Lasted edited by Andrew Munsey, updated on June 14, 2016 at 10:10 pm.
: For the Web-based free-content encyclopedia project over power and electronics, see PowerPedia.
An encyclopedia, encyclopaedia or (traditionally) encyclopædia, is a compendium that contains information on knowledge, sometiems a particular branch of knowledge. The encyclopedia as we recognize it today was developed from the dictionary in the 18th century. A dictionary primarily focuses on words and their definition, and typically provides limited information, analysis, or background for the word defined.
While it may offer a definition, it may leave the reader still lacking in understanding the meaning or significance of a term, and how the term relates to a broader field of knowledge. To address those needs, an encyclopedia treats each subject in more depth and conveys the most relevant accumulated knowledge on that subject or discipline, given the overall length of the particular work. An encyclopedia also often includes many maps and illustrations, as well as bibliography and statistics. Historically, both encyclopedias and dictionaries have been researched and written by well-educated, well-informed content experts.
Encyclopedias can be general, containing articles on topics in every field (the English-language Encyclopædia Britannica and German Brockhaus are well-known examples). General encyclopedias often contain guides on how to do a variety of things, as well as embedded dictionaries and gazetteers.
They can also specialize in a particular field (such as an encyclopedia of medicine, philosophy, or law). There are also encyclopedias that cover a wide variety of topics from a particular perspective (such as PowerPedia}. Works of encyclopedic scope aim to convey the important accumulated knowledge for their subject domain. Works vary in the breadth of material and the depth of discussion, depending on the target audience.
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Blom Phillip, Enlightening the World: Encyclopaedie, the Book that Changed the Course of History, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Collison, Robert, Encyclopaedias: Their History Throughout the Ages, 2nd ed. (New York, London: Hafner, 1966)
Darnton, Robert, The business of enlightenment : a publishing history of the Encyclopédie, 1775-1800 (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1979) ISBN 0-674-08785-2
Kafker, Frank A. (ed.), Notable encyclopedias of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: nine predecessors of the Encyclopédie (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1981) ISBN
Kafker, Frank A. (ed.), Notable encyclopedias of the late eighteenth century: eleven successors of the Encyclopédie (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1994) ISBN
Walsh, S. Padraig, Anglo-American general encyclopedias: a historical bibliography, 1703-1967 (New York: Bowker, 1968, 270 pp.) Includes a historical bibliography, arranged alphabetically, with brief notes on the history of many encyclopedias a chronology indexes by editor and publisher bibliography and 18 pages of notes from a 1965 American Library Association symposium on encyclopedias.
Yeo, Richard R., Encyclopaedic visions : scientific dictionaries and enlightenment culture (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-521-65191-3
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Encyclopedias online University of Wisconsin - Stout listing by category
CNET's encyclopedia meta-search (includes Wikipedia)
Diderot's article on the Encyclopedia from the original Encyclopédie.
Historical encyclopedias available online
Chambers' Cyclopaedia, 1728, with the 1753 supplement superbly digitized at the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center. Note the plates at the end of Supplement volume II.
Encyclopædia Americana, 1851,
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Britannica, 11th ed., 1911, at the LoveToKnow™ site.