Nonfiction Book

Nonfiction books provide factual information and cover almost any topic.

Nonfiction books are often meant to be read cover to cover for enjoyment or to find information, although you may only need to use one portion for your research. While reference books and encyclopedias are also nonfiction, they are meant for the user to read specific sections as needed, and the information may not be as in-depth. 

When do I use a nonfiction book?

Use nonfiction books when you need the following:

    • to find lots of information on a topic
    • to find full coverage of a topic (instead of just something focused on one aspect of a topic)
    • to find historical information
    • to find summaries of research or evidence to support an argument

      Where do I find a nonfiction book?

      They can be found in print, online, or in a library database. Many are available at your local school or public library. Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves. Use an online catalog to find the call number. Most public and school libraries use the Dewey Decimal system to organize their books.  

      How is a nonfiction book organized?

      Nonfiction books have a title page, verso (back of the title page that has publication information), table of contents, chapters or headings that divide the book's content into sections (topics, time periods, etc.), notes, bibliography (sources the author used), and an index.

      How do I use a print nonfiction book?

      They typically have a table of contents near the front of the book. This can give you a good overview of how the book is arranged and what is covered. Think about what information you need. Typically the last several pages of a nonfiction book contain the index. This is an alphabetical listing of the topics in the books, and on what pages they can be found. If you need to find specific information in the book, use the index to locate the section or pages you need.

      How do I use an online nonfiction book (eBook)?

      Online nonfiction books may be exact replicas of the print book, while others are only published online. Online nonfiction books often have links in the table of contents or index that jump you to specific sections of the book. Usually, online nonfiction books may be searched to find specific information. To search, enter the keyword you are looking for into the search box at the top of the page. Then click on the page you are interested in reading. To find specific words on a page, use the find function. Use Control + F (or Command + F for Macs) to open a search box.  

      How do I use a database to find a nonfiction book (eBook)?

      Searching a database by keyword or subject will give you results from many source types -- magazines, journals, newspapers, eBooks, and more. Most databases' advanced search feature allows you to limit your search by the type of source you are looking for, including only articles that are full text (versus just a summary of the article).

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