Every student has had to use an encyclopedia at some point in their life – after all, they have info on all kinds of topics, so no matter what you’re studying, you’re sure to find it in an encyclopedia. But the real question is: which encyclopedia is the best? If you’re like me, then you’re very familiar with Wikipedia (even if your teachers think it’s an unreliable source). But have you ever used Britannica? They’re both great for different reasons, and I’m about to tell you why.
Encyclopedia Britannica is great because it’s very reliable, so you can pretty much count on whatever it says to be correct. It’s perfect if you have to research a person, event, or other major topic. It also has some nifty features, like the “workspace.” Say you’re working on a report about Abraham Lincoln – well, if you find multiple articles from Britannica that you like, you can save them to your workspace and look at them whenever you want without having to search for them again. And from your workspace you can email and print the articles, too. A couple other helpful features are that they cite each article for you (look at the bottom of the page) and that if there’s a word in the article you don’t know, just double-click on it and the definition will pop up. Cool, huh?
Wikipedia’s strengths are a little bit different. It is not as reliable as other sources, mainly because anyone can edit an article. But even despite that downside, it’s still has one huge advantage: Wiki has articles on just about every topic known to man. If you search the name of your favorite song on Britannica, you’re probably not going to find anything. But if you search it on Wikipedia, you’ll probably find a whole page about it, or at least a couple pages about the album it came from. Another tip: even if your teachers won’t let you use Wiki, it is still a good jumping-off point for other sources. At the bottom of every page are links to other websites on the same topic, as well as books for further reading.
So, as you can see, both Britannica and Wikipedia have their pros and cons. But the great thing about that is that each has what the other does not – Britannica is very reliable, but Wikipedia has a larger database of info. So the next time you need an encyclopedia, make sure to try both!
Database and website review by Callan, teen blogger