Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions for Oxford Reference. If you have any questions that are not in this list please contact us at oxfordreference@oup.com.

Content questions
Working with the content – printing, saving, downloading
Problems with the content – textual errors, display issues
Subscription questions
Developing Countries Initiative
Access questions for administrators
Access questions for users
Technical questions
MARC records


Content Questions


What content collections are available on Oxford Reference?

Oxford Reference is made up of two fully integrated and cross-searchable collections: Oxford Quick Reference and Oxford Reference Library. Visit the About page to find out more.

What characterizes/differentiates the two collections: Quick Reference and Reference Library?

Oxford Quick Reference is a foundational, core service--it provides hundreds of short-entry subject, language, and quotations Dictionaries. One of our "Concise Oxford Dictionaries" would, for example, appear in Quick Reference. Reference Library includes specialist scholarly reference works that go into more depth on a subject, like The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.

There isn't a hard and fast rule, but the Oxford Reference team does try to ensure that Quick Reference offers an overarching reference service while Reference Library titles can be selected based on the kinds of subjects/topics users are specifically interested in.

How can I see a full list of titles on Oxford Reference? And how can I find particular titles?

Visit the Title Lists page to download an Excel title list and to see a full list of titles in Oxford Reference, plus tips on how to find books on the site.

How often is the content within Oxford Reference updated?

Oxford Quick Reference: New titles and editions are added regularly throughout the year. In addition, the collection is reviewed monthly to ensure current and carefully vetted quick results you can trust.

Oxford Reference Library: New titles and editions are added throughout the year, providing authoritative scholarship on a range of subjects.

What is the difference between the publication dates listed in the book title and entry page index cards?

  • Print Publication Date: This is when the print edition was published
  • Published online: This is when the online edition was added to Oxford Reference
  • Current Online Version: This is when the title was last updated online

Why should I purchase the new edition of a Reference Library title if I have the previous one?

Each new edition has undergone significant revision of existing entries and, in most cases, an expansion of coverage. New editions are also published if the field has changed dramatically over the last decade, meaning we have returned to our landmark encyclopedia to bring it up to date to cover the emerging topics over the last decade.

You can find out about our latest updates from our News page.

There is an Oxford University Press book which I would like to see available in Oxford Reference

Please contact us with your suggestion. We will be uploading new titles to the site throughout the year. Please bear in mind that Oxford Reference only includes Reference titles, and not textbooks or academic monograph titles.

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Working with the content – printing, saving, downloading


Can I print entries from Oxford Reference?

Yes. To print any entries simply use the Printer icon in the toolbar at the top of the entry. A preview window will appear with the correctly formatted pages, minus the site navigation components. Please note that printing restrictions apply – see below for guidelines on legal printing and copyright.

Can I save entries from Oxford Reference?

Yes. To save an entry click on the Save icon option at the top of the entry page. Please note that Copyright restrictions apply – please see below for guidelines.

How much material can I legally print/save to PDF from Oxford Reference?

You are restricted by Copyright to the amount of information that you can print or download. It is very important that you read the Legal Notice, before printing or downloading anything from Oxford Reference.

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Problems with the content – textual errors, display issues


I've spotted an error in an entry

If you notice an error please contact us with the full details, including the URL.

One of the cross-reference links in an entry doesn't work

If a cross-reference link in an entry isn't working please contact us

Why are some images not included in Oxford Reference?

In cases where the image does not appear in the online edition of a book within Oxford Reference, this is typically because of copyright and permissions reasons.

Why is there sometimes conflicting information about the same topic in different titles?

The many books that comprise Oxford Reference are created by different editorial teams, which means that there may be occasional instances where research has supported different conclusions. If you have a comment to make about an inconsistency, please contact us, and we will, where appropriate, refer it to the relevant editorial team for further research.

I am having problems with searching

Try looking at our Help pages which gives you lots of information about searching as well as tips on how to avoid common problems. It might be that you need to use a different type of search, or perhaps alter your search term to either cast your net more widely if you have too few results, or narrow your search if you've got more results than you can deal with.

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Subscription Questions


How can I buy the collections within Oxford Reference?

Please visit the How to Subscribe page to find out more.

Is perpetual access available for any of the collections within Oxford Reference?

Oxford Reference Library – All titles are available for one-off purchase by institutions worldwide. Please visit the How to Subscribe page to find out more.

Oxford Quick Reference – this collection is only available for subscription, however please contact your sales representative to discuss flexible options.

Is it possible to have a free trial?

