as the ''Gutenberg Encyclopedia''. Project Gutenberg later restarted work on digitising and proofreading this encyclopedia. Project Gutenberg has published volumes in alphabetic order the most recent publication is ''Volume 17 Slice 8: Matter–Mecklenburg'' published on 7 April 2013. The latest ''Britannica'' was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM, and later as an online service. In 2001, ASCII text of all 28 volumes was published on Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' Eleventh Edition by source; a copyright claim was added to the materials included. The website no longer exists. Other digitization projects have made progress in other titles. One example is ''Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897)'' digitized by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. A successful digitization of an encyclopedia was the Bartleby.com, Bartleby Project's online adaptation of the ''Columbia Encyclopedia'', Sixth Edition, in early 2000 and is updated periodically. Other websites provide online encyclopedias, some of which are also available on Wikisource, but which may be more complete than those on Wikisource, or maybe different editions (see List of online encyclopedias). Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free content on a volunteer basis. In 1991, the participants of the Usenet newsgroup started a project to produce a real version of ''The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'', a fictional encyclopedia used in the works of Douglas Adams. It became known as Project Galactic Guide. Although it originally aimed to contain only real, factual articles, the policy was changed to allow and encourage semi-real and unreal articles as well. Project Galactic Guide contains over 1700 articles, but no new articles have been added since 2000; this is probably partly due to the founding of
h2g2 The h2g2 website is a British-based collaborative online encyclopedia project. It describes itself as "an unconventional guide to life, the universe, and everything", in the spirit of the fictional publication ''The Hitchhiker's Guide to ...
, a more official project along similar lines. The 1993 Interpedia proposal was planned as an encyclopedia on the Internet to which everyone could contribute materials. The project never left the planning stage and was overtaken by a key branch of old printed encyclopedias. Another early online encyclopedia was called the ''Global Encyclopedia''. In November 1995 a review of it was presented by James Rettig (Assistant Dean of University Libraries for Reference and Information Services) College of William & Mary at the 15th Annual Charleston Conference on library acquisitions and related issues. He said of the ''Global Encyclopedia'': He then gives several examples of article entries such as Iowa City, Iowa, Iowa City:
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, or a digital encyclopedia, is an encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) ...

Wikipedia
is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia written and maintained by a community of volunteer contributors through a model of open collaboration. It is the largest and most-read
reference work A reference work is a work, such as a book or periodical literature, periodical (or electronic publishing, their electronic equivalents), to which one can refer for information. The information is intended to be found quickly when needed. Such ...
in history, Wikipedia originally developed from another encyclopedia project called Nupedia.


CD-Rom Encyclopedias

A CD-ROM encyclopedia is an encyclopedia delivered as reference software on a CD-ROM disc for use on a personal computer. This was the usual way computer users accessed encyclopedic knowledge from the 1980s and 1990s . Later DVD discs replaced CD-ROMs and from mid-2000s internet encyclopedias became dominant and replaced disc-based software encyclopedias. Some examples of CD-ROM encyclopedia are ''
Encarta ''Microsoft Encarta'' was a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics comprise ...

Encarta
'', Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, and Britannica. CD-ROM encyclopedias were usually a macOS or Microsoft Windows (3.0, 3.1 or 95/98) application on a CD-ROM disc. The user would execute the encyclopedia's software program to see a menu that allowed them to start browsing the encyclopedia's articles, and most encyclopedias also supported a way to search the contents of the encyclopedia. The article text was usually Hyperlink, hyperlinked and also included Photograph, photographs, Digital audio, audio clips (for example in articles about historical speeches or musical instruments), and Video clip, video clips. In the CD-ROM age the video clips had usually a low resolution, often 160x120 or 320x240 pixels. Such encyclopedias which made use of photos, audio and video were also called Multimedia, multimedia encyclopedias. However, because of the online encyclopedia, CD-ROM encyclopedias have been declared obsolete.


See also

* Bibliography of encyclopedias * Biographical dictionary * Encyclopedic knowledge * Encyclopedism * Fictitious entry * History of science and technology * Lexicography * Library science * Lists of encyclopedias * Thesaurus * Speculum literature


Notes


References

* * * * C. Codoner, S. Louis, M. Paulmier-Foucart, D. Hüe, M. Salvat, A. Llinares, ''L'Encyclopédisme. Actes du Colloque de Caen'', A. Becq (dir.), Paris, 1991. * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Encyclopaedia and Hypertext


– Biographical errors in encyclopedias and almanacs
Encyclopedia
– Diderot's article on the Encyclopedia from the original Encyclopédie.
De expetendis et fugiendis rebus
– First Renaissance encyclopedia

* [https://web.archive.org/web/20131109213126/http://reviews.cnet.com/1990-3118_7-6378998-1.html Digital encyclopedias put the world at your fingertips] CNET article
Encyclopedias online
University of Wisconsin Stout listing by category
Chambers' ''Cyclopaedia''
1728, with the 1753 supplement
''Encyclopædia Americana''
1851, Francis Lieber ed. (Boston: Mussey & Co.) at the University of Michigan Making of America site
''Encyclopædia Britannica''
articles and illustrations from 9th ed., 1875–89, and 10th ed., 1902–03. * {{Authority control Encyclopedias, Works about history