Business Basics: Encyclopedias ...

Brief introduction to library resources for general business questions.
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Why background?

Background sources  (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, etc.) provide well established summary and factual information. Useful for:

  • basic concepts and established viewpoints
  • historical context and relationships to other topics
  • specialized terms and definitions
  • data, facts, formulas

Online reference collections

Start with one of these online collections of reference books (Gale Virtual Reference Library is my first recommendation). 

Below are some examples of individual encyclopedias and handbooks ...


Handbooks are sort of like encyclopedias, but on steroids!  Entries in them are much longer, and provide more background, bibliographies, and almost always have bylines for the article authors.