I am writing a paper that is about another culture. I need to include references about the culture in my paper. Is an encyclopedia an acceptable source for general information about the culture (communication, nutrition, holidays, religion?)

  • 2
    Are you writing the paper for credit in a course? If so, then the person grading your paper would be the one to ask.
    – JRN
    Apr 16, 2020 at 3:30

1 Answer 1


Can I use an Encyclopedia as a reference in an essay?

Yes, but, it mightn't be the best source.

For instance, Britannica* has an entry on Coronavirus, as do many other encyclopedias. They probably aren't the most authoritative though. A better reference could be sought, e.g., the World Health Organization. The same is true for other topics, such as culture.

An encyclopedia may give you what you need, but other sources might be more authoritative/better.

* The first encyclopedia produced by a Google search.

  • 1
    As an addendum: if this encyclopedia's name is Wikipedia, the reader might have a bad impression.
    – user111388
    Apr 16, 2020 at 7:34
  • @user111388 Indeed: I was using encyclopedia in the traditional sense.
    – user2768
    Apr 16, 2020 at 7:49

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