Types of Sources

So many choices! Use this guide to determine when to use a book, journal, video, encyclopedia or other sources.

About Books


Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize information on a topic.

Use a book:

  • to get background or overview on a topic
  • when looking for extensive or in-depth information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument
  • to find additional sources within the bibliography or footnotes

Characteristics of Books

Authors are:

scholars in the field, academics or researchers.

Sources are:

always cited with many references and/or footnotes.

Books are:

long and in-depth research

Books are:

sometimes edited, with multiple authors, look for university presses for scholarly books.

Find Books & eBooks

Hardcopy or physical books are located on shelves in the Library called "stacks". Books are then shelved according to their Library of Congress call numbers.

Electronic books (eBooks) are accessed through the Library's online catalog or through Summon. Just click on the "web link - Connect to e-Book" link within the eBook's library catalog record.

When searching for books using Summon, you can limit your search to  "book/eBook" using the boxes on the left side of the Summon screen under the heading "Content Type."

If you would like to search ONLY for hardcopy books and NOT e-Books, from the Library's main page, click on the Books and Media tab and enter your search terms. Then from within the library catalog, you can go to the "Filter Your Search" box on the right side of the screen and select "Books -  (NOT  Electronic Books)".

Examples of Books and eBooks

Hardcopy books are located in the Library's stacks. The books are then located by their Library of Congress call number. Electronic books (eBooks) are accessed by clicking on the "web link - Connect to e-Book" link within the eBook's library catalog record. 

How to Cite

Example hardcopy book reference citation in American Psychological Association (APA) style:

Tietenberg, T. (2007). Environmental economics and policy. Boston: Pearson/Addison Wesley.

Example electronic book reference citation in American Psychological Association (APA) style:

Nava Rodriguez, N. E. Advanced mechanics in robotic systems. Retrieved from