Our 5 Guidelines for Finding the Right Encyclopedia For You

Know how encyclopedias work so you’ll find what you need

Before you can do your best research, you should get to know more about what an encyclopedia is and how to navigate finding what you need to learn about. If you're new to uses this kind of resource, look for an easy to use app that will guide you through the process. Of course, if you're using an app, it will likely be organized with a search engine, which makes finding information much easier and more stream-lined. But you will need to get used to properly searching using keywords to find what you are looking for.

You should also find an app that will tell you more about what an encyclopedia is, such as how it differs from a dictionary, which provides only information about meaning as well as phonetic pronunciation and grammatical information such as the singular and plural forms. Then you can get more information about where the encyclopedia app you choose gets its information and what its references are.

Learn with confidence from trusted encyclopedia sources

The most important part of choosing a good encyclopedia is making sure you can trust the information that's in it. If you're not sure where to look for credible information, you should start with the app versions of more well-known and trusted encyclopedia sets like The Encyclopedia Britannica or Columbia. Or you could even try a trusted online source like Infoplease. 

It's a good idea to note where the encyclopedia sources its material and whether the topics are more collaboratively sourced like Wikipedia. Community edited encyclopedias aren't necessarily a bad source, in fact they can be much easier to read if you're just interested in learning about a topic for the sake of learning. But if you're using them for research, you should make sure to double check the cited resources before taking the information as fact.

Find different information with various encyclopedias

By definition, an encyclopedia is a book of information, and that information is typically arranged alphabetically like a dictionary. However, the information in an encyclopedia doesn't necessarily have to include every single subject. There are many different types of encyclopedias that are available for stand alone subjects, such as space or medieval art, and they are good to look into if you have a college research paper due and want to delve deeper on a certain topic.

There are also encyclopedias available in other languages or with language translation features, so if English is not your native language, you should find an encyclopedia that lets you toggle the language. Many of the general and most popular encyclopedias, such as Encyclopedia Britannica or Americana, have multiple language options so you can be sure that you understand the information you read.

Take encyclopedias on the go with online & app versions

If you're always on the go, you'll definitely want to skip the physical encyclopedia set for sale and opt for an encyclopedia app that's easy to access on your phone. It might also be best to find one with good offline options, especially if you take the underground metro often or tend to have spotty campus WiFi. 

Some encyclopedia apps that you buy online or subscribe to at a monthly fee allow you a free download of an encyclopedia entry as PDF file, so you can keep reading no matter where you are or what your signal strength is. This also makes it easier to save pages for access later, so you don't have to search again or have to remember what you were last reading.

Help your kids learn with encyclopedias made for them

Every kid should get familiar with encyclopedias, and apps make it even easier to find kid-friendly material that you can trust. You should keep in mind the age and reading level when looking for a encyclopedia app for children, since there are options available from preschool and kindergarten age all the way through elementary and middle school. You should also search for a kids encyclopedia that has plenty of pictures, especially if your little one is a more visual learner. 

You may also want to find an encyclopedia app with tons of different subjects that are simple to navigate between, so your child can start to learn how to do the research process on their own. This is great to learn if they're writing their first ever research report or doing a research project for school.

With these tips in mind, you have everything you need to pick the best encyclopedia app. Make sure to read our Best 10 Encyclopedia & Atlas Apps to get started. Happy researching!