Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Fire Science: Reference Sources

What Is a Reference Source?

A reference source is a work used for looking up specific information.

Purpose: Reference works are typically used to look up specific information, and are generally not read from cover to cover like a novel.

Scope: Reference works usually present broad information overviews and/or quick summaries with limited detailed analysis. Some reference books cover broad topics, such as a dictionary of English language, while others cover more focused topics, such as a dictionary of transportation logistics terminology.

Format: Reference works are available in print, media, and electronic format.

Organization: Reference works are arranged in a specific order (such as alphabetical, chronological, topical, etc.) and/or provide tools (indices, hyperlinks, cross-references, etc.) to help the user find information efficiently.

Types of Reference Sources

PLEASE NOTE: To access some of the example resources listed below, enter your My NWACC Connection username and password if prompted.

Almanac: A compilation of statistics and/or specific facts. Examples: Information Please Almanac (open website); Vietnam War Almanac (print book)

Atlas: A collection of maps, illustrations, place names, and/or other information presented geographically or spatially. Examples: Arkansas: An Illustrated Atlas (print book); The Atlas of Human Migration (print book)

Bibliography: A collection of information sources about a specific topic(s) or by a specific author(s). Example: The Pulitzer Prizes: Past Winners and Finalists by Category (open website)

Biographical Dictionary: A collection of short entries providing information about peoples' lives and/or accomplishments. Example: A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers (print book)

Chronology: A list or description of events organized by date of occurrence. Example: The Hutchinson Chronology of World History (subscription ebook)

Concordance: An alphabetical list of phrases or keywords from another work or set of works, often with descriptive or explanatory commentary. Example: Concordance to the Letters of Emily Dickinson (subscription ebook)

Dictionary: An alphabetical list of words or phrases with definitions, often including information about pronunciation, origin, usage, synonyms, or antonyms. Examples: The Visual Dictionary of Photography (print book); The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology (print book); Oxford English Dictionary (subscription database); Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (subscription database)

Directory: A compilation of names of people, organizations, institutions, or businesses with contact, location, and/or other descriptive or evaluative information. Examples: Better Business Bureau (open website)

Encyclopedia: A general or subject-specific collection of brief articles about topics presented as summaries of factual information. Examples: Britannica Online Encyclopedia (subscription database); Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics​ (subscription ebook)

Field Guide:  A resource used to identify wildlife or other objects. Example: Ozark Wildflowers (print book); Rocks & Fossils: A Visual Guide (print book)

Gazetteer: An alphabetical list of geographic locations without maps. Example: Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary (subscription ebook)

Guidebook: A descriptive work about a specific geographic area(s), typically created for travelers or newcomers. Example: Unforgettable Walks to Take Before You Die (print book)

Handbook: A brief overview of a topic. Examples: The Curious Researcher: A Guide to Writing Research Papers (print book); Mathematics and Disabilities Handbook: A Guide for Students with LD, ADHD, TBI and Wounded Warriors (print book)

Index: An alphabetical list of keywords, people, places, resources, events, etc. that often includes information for finding sources or entries within a work or collection of works. Example: Television Program Master Index : Access to Critical and Historical Information on 2,273 Shows in Books, Dissertations and Journal Articles (ebook)

Manual: A guide that explains how to use an object(s), how to complete a task(s), or how an organization operates. Examples: Arkansas Criminal and Traffic Law Manual (print book); The Green Roof Manual: A Professional Guide to Design, Installation, and Maintenance (print book)

Style Manual: A guide that provides the rules and conventions for writing, formatting, or publishing for a particular publisher or within a particular discipline. Examples: The Chicago Manual of Style (print book); MLA Handbook (print book); Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association [APA] (print book); American Sociological Association [ASA] Style Guide (print book)

Thesaurus: An alphabetical list of words and terms with synonyms. Examples: Oxford Thesaurus of English (print book)

Yearbook: A summary of events from one year; may be restricted topically and/or geographically. Example: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook, 2015 (ebook).

Reference Databases

The following Library subscription databases contain reference materials. This is an incomplete list; see also our full list of research databases.

Use your MyNWACC Connection username and password for off-campus access.

  • Burns Hall 1304
    1 College Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712
  • Call: 479-619-4244 | Text: 479-802-0570
  • About Us
  • Check us out on Facebook Watch us on YouTubeEmail Us