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Reference Skills – What Makes a Referencing Skill Good?

Sep 6, 2022

Reference Skills 

Try answering the following questions. 

  1. What question can Elizabeth answer using a thesaurus? 
    1. What is the capital of Maldives? 
    2. What words means the same as funny? 
    3. What do bears do when they hibernate? 
    4. Does it ever snow in Africa? 
  1. Which part of the book gives the name of the book and the name of the publisher? 
    1. Index 
    2. Glossary 
    3. Title page 
    4. Table of contents 
  1. Ben’s family is driving to Mexico during winter holidays.  Where would he look to find out how long the drive will be? 
    1. Globe 
    2. Google maps 
    3. Encyclopedia 
    4. Geography book  
  1. John is reading a book about Tigers. Where should he look to find the definition of a word which he doesn’t know? 
    1. Title page 
    2. Table of contents 
    3. Index 
    4. Glossary 

Wow!!!  You have answered all correctly. 


What makes a good referencing skills? 

  • The basic principle of reference is to procure sufficient and accurate information on any topic for an assignment.  
  • Selecting the type of references should always be accurate, allowing the readers to trace the sources of information needed.  
  • The best way to make sure the reference accurate is to keep a record of all the sources that used specific areas when reading and researching for an assignment.  

How do you develop reference skills? 

  1. Choose the type of references for your topic or subject.  Note down the bibliographic details of your sources as your research can save you time and effort. 
  1. Then write your references manually. 
  1. Next, be consistent with your format. 
  1. Learn how to reference less conventional sources. 
  1. It’s a good idea to proof-read your reference list. 

Most popular and widely used types of reference books are as follows: 

  1. Encyclopedia  
  1. Atlas 
  1. Almanac 
  1. Dictionary 
  1. Thesaurus 
  1. Magazines and Newspapers 

Now let’s discuss each of reference types in detail: 

  1. Encyclopedia includes information on a wide range of topics or subjects arranged in alphabetical order by subject.  

It is a very useful resource of information and knowledge. 


Features of an Encyclopedia: 

  • Arranged in an alphabetical order by subject.  
  • On the back of each volume the letters illustrate the subject covered; for example, Volume I A-C covers all subjects, the first letters of the titles are between A and C.  
  • There are cross-references for certain subjects: e.g., ‘see also’ Vol IV.  
  • There is also a catalog at the end of the last volume to help the users. 
  1. Atlas: A bound collection of all types of maps of the world, a country, or a state. 
  • The maps in atlases show geographic features, the topography of an area’s landscape and political boundaries.  
  • They also show climatic, social, religious and economic statistics of an area. 
  1. World Almanac: A yearly calendar/listing that provides a wide variety of information on the time of certain events: 
  • Dates of holidays 
  • Rising and setting of the sun and the moon 
  • Range of important events 
  1. Dictionaries are among the most readily available, widely used, and cheapest learning resources. 
  • Gives guidance for the pronunciation, spelling and meanings and parts of speech. 
  • Phrasal verbs (e.g., get up), idioms (e.g., head over heels) and collocations (e.g., fill in a form). 
  • Provides examples of usage with illustration, difference in the British and American spelling, collocations, exceptions.  
  • It provides whole information are necessary to learn English. 
  1. The thesaurus is another useful manuscript for reference purposes.  

A thesaurus is a communication dictionary in which the ideas are being given; one can find the word or words and phrase or phrases by which the idea may be most appropriately expressed. 

This arrangement is according to the meanings of words which give all synonyms in terms of meaning categories. 

For example, in the section on an arrangement of ideas, we find all words  related to intellect, absence of intellect (mental-power), thought, idea, curiosity, incuriosity, attention, inattention, care, neglect, etc. Under intellect, we find all related words in a book of synonyms and antonyms. 

  1. Magazines and Newspapers 

Many cities in America publish daily newspapers (E.g.,The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times) and magazines (E.g., Reader’s Digest Newsweek) are available on almost any subject. 


Newspapers and magazines are referred to as periodicals because they are published on a regular basis. 

The following are some features that reference sources may have in common: 

  1. Title page 
  1. Table of contents 
  1. Glossary 
  1. Index 
  1. Bibliography 
  1. The Title page  

It mostly consists of the following: 

  • Title 
  • Author 
  • Publisher 
  • Place of publication 
  • Don’t forget the back of page 
  • Copyright date, publisher, city of publication, other information about the book 
  1. Table of Contents 

Table of contents include: 

It conveys to the reader what the book contains is broken down by 

  • Chapters 
  • Page numbers 
  • Includes where to find  
  • Glossary  
  • Index 
  1. Glossary  

Glossary is an important part and includes: 

  • Includes important words from the textbook along with their definitions 
  • Located at the back of the book, before the index 
  • It is in an alphabetical order 
  1. Index  

Index is another main component that includes: 

  • Includes information about everything in the book and the page(s) numbers to find the information in the book 
  • Located at the very back of the book 
  • Listed in an alphabetical order 
  1. Bibliography  

Bibliography includes the following: 

  • Reference page for list of other sources for a book/paper 
  • Alphabetical order by the author’s last name 
  • Also includes book title, where published, publisher, copyright date, page numbers (if cited) 


Now answer the following questions: 

  1. Which is the reference page or list of sources for a book? 
    1. Index 
    2. Glossary 
    3. Title page 
    4. Bibliography 
  1. Which source would be used to learn to pronounce a word? 
    1. Thesaurus 
    2. Dictionary 
    3. Almanac 
    4. Encyclopedia 
  1. Which of the following is an annual publication with a calendar? 
    1. Atlas 
    2. Almanac 
    3. Thesaurus 
    4. Dictionary 
  1. What piece of information would be found on a title page?  
    1. Author’s name 
    2. History of the publisher 
    3. Number of pages in the book 
    4. Number of other books by the author 



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