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Getting Started

Three Things to Know About Oxford Reference

1. The Oxford Reference site is comprised of two main content types: Oxford Quick Reference and Oxford Reference Library.

2.  As a site user, you will come across entries and titles that are categorized into these two collections. In general, Quick Reference titles include core Oxford subject and language dictionaries that offer concise, short-entry content. Reference Library titles include Encyclopedias and Companions that may be more in-depth and specialized for more focused research.

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3. To support global research and discoverability, Oxford Reference features lots of  content that is accessible to users worldwide. This content includes:

  • Overview Pages - These "at a glance" pages on specific subjects offer a great starting place for research, by linking you to relevant content across Oxford Reference
  • Historic Timelines - Track the most important historical happenings and events with hundreds of timelines, arranged by themes or time periods.
  • Quotations - The full Oxford Essential Quotations title is available to explore--search for quotations by notable figures or by topic
  • Unlocked Entries - From time to time, certain entries may be unlocked in response to current events or anniversaries. Follow OUPAcademic on our social media channels to receive alerts.



Searching with OR

To look up a term:

1. Type or paste the term you want to find in the main Search box at the top right of each page.

search panel

2. Click search button or press Enter.

3. The results of your search are displayed.

4. Click on any of the items in the list to view it.

The full content of padlocked books or entries padlock are unavailable under your subscription.


Viewing Results

The matching entries are listed on the results page(s). The number of results appears at the top of the list.

The first result you may see is an Overview page - a culmination of links and information focused on a single topic. These pages offer a great starting place for your research by directing you to relevant entries and titles across the Oxford Reference collections.

Milton overview

Other entries in your result may include specific details about the book in which it appears, as well as other information about its subject, online publication date, etc.).

Milton results



You can browse entries by subject or by reference type:


1. Make sure the subject button button or reference button button is selected.

2. Click on the subject of your choice (e.g. History) in the Browse panel, or, if you're looking for a specific type of entry (e.g. Subject Entry), select that.

3. An alphabetical list of matching entries is displayed.

4. Browse the list using the cursor or by selecting a page number. To move directly to titles beginning with a particular letter, type it into the Starting with: box and click go button.

Starting with box


Note That:

  • There are a number of different ways to view and sort results. You can confine them to a particular reference type (Timelines), subject (Music), or content set (Quick reference).
  • If a book is padlocked padlock, your subscription does not cover its full content, and only its title and/or a snippet of text are available for viewing. Use the filter (situated to the left of the ‘You are looking at…’ box ) to "Show Full Text Results Only", which your subscription gives you full access to:
  • Results are automatically defaulted to show entries. To view  results as a list of matching books, click on the gray Books tab..

results entries