Skip to Main Content

Evaluating Resources: Encyclopedias


There is a reason why pretty much every library has a set of encyclopedias. They truly contain a wealth of information. If you need background information on a topic, or need to find out who the major theorists are in a field, you can find that information in encyclopedias.

Note: While encyclopedias are reviewed and edited before being published, they are not peer reviewed and should rarely be cited in scholarly writing.

Identify encyclopedias

Since all of the encyclopedias in the Walden Library are digital, the entries may look slightly different than you're used to. Here is an example of what an encyclopedia entry may look like:

Social Change; Josiah McC. Heyman; In: Encyclopedia of Anthropology; Entry tab indicates encyclopedia entry


Reference citations for encyclopedia entries follow the same general format as book chapter reference citations. Some clues that you've found an encyclopedia entry include:

  • Two titles: You will see the title of the encyclopedia entry and the title of the encyclopedia. The entry title will generally be pretty short and concise. A majority of encyclopedia titles include the word encyclopedia.
  • In: The word in precedes the title of the encyclopedia.
  • Volume: A lot of encyclopedias have multiple volumes. Which volume the entry comes from will be included.
  • Page numbers: The page numbers for the entry will be included. Encyclopedia entries are generally fairly short.
  • Publisher: Who published the encyclopedia will also be included.


In APA 7th, an encyclopedia reference citation follows this general format:

Entry Author (if different than the editor of the encyclopedia). (Year). Entry title. In Editor(s) (Ed.), Encyclopedia title (Volume, page numbers). Publisher.


Here is an example:

Heyman, J. (2006). Social change. In H. J. Birx (Ed.), Encyclopedia of anthropology (Vol. 5, pp. 2095-2096). SAGE Publications. 


Note: Not all encyclopedia entry reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing an encyclopedia using APA style, please contact the Writing Center.