Reference Tools

Whether you're writing a research report and need some help with citations, need a synonym for "impulsive" (what about capricious?), or an obscure article from '97, this page is sure to have a helpful link or two.

In the old days, students worked with a giant dictionary and a thesaurus on their desks. Today, thousands of reference materials are available through your computer. You can access technology resources, academic societies and interest groups, and educational videos — just by logging on.

The following tools are easy to use and easy to bookmark. Keep them handy when you're studying!

General Reference

Internet Public Library

Fortified by a merger with the Librarians' Index to the Internet, this is a collection of resources by subject, periodicals, special collections, and resources for children and adolescents.

Internet Public Library: Reference

A key part of the Internet Public Library is this resource, which consists of all of the basic research tools such as dictionaries and encyclopedias that you expect to find in a library -- and more! is a free virtual library resource center for educators and students, librarians and their patrons, families, businesses and just about anyone exploring the Web for valuable research information. Sites featured on are hand-selected and reviewed by an editorial team for their exceptional quality, content and utility.

Yahoo! Reference

Whether you're a student, a parent, or just plain curious, Yahoo! Reference offers a handy selection of books and materials to help you find the information you need. Look up a definition in the dictionary, find map and flag images for every country in the world in the World Factbook, get in-depth information from the encyclopedia, and much more.



Merriam-Webster Online

Merriam-Webster provides a free online dictionary, thesaurus, audio pronunciations, Word of the Day, word games, and other English language resources.

This is a free online English dictionary, thesaurus and reference guide, crossword puzzles and other word games, online translator and Word of the Day.


Wiktionary is to a dictionary what Wikipedia is to an encyclopedia: a massive reference work where definitions for words and phrases are submitted and revised by the users themselves.

Yahoo! Directory Language Dictionaries

Yahoo! Search Directory's listing of language dictionaries from Afrikaans to Yiddish.


A language arts reference tool and comprehensive search engine for words. Includes the functions of a rhyming dictionary, thesaurus, and spelling checker, as well as an integrated full-text search engine for all of Shakespeare's works and thousands of quotations and poems."

MedTerms Medical Dictionary

MedTerms online medical dictionary is the medical reference for, containing easy-to-understand explanations of over 10,000 medical terms. This online medical dictionary provides quick access to hard-to-spell medical definitions through an extensive alphabetical listing.

ArtLex Art Dictionary

You'll find definitions for more than 3,500 terms used in discussing visual culture, along with thousands of supporting images, pronunciation notes, great quotations and cross-references. contains more than 2,500 Western signs, arranged into 54 groups according to their graphic characteristics. In 1,600 articles their histories, uses, and meanings are thoroughly discussed. The signs range from ideograms carved in mammoth teeth by Cro-Magnons, to hobo signs and subway graffiti.


Sponsored by, this online computer dictionary and Internet search engine focuses on computer and Internet technology definitions.

Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures

This is a dictionary of algorithms, algorithmic techniques, data structures, archetypical problems, and related definitions. Algorithms include common functions, such as Ackermann's function. Problems include traveling salesman and Byzantine generals. Some entries have links to implementations and more information.

Biographical Dictionary

This dictionary covers more than 28,000 notable men and women who have shaped our world from ancient times to the present day. The dictionary can be searched by birth years, death years, positions held, professions, literary and artistic works, achievements, and other keywords.



Merriam-Webster Online

Merriam-Webster provides a free online dictionary, thesaurus, audio pronunciations, Word of the Day, word games, and other English language resources.

Roget’s International Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

Mawson’s modernization of the classic structure becomes even more user-friendly on with 85,000 hyperlinked cross-references. Additionally, over 2,200 quotations from classic and modern authors illustrate the 1,000-plus entries.

A service of, this thesaurus and dictionary of synonyms bills itself as being the largest and most trusted on the web.

Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus

Designed for visual thinkers, The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates graphical word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words.


Encyclopedias and Research

The World Factbook

The World Factbook is an encyclopedia of countries, with entries for each country and autonomous territory. It contains information about the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues of each country. It was first published by the CIA in August 1962, the first unclassified version was published in June 1971 and the 1975 Factbook was the first to be made easily available to the public. The Factbook was first made available on the Internet in June 1997., the Internet's premiere free encyclopedia, provides users with more than 57,000 frequently updated articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Each article is enhanced with links to newspaper and magazine articles as well as pictures and maps - all provided by eLibrary.


Wikipedia is a free content wiki encyclopedia being written collaboratively by contributors from around the world. As of May 2010, there are 3.3 million articles in English; every day millions of visitors from around the world make millions of edits and create tens of thousands of new articles.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

HighBeam Research

Search this extensive archive of more than 32 million documents from 2,800 sources — a vast collection of articles from leading publications, updated daily and going back as far as 20 years. Save your searches, save articles and set up alerts to save time and increase your efficiency. HighBeam Research offers both basic (free) and full membership options.


Questia is the first online library that provides 24/7 access to the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles. You can search each and every word of all of the books and journal articles in the collection. You can read every title cover to cover. Questia requires a monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription.

