DePaul University Libraries
Reference Tools
Reference tools can help you at every stage of your research. Use them to discover a topic of interest, get an overview of an unfamiliar subject, and gather more in-depth information. Good starting points include:

Find information about a specific person, or about groups of individuals who share a characteristic such as a profession, country of origin, or historical period.

Book, Film and Theatre Reviews
Reviews may summarize and evaluate content, or provide valuable historical insights, such as how a creative work or author was originally received.

Citation Guides
Printed style manuals generally provide the most comprehensive information regarding documentation and citation styles. Online guides provide examples for documenting the most commonly used resources and formats.

Current Events and Controversial Topics
This type of research requires an understanding of the context of the discussion. These resources are useful for providing an overview of central issues.

Dictionaries are reference works that typically provide an alphabetical list of words, used to find the spelling, variant spelling, meaning, pronunciation, or origin of a word. They may be general, subject-specific, or foreign language.

Encyclopedias include brief or in-depth articles on a range of subjects. They may be general or subject-specific, and can be used to gather background information about a topic.

Statistics and Data Sets
Statistics are data which has been analyzed and interpreted, while data sets are collections of raw numeric measurements.