Free 30-day trials of Oxford Reference are available to libraries or institutions. If you are an individual wanting to try out Oxford Reference, why not find out if your library/organization already subscribes or would like a free trial?

Librarians can register for a free trial using our online form: within the Americas | outside of the Americas.

How do I subscribe to the Oxford Reference ‘Did you know?’ feed?

Simply go to the homepage of Oxford Reference and either sign up to receive daily email updates or click on the orange icon to subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Developing Countries Initiative - Oxford Reference


What is offered through this initiative?

Visit the Subscriber Services page to find out more.

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Access Questions for Administrators


I am unable to access Oxford Reference

First of all, please check that you have sent us your signed licence agreement, as we cannot give you access to Oxford Reference until we have received and checked this.

A. It is possible that some of your registration details are incorrect on our database?

If the IP address/es registered against your account, or the user name and password which your patrons use to access Oxford Reference are incorrect in our subscriber database, you will not be able to access the site. If you know your administrator user name and password, you can check your account details from the Subscriber Services page.

Once you have checked whether your IP address details are correct, please contact us, to say whether:

  • your IP address/es need to be corrected (if so, please supply the correct address/es)
  • your IP address/es are correct, but you still can't get access to Oxford Reference

B. Are you seeing any error messages when you try to log in to Oxford Reference?

Error messages appear in the log in box on the home page. These give some suggestions about why you may not be able to access the site. They may direct you to either your network administrator or to contact us.

C.  Could your account be on hold?
Occasionally an account is put on hold if we have not received your subscription payment, or if your subscription or free trial has expired. In both of these cases we would usually have been in touch with you about this. Do contact us for more information about this.

D. If your institution holds a concurrent user licence, it may be that your browser is not configured to accept cookies
Cookies are required by subscribers who have concurrent user licences of Oxford Reference in order to control concurrency-based access to the service. If you see a cookie related error message when you try to log in to the Oxford Reference site, then you need to enable cookies and try again:

To configure your browser to accept cookies:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: Select the 'Tools->Internet Options' menu item, and then open the 'Privacy' tab - you can then adjust the slider to allow cookies.
  • Firefox: Use the ‘Options' menu item, then choose the 'Privacy' tab. Choose the option to enable cookies.
  • Google Chrome: Choose 'Options' on the 'Customize and control' menu, then open the 'Under the Bonnet' tab. In the 'Privacy' section, click on the 'Content settings...' button and open the 'Cookies' tab. Select the option to enable cookies.
  • Apple Safari: Choose 'Preferences...' on the 'Settings' menu, then open the 'Security' tab. Select the option to enable cookies.

This problem may also occur if you are behind a firewall, in which case you should contact your technical department or Internet Service Provider.

After I enter my username/password, click on "log in", and then try to use the site, I'm often viewing pages or search results that I did in my earlier session

It is possible that you need to alter your cache settings:

  • In Internet Explorer: Select Tools: Internet Options on the menu bar, on the General tab select the Settings button and select "every visit to the page".
  • Firefox: Select Tools / Options / Advanced / Network and under Cache click on "Clear now".

Do you offer library card access to Oxford Reference?

Librarians or account administrators have the option to allow their users to access Oxford Reference using their library card. Please contact us if you would like to offer library card access to your users.

Users with off-site access to Oxford Reference

Users who access Oxford Reference from off site need to access the site with a form of remote access (such as Shibboleth or OpenAthens), even if the subscribing institution has IP access. Please contact us if you would like us to set up remote access for Oxford Reference off site.

What is your policy on cookies?

Cookies are required by subscribers who have concurrent user licences of Oxford Reference in order to control concurrency-based access to the service. The default policy will be to use cookies for authentication. However, subscribers who have unlimited access licences for Oxford Reference may choose to disable cookies and will still be able to use the service, but usage statistics related to user sessions will not be available.

Questions about proxy servers

A. Will our proxy server IP address(es) be enough to allow access to Oxford Reference?
Yes. However, if you are accessing Oxford Reference through a proxy server then you need to give us the IP address of the proxy server in order for you to access the Oxford Reference site.

B. I've registered my proxy server IP address(es), but I can't access Oxford Reference.

If you see the user name and password boxes when you access http://www.oxfordreference.com  then the IP address of your proxy server is not being recognised by the Oxford Reference site. If this is the case, please contact us, giving us details of the problem.

