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Humanities - Shuler (Dale Mabry): Reference

Use this guide to help you find sources for your research paper!

Reference sources have background info

reference books on a shelf

Reference resources, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, can provide background info to help you understand your topic. Reading encyclopedias can also give you search terms to use in the library catalog and databases.

Find physical reference books in the library, and online reference resources linked on this page.

May I cite reference sources?

Your instructor may allow certain reference sources to be cited, especially subject-specific ones - for example, an encyclopedia of art. However, best to ask before including it in your cited sources!

How do I find reference sources?

In the library

Reference books on countries and cultures are in the Library's Reference room, 2nd floor of DLRC. Ask for help in finding what you need.


Step 1.

Search for something in the search bar. It can be a subject, keyword, title of a work, or author. You can use a single word, or a phrase. Hit enter or click the magnifying glass button to search. Tip: put quotation marks around a "title" or exact phrase like "global warming".

Reference step 1

Step 2.

Sign in, choosing "NetID", and follow the prompts for your HCC credentials.

NetID screenshot

Step 3.

In the “Filter your results” section on the left side of the page, click on Resource Type to open different format options for your search results. In this case, click on Reference Entries. If you want only reference entries you can read online, click on the “Available online” option under Availability.

Reference step 2

Step 4.

You should see some results with the words “reference entry” above the title, and the source is usually an encyclopedia of some kind. If the item says it’s available at a library, you can write down the call number and locate it in the library. If it says Available Online, you can click on it to pull up its page.

Reference step 3

Step 5.

Open the title, then under View Online, there should be at least one link for you to follow.

Reference step 4

Bonus: How to find reference databases

Step 1. Click on "Databases A-Z" at the top of the library catalog page.

Click on databases a-z

Step 2: Click on the dropdown menu that says “All Database Types,” then select reference.

Databases narrowed down to reference