Take advantage of the knowledge of the world with online dictionary and encyclopedia resources.
Using an Online Dictionary and Encyclopedia
Read the online counterparts of the biggest names in encyclopedias. The Encyclopedia Britannica presents the 1911 edition of the work, and Encarta offers articles on a host of subjects through an MSN portal. Of course, when you think of dictionaries, you think of Webster, and his legacy is represented online. Based on the 1913 unabridged edition, the site is slated to include 30 million entries when complete. There are dozens of other dictionary possibilities online, though. Perhaps the easiest to remember is Dictionary.com. Some dictionaries are affiliated with a larger reference service while others are independent efforts, and the OneLook Dictionary Search indexes 974 dictionaries for search results. Experiment a bit with the possibilities until you find a favorite.
Find Your Niche
The Internet thrives on providing niche publications, so you will find an online dictionary or encyclopedia for any need. Whether you're a medical student or a patient trying to make sense of a recent diagnosis, an online medical dictionary or encyclopedia can make your work easier. Science dictionaries are available to help you with physics and chemistry assignments. For a less technical topic, online dream dictionaries help you interpret the nighttime wanderings of your mind.
If you're studying a language, you'll want to check out the online foreign-language dictionary possibilities. Work on your Spanish or Latin homework more efficiently by quickly typing a word instead of flipping through page after page in a traditional dictionary. Online language dictionaries are also great for occasional use, such as when you come across an unfamiliar foreign word in a book.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Online dictionary and encyclopedia sources offer great convenience and quick access to the information you need. These references are at their finest when they go beyond the capabilities of print, such as when they allow users to take advantage of multimedia content. You can hear famous speeches, see scans of historical documents and view helpful diagrams and charts with just a few clicks.
Many free online encyclopedias stem from collaborative efforts such as Wikipedia or compilations of FAQs. Sometimes this leads to greater accuracy as experts weigh in on their specialties, but these sites are just as likely to be overtaken with propaganda, spam and incorrect information. The best Wikis have safeguards against their misuse, but you should still be careful when using such sites as an authoritative source, and double check you data as much as possible.