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Types of Sources: Books and eBooks

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

Use WPI Library Search to find books at WPI. When searching for books using WPI Library Search, enter your keywords. On the search results page, go to the "Resource Type" filter on the left and select "Books." 

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. You can find the call number for a book in WPI Library Search. 

Electronic books (eBooks) are accessed through links in WPI Library Search.

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:

Lyons, K. L. (2015). A roadmap to green supply chains: Using supply chain archaeology and big data analytics. Industrial Press.

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

Atkinson, H. (2015). The challenge of sustainability: Linking politics, education and learning. 

For information on additional citation styles, please see the Citing Sources guide.