Essential References

Acronyms Almanacs and Factbooks Biographies
Dictionaries and Thesauri Directories Encyclopedias
Government Documents Other Reference Sites Style Manuals

(See the Electronic Databases by Subject page for specific subjects.)

Our Essential References page contains links to web based reference tools such as almanacs, biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, and style manuals. Also on this page are links to our information pages on (LINK) researching your topic, (LINK) determining if it is a scholarly journal, and tips on evaluating and citing resources on the Web. Please contact our reference desk at (256) 782-8034 or Ask a Librarian if you have additional questions.

Back to Table of Contents
  • Acronym Finder
    • "A searchable database containing common acronyms and abbreviations about all subjects, with a focus on computers, technology, telecommunications, and the military."
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations
    • "To look up the meaning of an acronym or abbreviation just type it in the panel and press Enter or Return: case is not important. Do not type any punctuation, just the letters."

Back to Table of Contents
  • Guinness World Records
    • "Need to know the size of the biggest disco ball? The most chiles eaten within three minutes? The world's wettest place? Look no further than the Guinness World Records site, produced by the longtime chronicler of all that is remarkable and strange. Visitors can browse world records by category via a pull-down menu or search by keyword. The homepage also features top stories (selected records with additional background information) and the Daily WOW, a Flash animated story about a particular world record. Please note that the pages are a little slow, even with a fast connection, and that we had to refresh some pages multiple times to get them to display due to a busy server." NOTE: Uses Flash, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player.
  • InfoPlease
    • "This site integrates the various Information Please? Almanacs on sports, entertainment and general knowledge with the Random House Webster's College Dictionary and The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, into a single reference source that puts a wealth of facts."
  • Old Farmer's Almanac
    • "Since 1792, The Old Farmer's Almanac has published useful information for people in all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise tables and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and weather predictions for those who don't like the question of weather left up in the air."
  • World Factbook
    • The World Factbook "provides all kinds of social, economical, political, and other facts for 266 nations, dependent areas, and other entities."

Back to Table of Contents
  • Biography In Context
    • "Virtually every course of study - from history to science to literature - is ultimately tied to the study of people. Their challenges, motivations, successes and failures can educate and inspire learners of all descriptions. Now you can offer users the best source of content. Biography in Context, a next-generation online portal, is built on a foundation of more than 600,000 biographies on more than 500,000 people gathered from more than 170 award-winning Gale reference sources. Biography in Context (based on the acclaimed Biography Resource Center) delivers Gale's authoritative reference content integrated with the most in-demand resources - video, audio, podcasts, interactives and more - through a Web-like experience that meets the needs of today's Internet-savvy users. ." This index is restricted to JSU students, faculty, and staff.

Back to Table of Contents
  • The American Heritage? Dictionary of the English Language
    • "Over 90,000 entries feature 10,000 new words and senses, 70,000 audio word pronunciations, 900 full-page color illustrations, language notes and word-root appendixes."
  • Merriam-Webster Online
    • "Merriam-Webster OnLine provides a free, searchable on-line dictionary and thesaurus, word games, a word of the day, and many other English language and vocabulary reference tools and resources." Merriam-Webster Online has added a new audio feature to its online version of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. A red audio icon next to an entry word provides visitors with the word pronounced by real voices. Multiple icons will be displayed when variant pronunciations are available.
  • OneLook Dictionaries
    • "There are a number of good dictionaries on the Internet. However, a person sometimes needs to look at several before finding the word they seek and the definitions in that dictionary may not give them quite what they need so they go on to look for the word in other dictionaries as well. This page is intended to make the above process quick and painless. The purpose is to encourage people to use Internet glossaries and dictionaries. The OneLook Dictionaries page provides two approaches to finding definitions for a word.
      1. Search the OneLook Dictionary indexes for the word you seek. You may search all or a few of the dictionaries and then quickly retrieve the definitions found. An asterisk character in a search string is a wildcard that matches any number (including zero) of any characters. If an exact match is not found, then a partial match may be found (the presence of an asterisk blocks this feature). If no match is found in the dictionaries selected, then the other dictionaries are searched.
      2. Link directly to a dictionary page. The "Browse Dictionaries" list includes dictionaries that are indexed by OneLook Dictionaries. It is always possible, that the dictionary page will include words that are not yet included in the OneLook Dictionaries search database. The "More Dictionaries" list contains dictionary links that for technical reasons are not indexed or the author has not given permission."
  • Roget's Internet Thesaurus
    • Roget's Internet Thesaurus is a searchable online thesaurus of English words and phrases.

Back to Table of Contents
Email Directories
Back to Top of Section
  • Contact Information - People Finder
    • This is part of the JSU site. You can search for JSU's student, faculty, and staff email addresses at this page.
  • Email Addresses on the Net
    • The following sites are a compilation of search tools found on the Internet. These directories can retrieve the email addresses of people and businesses. A few of these email directories are:

Telephone Directories
Back to Top of Section
  • Contact Information - People Finder
    • This is part of the JSU site. You can search for JSU's University, faculty, and staff telephone numbers at this page.
  • Telephone Directories on the Web
    • The following sites are a compilation of search tools found on the Internet. These directories can retrieve the telephone numbers of people and businesses. A few of these telephone directories are:

Zip Code Directories
Back to Top of Section
  • United States Postal Service
    • "We are the United States Postal Service. Our goal is to evolve into a premier provider of 21st-century postal communications by providing postal products and services of such quality that they will be recognized as the best value in America." This site also provides a Look Up a Zip Code search feature.

Back to Table of Contents
    • "Welcome to - the Internet's premiere free encyclopedia! This site conveniently places an extraordinary amount of information at your fingertips."
  • Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
    • The Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia "provides over 25,000 encyclopedic entries. Searchable by subject or keywords within the entry." This database is accessed through EBSCOhost. Access is provided by the AVL (Alabama Virtual Library). This index is restricted to JSU students, faculty, and staff.

Government Documents
Back to Table of Contents

Other Reference Sites
Back to Table of Contents

  • Ready Reference Megasites
    • The following sites have links to an extensive collection of reference tools. These sites have various forms-based search tools. They also provide consistent interfaces and convenient search points. A few of the ready reference megasites are:

Style Manuals
Back to Table of Contents
  • MLA Style
    • Shows the MLA style of "documenting sources from the World Wide Web. These guidelines on MLA documentation style are the only ones available on the Internet that are authorized by the Modern Language Association of America. The MLA guidelines on documenting online sources are explained in detail in the fifth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (1999) and in the second edition of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (1998). These guidelines replace the information in the fourth edition of the MLA Handbook on documenting online databases (sec. 4.9). What follows here is a summary of the guidelines that cover the World Wide Web. For the complete MLA recommendations on Web sources, please see one of the books mentioned above." We currently have these books in our collection. Search our catalog to obtain our call number information for these books.

Helpful Links:

Copyright Information
Finding Articles
Is It Scholarly?
Plagiarism Information