Skip to main content

E-books and E-book Collections: Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

A guide to e-books in the library collection

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and other Reference Works


This is a selective list of major online reference works.  Use the library catalog Scholar OneSearch to find others. 

Unless otherwise noted, all are restricted to current NU students, faculty and staff.   From off campus, login with your myNEU username and password





Oxford English Dictionary -- Widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language, the OED provides a guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

Encyclopedia Britannica --Short and book-length overview articles in almost all disciplines. Also includes historical timelines, multimedia, selected magazine articles, notable quotations, and a dictionary and thesaurus.

Biography in Context -- Currently includes 600,000+ biographies covering more than 525,000 individuals, current and historical, drawn from a wide range of sources. 

Oxford Reference Online  -- Search or browse across a wide range of reference works in all disciplines.  Includes bilingual dictionaries, themed timelines, and quotations. 

Chicago Manual of Style  Provides information on manuscript preparation, punctuation, spelling, quotations, captions, tables, abbreviations, references, bibliographies, notes, and indexes, with sections on journals and electronic media.

Sage Knowledge (formerly Sage Reference Online)  ---This rich collection includes encyclopedias and handbooks for a wide variety of subject areas such as business, criminology, education, political science, psychology, sociology, and more, as well as research methodologies.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography -- The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography contains over 58,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles, and who died in or before 2008.  Authoritative in-depth articles include likenesses and detailed lists of additional sources.

American National Biography Online -- American National Biography Online includes biographies for more than 18,700 American men and women whose lives have shaped the nation.

Oxford Bibliographies -- Developed with scholars worldwide, Oxford Bibliographies offer authoritative research guides, featuring enyclopedic entries and annotated bibliographies on scholarship across a wide variety of subjects.



Arts and Humanities

Oxford Art Online --  Search across a range of art reference works including Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies.Includes many images.

Oxford Music Online  -- Search across multiple music reference resources, including Grove Music Online. The Oxford Companion to Music (revised 2011), which offers more than 8,000 articles on composers, performers, conductors, instruments and notation, forms and genres, and individual works; and The Oxford Dictionary of Music.

Encyclopaedia of Islam (Brill)  -- The online version includes all three editions of this important work.  The Encyclopaedia aims to be an accessible, reliable, and fully informed guide to all aspects of Islam and the Muslim world – religious and historical, but also cultural, social, political, and artistic.

Encyclopedia Judaica -- Provides an exhaustive overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to "Americana" and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures.

Concise Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy -- 2000+ entries comprise a complete introduction to world philosophy.

Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature  Covers the history of the literature in teh United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the major languages (Anglo Saxon,English, Scots, Welsh, Irish and Latin).


Biomedical and Health

Burger's Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery and Development -- Offers access to broad coverage of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Medline Plus Medical Dictionary -- Authoritative medical definitions.

Goodman and Gilman's the Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics -- An important pharmacy reference that reflects all critical new developments in drug action and drug-disease interaction.

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine  -- Standard textbook in internal medicine.

Mental Measurements Yearbook  -- Pprovides a comprehensive guide to over 2,000 contemporary testing instruments in psychology, education, business, and leadership. This online service covers from Volume 9 to the present.


Social Sciences

Political Reference Suite -- Congressional Quarterly's portal for research in US government, politics, history, public policy, and current affairs. Includes CQ's Politics in America, as well as other almanacs, data, and news publications.

International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences  (2nd ed.) --  Attempts to to describe the state of the art in all the fields encompassed within the social and behavioral sciences.  Includes 4,000 articles, commissioned by 52 Section Editors, 90,000 bibliographic references as well as comprehensive name and subject indexes.  

Europa World of Learning  The Europa World of Learning is a  directory of academic institutions worldwide.  Primarily arranged by country the directory includes colleges and universities, international organizations, regulatory and representative bodies, learned societies, research institutes, libraries and archives, museums and art galleries.


Science and Engineering

eLS: Citable Reviews in the Life Sciences (formerlyEncyclopedia of Life Sciences)  -- Spanning the entire spectrum of life sciences, the ELS features more than 4,400 specially commissioned and peer-reviewed articles.

ASTM Standards and Engineering Digital Library (SEDL)  --  Includes the full text of all current ASTM standards.

Encyclopedia of Earth  (Open Access)  -- All about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. Free searchable articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts. Written in non-technical language useful to students, educators, scholars, professionals, as well as to the general public.