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  • Types of Encyclopaedia



  • The word 'encyclopaedia' comes from the Greek word 'enkyklios paideia, 'which translates to 'universal knowledge' and was regarded in ancient Greece as a valuable talent.
  • A systematic collection of knowledge or information on numerous topics is an encyclopaedia.
  • Encyclopaedias organise their knowledge or information in a certain way.
  • The primary goal of encyclopaedias is to organise and make accessible the knowledge that is already available.

    Specimen of Encyclopaedia  

Types of Encyclopaedias:

Encyclopaedias can be approximately divided into four types.  

1. Dictionaries: 

  • The sequence of the words in dictionaries varies from language to language (alphabetical order is more common).
  • It provides word definitions, synonyms, and etymology. 
  • There are many different kinds of dictionaries
    (i) Comprehensive dictionaries,  
    (ii) Dictionaries that only contain a certain kind of word,  
    (iii) Terminology dictionaries (which deal with terms specific to a field of expertise), 
    (iv) Etymological dictionaries 
    (v) Thesaurus
    (vi) Idiom and proverb dictionaries, etc. 


2. Comprehensive Encyclopaedia (Vishwakosh):

  • The Vishwakosh comes in two varieties.  
  1. It covers any topic imaginable (such as ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica,’ ‘Maharashtriya Dnyankosh,’ ‘Marathi Vishvakosh,’ etc.). 
  2. It provides in-depth details on the selected subject. Bharatiya Samkruti Kosh, Vyayam Dnyankosh, etc. are a few examples.

3. Encyclopaedic (Koshsadrush) Literature: 

  • It is comparable to an encyclopaedia, which has scholarly articles that cover every element of one or more predetermined subjects.
  • For instance, the volumes of ‘Maharashtra Jeevan,’ ‘Shahar Pune,’ ‘Yearbook’ (Manorama, Times of India), etc. 

4. Indexes:  

  • An index is typically found at the bottom of a book.
  • The alphabetical listings of individuals, subjects, locations, key phrases, reference books, etc. are called indexes.
  • For example, the Marathi periodicals index created by S.G. Date. Indexes aid in the discovery of needed information and make the content of a book more accessible.
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Related QuestionsVIEW ALL [6]

Read the following extract and answer the questions.

Encyclopaedias make vast volumes of knowledge accessible to readers. It can help in satisfying their curiosity. Encyclopaedias provide fundamental information on any topic, in order to understand it properly. Thus, the reader gets motivated to read extensively. Encyclopaedias make the existing knowledge easily accessible to scholars and researchers and also highlight the research areas, which have not yet received enough attention. Encyclopaedias are indicators of the state of cultural ripeness of a society. The intellectual and cultural needs of a society determine what kind of encyclopaedic literature would be created. Accuracy, meticulousness, objectivity, standardised format of presentation and updated information are the criteria for designing a structure of an encyclopaedia. In order to incorporate the latest available information revised editions of encyclopaedias or supplements to original editions need to be published. Encyclopaedias are arranged either in alphabetical order or according to the order of topics. The type of order is decided by keeping the convenience of readers in mind and the ease of accessibility to the information. An index at the end of the encyclopaedia is very convenient in this regard.
  1. Which one of the following is a benefit of an encyclopaedia?
    (i) Knowledge
    (ii) Information
    (iii) Caters to researchers
    (iv) All of these
  2. What do encyclopaedias indicate?
    (i) Cultural ripeness
    (ii) Literacy rate
    (iii) Traditional values
    (iv) Economic growth
  3. Do you think encyclopaedias are useful to students of history?

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