Western Libraries

Reference Tools

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Reference tools such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and bibliographies can help you gain a better understanding of the broad topic that your research or assignment topic is dealing with. The background information you find can help you understand the various aspects of any topic, and help you to narrow in on a specific topic for your paper. These tools can also help you identify key concepts and potential words or phrases that you can use when searching for information. They may help you identify key authors or works related to your topic, as well. These tools are available online or in print, depending upon the specific tool.  Look at the Program Guide for the broad subject you are interested in. For more assistance, visit a Library Research Help desk.