Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Types of Sources - What's the Difference

Learn quick and easy criteria for differentiating between common source types often used for projects and research at the university.

Types of Books

Non-fiction (or nonfiction) is information or events that are fact or real life experiences. Non-fiction covers a variety of topics and make up the majority of books at Milner Library. Most non-fiction books are secondary sources. The exception are biographies and memoirs. Need help searching for books? View our Help Videos.

Here are examples of non-fiction at Milner Library

Edited books are a compilation of essays or research by various authors. The role of an editor is to communicate with authors, compile the written works, and coordinate with the publishing company. Like single author non-fiction, these books are based on information or events that are fact or real life experiences. Edited non-fiction books are secondary sources. Need help searching for books? View our Help Videos.

Examples of Non-fiction Edited Works at Milner Library

Reference books give a broad overview and are a synthesis or compilation of theories, philosophies, or common knowledge for a specific discipline or culture. These books, very often peer-reviewed, are excellent sources for obtaining background information on a topic. Reference non-fiction books are tertiary sources. Need help searching for books? View our Help Videos.

Examples of Non-fiction Reference at Milner Library

Fiction is information, events, and characters that are imaginary; most often presented in the form of a story.
Fictional works are not used in a research project unless you are doing a critical analysis of the story, the body of work of the specific author, or the specific genre of writing.

Here are examples of fictional literature at Milner Library