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The information cycle

Next years: Reference books

The years that followed the event of the September 11 attacks, shorter and longer entries appeared in encyclopedias. These entries are the result of several years of cross-referencing information from several sources. So, if someone wants to find basic facts and some background information could start reading an encyclopedia entry.

Browse the gallery of encyclopedias published a few years after the September 11 attacks. Click the gallery images to view & read articles from general and specialized encyclopedias.

Information dissemination

The years that followed the event, the information continued flowing in shorter written forms which summarized the information which appeared earlier in news, magazines, journals and books. These shorter entries or essays do not include in depth analysis but are good in providing general knowledge about a topic like key persons, facts, dates, places, aspects and target different disciplines.

Encyclopedia attributes

Reading encyclopedic entries or essays online, can be trickier than when you are looking at a print version of a source. Computer screens impose us with the impression that all information sources are the same or that they offer the same kind of information.

Check the table with the encyclopedia entry attributes that will help you determine the type of source you are viewing.

 Attributes   Hints
Name of source

General encyclopedias names are usually broad and do not target a particular topic e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica. Specialized encyclopedias, usually target a particular topic e.g. Encyclopedia of Terrorism, or discipline e.g. Encyclopedia of Psychology.
Author of information

Encyclopedic articles may or may not list their authors. The writers can be scholars or specialists. When the name of the author is available it appears at the end of the entry.
Date of information

Encyclopedias are books, so like any other book the date of publication appears at the beginning of the book on a separate page which includes the copyright information. 
Length of information
The length of entries varies from a few lines to longer essays of a few pages. 
Language used

The language used in encyclopedia entries is formal and in specialized encyclopedias can be highly technical.

Subject focus
General encyclopedias cover several topics, while specialized encyclopedias may provide information on a particular subject or discipline.
Additional elements
Encyclopedias usually include a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents, indexes of subjects or names and bibliographies. They may also include photographs, tables, maps, graphs.  In electronic publishing, encyclopedias include multimedia and interactive elements.
Layout & arrangement
Encyclopedic entries are usually arranged alphabetically by headword. They may include an alphabetically arranged name index and keyword index or other indexes on each volume or the end of the set as a separate volume. 
Purpose & audience
The purpose of encyclopedia entries or essays is to provide factual details, usually as a quick overview which summarizes the event and outlines the key issues, may include general statistics, and may include a bibliography for further reading. Usually is intended for a general audience or for students that are new to a field of study, but may also be aimed at scholars.
Database Icons
Library databases often provide icons which indicate the type of source like