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[All Styles] What is the difference between a book and a reference book?

The distinction between a book and a reference book can be confusing. Some books that you might "reference" are still considered "books" for the purposes of citation.

Reference books are used to find factual information on a subject, and are not usually read all the way through or chapter by chapter. In a K-12 library, reference books are usually located in a special reference collection area, and cannot be checked out. Reference books include dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, almanacs, atlases, and directories.

This article last revised: 06/29/2012

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