Help Guides » Find Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Find Dictionaries & Encyclopedias


  • CUW has physical and electronic dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books.
  • Search for these books in Primo Search and subject specific databases.
  • Find subject-relevant options on the books tab of your subject guide or course/program guide
  • There are different ways to search entries in e-books (see below). 

Why Use Reference Books?

This short video covers the main reasons you should start your research with an encyclopedia or other reference book.

5 Reasons to use reference books (2 min)

Play Video

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries in Primo

Search Primo for encyclopedias & dictionaries.

  1. Combine topic keywords and the word dictionary or encyclopedia in CUW Library Search

    Primo search for biology dictionary with books selected2. In the search results, under Format, choose the best options and Apply filters.

Format filter with dictionaries and dictionary checked

There are 3 possible locations in the library: CUW Main stacks, CUW Reference, or Online

Book with location CUW Main Collection

Dictionary with location CUW Reference

Encyclopedia with location Online

Note: CUW Reference Books are for in-library use only. 

Using Electronic Reference Books

Online encyclopedias & dictionaries come in a few formats.

  • Some online encyclopedias & dictionaries will provide an alphabetical table of contents. Open the list and select an entry: Table of contents with show subsections link marked in red
  • Some reference books provide a search box to find topics. Search for keywords and choose the best entry from the results.

OR Click the date hyperlink to see a list of entries. 

Hyperlink that says January 1, 2008, Vol 7

Searching Databases with Encyclopedias

To find entries, use the same search technique as Primo:

Advanced Search for civil war in the first box and encyclopedia in the second box

Then, click on an entry title from the search results.

Again, it might be helpful to filter your source type to Reference books:

Source type filter with reference books checked