Art + Design: Reference Works

This is by no means comprehensive, but we wanted to provide a space to highlight resources and materials that can inform a broad understanding of the field of art and social practice.

Why Reference Works?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Learning the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic

Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Search for Subject Encyclopedias (PSU Only)

Enter a topic below

Scholarly Subject Encyclopedias



Bibliographies point you to the key works on specific subjects. They are in the stacks by their call number. Anything without a call number is an electronic resource.

Online Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Selected Print Dictionaries and Encyclopedias