Skip to Main Content Saint Mary's Libraries

What are Reference Sources?

Reference materials (also called reference or background sources) offer quick specific facts or information or an overview of a subject. Some examples of reference sources are: dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, almanacs, directories, atlases, and handbooks. These can be online or in print.

Why Use Reference Sources?

Credible Reliable Sources:

  • Authoritative publishers
  • Articles are written by well respected scholars/experts in the field

Good Background Information:

  • Efficient method to identify key terms, dates, people, theories, definitions, associations

More Effective Database Searching:

  • Provide you with key words to more efficiently search for articles in databases

Bibliographies

  • Most reference articles provide bibliographies that can lead you to new sources in books and journals

Examples from the Winona Library

CREDO Online Reference

Credo Logo

CREDO provides online access to 650+ full text eBooks including encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, and much more.  Searches can be expanded to include articles in SMU databases for more in depth coverage. Try the Mind Map feature to get ideas for related topics and key words

Credo Logo

Other Online Reference Sources

 

Britannica Original Sources logo

Access to over 420,000 primary source documents, complete books, and authentic images.