C. After previously successful IP-authenticated access via a proxy server, why am I now being requested to sign in with a user name and password?
If there is no obvious technical solution to the problem, please contact your Internet service provider (ISP) to check whether they have changed their configuration in a way that might hinder your IP-authenticated access to the Oxford Reference site.

D. I wish to enable off-campus access via a proxy server
Off-campus access is typically provided via a Remote Access Server (RAS). Ask your librarian or administrator whether there is a proxy server available for this purpose. If there is, enter its IP address into the Proxies section of your browser's preferences, generally located in the Proxy or Connection menu tabs. (In Internet Explorer, this is located in the Tools / Internet Options/ Connections Tab / LAN settings, the second section of which deals with proxies. In Firefox go to Tools / Options / Advance / Network / and click on "Settings" next to "Configure how Firefox connects to the Internet". In Netscape, it is located under Edit / Preferences / Advanced).

You will need a server at your end that is specific to one of the IP addresses you supplied to Oxford Reference. The degree to which the security of the server is configured is at the discretion of your institution - it just needs to be able to authenticate the end user for access to Oxford Reference.

E. We use EZ proxy for off-campus access to Oxford Reference, but users are being requested to sign in with a user name and password despite the fact that we can access other OUP online resources products via EZ proxy
Caching problems are the most likely cause of the sign in page being presented to remote users. Please ensure that users clear their browser cache before connecting to Oxford Reference. To do this:

  • In Internet Explorer: Go to Tools / Internet Options / General / and click "Delete cookies", and then "OK"; Go to Internet Options / General and click "Clear history", and then "OK".
  • In Firefox: Options / Options / Privacy / Clear your recent History / select a time range of ‘Everything’ and check the ‘Cookies’ and ‘Cache’ boxes

Please also ensure that users are connecting to Oxford Reference via the URL: http://www.oxfordreference.com

Questions relating to IP addresses

A. I've tried to set up IP-authenticated access to Oxford Reference without success.
If, for some reason, you are unable to access Oxford Reference by IP address authentication, referring URL access may be possible. Please contact us to enquire about further possibilities for your institution.

B. How do I register a large number of IP addresses?
Contact the office appropriate to your region with the list of IP addresses

Tip: remember to use the asterisk (*) wildcard character if you are registering an entire class of IP address, and condense IP ranges in the following way, e.g. nnn.nnn.1-30.*

C. How do I change my institution's IP addresses?
Contact the office appropriate to your region with the list of IP addresses

Questions relating to passwords

A. I've forgotten my site administrator password.
Visit the Subscriber Services page and follow the link below is appropriate to your region

Alternatively, please contact us and specify whether you would like to be reminded of your password, or whether you would like to change it (along with details of what you'd like to change it to) and we will send you the details as soon as possible.

B. Can I distribute my site administrator user name and password to allow access for my colleagues?
No, this is a restricted ID which should be kept in a safe place for use only by the librarian or site administrator. As access to Oxford Reference for institutions is IP authenticated, your colleagues will be able to access the service without a user name and password. If any of your colleagues require a user name and password for off-site access to Oxford Reference, please contact us.

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Access questions for users


I can't access all of the content in Oxford Reference

A. Are you a paying customer?
Oxford Reference features paid-for content, and most full content is only available to paying customers. To subscribe to the service, please visit our subscription pages for details of institutional and individual options.

B. It is possible that some of your registration details are incorrect on our database.
If the IP address/es for your institution or the username and password which you use to access Oxford Reference are incorrect in our subscriber database you will not be able to access the site.

  • Individual subscribers: visit the 'Forgotten your password?' page
  • Library/institutional users: check with your librarian or account administrator.

Once you have checked whether your subscription details are correct, please contact us.

C. Are you using your correct username and password?
If you receive an error message stating a mismatch between your username and password, you may have entered the wrong details. Please try again or contact us for help or to request that a password reminder be sent to you. Remember, only account administrators can reset passwords. If you are part of an institution or library, please see your librarian or administrator for help.

D. Could your account be on hold?
Occasionally an account is put on hold if we have not received your subscription payment, or if your subscription or free trial has expired. In both of these cases we would usually have been in touch with you about this. Do contact us for more information about this.

E. Is your browser configured to accept cookies?
The site uses session cookies to allow continued access during one session. If your browser is not configured to accept cookies, you will be bounced back to the username/password page.

