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Textbooks @ ISU

This guide shares information about course materials and textbooks to support your academic success at ISU

Expanding the definition of "textbooks"

  • Physical textbooks
    • This is likely what you traditionally think of when you imagine the term textbook – a physical book you buy, rent, or borrow for a class. You can put the physical textbook in your bag, carry it to class or the library, and read directly from it for assignments. 
  • eTextbooks
    • An ebook version is an alternative to a physical textbook – a lot of course material content is available online. eTextbooks are popular because you don't have to carry them around and can use features like search or find to quickly find information you need for assignments or studying. 
  • Course materials
    • This is the broadest term for any item used for a class. It refers to a physical book, supplies, or online content. 
  • Digital access codes
    • Access codes unlock access to online resources such as practice test questions, course assignments, and interactive study activities. You may find these codes referred to as digital access codes, textbook access codes, or student access kits. They all mean the same thing. Professors may ask students to obtain an access code if resources are required for the course. Often, the code is included when purchasing a new textbook, or the code and the textbook are bundled together. However, the access codes can only be used once, so if you purchased a used textbook or rented one, you will have to buy your access code separately. 
  • Lab manuals
    • For some courses, students will be expected to acquire lab manuals for their classes. This manual will be a critical component of their coursework, outlining their labs and including homework and other necessary course information. 
  • Supplies 
    • This is a general, catch-all term to refer to all course materials that are more specialized or unique. For example, some studio art courses will require students to purchase art supplies utilized in the course. Another example is a calculator needed for a math course. 

How do you know what course materials you need?

  • Before course registration: 
    • Information is available in CourseFinder to compare material costs for various courses/sections
  • After course registration: 
    • lists what materials are required vs. recommended for each course you are enrolled in 
    • To find your required textbooks in MyIllinoisState:

      • Go to and log in with your ULID and password.

      • Choose Academics.

      • Scroll down to Class Schedule and choose Textbooks and Materials just underneath it next to Related.

      • On Textbooks and Materials page, choose your semester at the top. You will then get a list called Your Class Materials.

  • Course Syllabi
    • The course syllabus (an academic document for each class that provides information about what is expected of students taking the course and is handed out at the beginning of the semester) will detail course requirements like textbooks.