The Free Library

Originally established to make free, full-text versions of classic literary works available, The Free Library has been expanded to include a massive collection of periodicals from hundreds of leading publications covering Business and Industry, Communications, Entertainment, Health, Humanities, Law, Government, Politics, Recreation and Leisure, Science and Technology, and Social Sciences. This collection includes millions of articles dating back to 1984 as well as newly-published articles that are added to the site daily.

A service of BNET, part of the CBS Busines Network, is a gateway to thousands of articles from periodicals on a wide variety of subjects.

HighWire Press

Stanford University's HighWire Press is the largest archive of free full-text science available. As of May 2010 it links to two million free full-text articles in a vast array of disciplines.



Strunk, William, Jr. 1918. The Elements of Style

Asserting that one must first know the rules to break them, this classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. Intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.

How to Cite/Format References for Research Papers

This website features a collection of links to websites that explain how to properly use American Psychological Association (APA) Style, Modern Language Association (MLA) Style, American Medical Association (AMA) Style, Chicago Manual of Style, and Turabian Style for writing research papers.

A Guide for Writing Research Papers Based on Modern Language Association (MLA) Documentation

Recommendations here are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. It is important to note, however, that individual instructors and institutions or departments may vary from these recommendations somewhat and that it is always wise to consult with your instructor before formatting and submitting your work.

A Guide for Writing Research Papers Based on Styles Recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA)

This guide is based on a document prepared in 1995 by Patricia S. Burgess, Ph.D., a volunteer staff member for America Online, and subsequently modified and updated for use on the World Wide Web by members of the Humanities Department and library staff at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. In March and April of 1997, it was modified to its present question-and-answer format, and in 2001 it was updated to cover the fifth edition of the APA format.

Purdue University Online Writing Lab

This widely praised comprehensive writing resource offers over 200 free resources including writing, teaching writing, research, grammar and mechanics, style guides, English as a second language, and job search and professional writing.



PRIME Encyclopedia

The PRIME encyclopedia from Platonic Realms is collection of articles on mathematical concepts that is designed to be browsed alphabetically. Articles are linked among one another as needed. is dedicated to providing revolutionary ways for students, parents, teachers, and everyone to learn math. Combining educationally sound principles with proprietary technology, offers a unique experience that quickly guides the user to the solutions they need and the products they want.

Professor Freedman's Math Help

This site provides information about basic math, algebra, study skills, math anxiety and learning styles and specifically addresses the needs of the community college adult learner. A student who is frustrated by college math can be helped by identifying his individual learning style and recognizing the instructor's teaching style. This site provides links for students and teachers to information about learning styles, study skills tips, and ways to reduce math anxiety and gives the students access to tutorials, algebra assignments, math videos, and a forum for discussing with the professor a variety of math topics.


S.O.S. MATHematics is a free resource for math review material from Algebra to Differential Equations! Get help to do your homework, refresh your memory, prepare for a test. Browse more than 2,500 Math pages filled with short and easy-to-understand explanations - from simplifying fractions to the cubic formula, from the quadratic equation to Fourier series, from the sine function to systems of differential equations - this is the one stop site for your math needs. You can also check out CyberExams to prepare for a test, or ask a question on the popular CyberBoard!


Is is late at night? Stuck on math homework due tomorrow? Big exam coming up? Perhaps Webmath can help! This site, part of the Discovery Education network, is composed of many math "fill-in-forms" into which you can type the math problem you're working on. Linked to these forms is a powerful set of math-solvers, that can instantly analyze your problem, and when possible, provide you with a step-by-step solution, instantly!


Purplemath offers help with algebra, including lessons that emphasize the practicalities rather than the technicalities, forums for asking for help from experts, reviews of other web sites, homework guidelines to tell students explicitly how to format their papers, and a study skills self-survey.

The Math Forum

This forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel University. It offers a browsable archive as well as links to tutors.


K–12 Reference

Education World's Research Center

The Toolbox Section contains all sorts of handy useful links to great resources, like online dictionaries, language translators, encyclopedias, maps, conversion engines, and more!

Fact Monster

Fact Monster is a reference site from Information Please that is ideal for kids ages 8-14 . It provides entertainment and educational resources, combining the contents of an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an atlas, and several almanacs loaded with statistics, facts, and historical records. A single search engine allows you to search all these sources at once.


Part of the StartSpot network, HomeworkSpot is a free homework information portal that features the very best K-12 homework-related sites together with engaging editorial in one high-utility, educational spot. With the help of students, parents and teachers, HomeworkSpot's team of educators, librarians and journalists has scoured the Web to bring you the best resources for English, math, science, history, art, music, technology, foreign language, college prep, health, life skills, extracurricular activities and much more.

World Almanac for Kids

Cool facts from the publishers of the World Almanac and Book of Facts for kids about animals, the environment, birthdays of famous people, inventions, countries of the world, population, U.S. Presidents, world religions, space, sports, the 50 U.S. states, and a timeline of U.S. history.

Ask Kids Schoolhouse

Ask Kids Schoolhouse is a portal that connects children and teens with educational resources such as an Environmental Encyclopedia, periodic table, math resources, and more.

International Children's Digital Library

Introduced in 2002 and funded by the National Science Foundation and others, this online colllection of children's books is meant to ensure that children will have access to books from their culture no matter where they go.


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