To configure your browser to accept cookies:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: Select the 'Tools->Internet Options' menu item, and then open the 'Privacy' tab - you can then adjust the slider to allow cookies.
  • Firefox: Use the ‘Options' menu item, then choose the 'Privacy' tab. Choose the option to enable cookies.
  • Google Chrome: Choose 'Options' on the 'Customize and control' menu, then open the 'Under the Bonnet' tab. In the 'Privacy' section, click on the 'Content settings...' button and open the 'Cookies' tab. Select the option to enable cookies.
  • Apple Safari: Choose 'Preferences...' on the 'Settings' menu, then open the 'Security' tab. Select the option to enable cookies.

This problem may also occur if you are behind a firewall, in which case you should contact your technical department or Internet Service Provider.

I have forgotten my user name and password to access Oxford Reference

Only account administrators can reset passwords. Please see your librarian or administrator for help.
Individual subscribers: click this link.

Can I access Oxford Reference away from my library/institution?

It is possible to have remote access to an institution's subscription, through either a referrer page on the institution's site, or username/password access with user verification. We suggest that you contact the head of reference at your library for more details.

Do you offer library card access?

Librarians or account administrators have the option to allow their users to access Oxford Reference using their library card. Please ask your librarian or administrator to contact us about setting up library card access.

Is Oxford Reference accessible through OpenAthens?

Yes, it is available through OpenAthens to institutions outside of North and South America. Please ask your librarian or administrator for details.

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Technical Questions


Is Oxford Reference accessible to visually impaired users?

Oxford Reference has WCAG, AA compliance and works with most popular screen-reading software. We have worked hard to ensure that all users have an equal level of access to the scholarly content in Oxford Reference. If you have any questions on this subject, or comments on areas that could be improved, please contact us.

Which browsers will Oxford Reference run on?

Oxford Reference is designed to display and function correctly on the latest versions of the following browsers:

  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Google Chrome
  • Internet Explorer

We recommend that you set your screen resolution to 1024 x 768 pixels for the optimum display and use of Oxford Reference.

Can Oxford Reference incorporate library holdings information and provide seamless linking to and from online catalogues?

Oxford Reference is OpenURL compliant, and static URLs at subject, book, and entry level offer a wide variety of linking options from library catalogues. In addition, MARC21 records are also available free of charge. 

Is Oxford Reference OpenURL compliant?

Yes, Oxford Reference is compliant with version 0.1 of the OpenURL specification. To enable this feature in your institution, please access your account information in Subscriber Services. Please note that in order to do this, your institution will need to have an OpenURL resolver.

What is the service identifier (sid) for OpenURL from Oxford Reference?

The service identifier (sid) is OUP:ORO.

What information should I register for OpenURL?

You should register the following information for OpenURL in Subscriber Services:

1. the resolver address (e.g. http://resolver.library.edu);
2. the version of the OpenURL standard your resolver requests; this will be one of:

  • 0.1
  • 1.0

Supports only version 0.1 of the standard; 1.0 should not be selected;

3. the format in which OpenURL query parameters should be sent to the resolver: this will be one of:

  • key-value pairs (KEV)
  • XML

Note that Oxford Reference currently provides OpenURL query parameters in KEV format: XML should not be selected.

Can I add my library's OpenURL resolver logo to Oxford Reference?

You can add your library's OpenURL resolver logo via your account administration area in Subscriber Services.

Please note that your OpenURL resolver logo should be a maximum size of 19 pixels high x 55 pixels wide.

Does Oxford Reference support meta-search?

Yes; the site can currently be accessed by meta search software via HTTP request and supports the method='get' using a base URL of:

www.oxfordreference.com/ search?q=[search term]

Separate search terms should be separated with the + sign.

For example, searching for collisions and culture would be added to the base URL as: =collisions+culture

What is your policy on third party data mining?

Oxford University Press recognizes the research benefit of Text and Data Mining (TDM) across a variety of research fields. As such, we are happy to accommodate TDM for non-commercial use.

Although researchers are not required to request permission for non-commercial text-mining, OUP is happy to offer consultation with a technical project manager to assist in planning your project, including avoidance of any technical safeguards triggers OUP has in place to protect the stability and security of our websites. To request a consultant for your TDM project, please e-mail Data.Mining@oup.com

OUP is also happy to consider any Commercial TDM requests. To request approval for TDM for commercial use, please email Data.Mining@oup.com

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MARC records


Are there MARC Records available?

MARC 21 records can be downloaded here by library professionals free of charge.

How can I view or edit the MARC Records I downloaded from Oxford Reference?

To view or edit our MARC records you will need software which supports MARC21 format, such as MarcEdit, which is free to download on the open web.

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