Navbar The best choices online reviewed

Online Encyclopedias

The online encyclopedias choice review looks at the leading online encyclopedias and reviews the best choices available.

Encyclopedias are one of the largest print undertakings in the book world, usually running to a large number of volumes. For this reason they can be quite costly and take up a fair amount of shelf space. But now the Web changes that for many users.

The Web is an ideal medium for searching large amounts of information and returning only what is relevant, so it follows that it will be very convenient for most users to search an encyclopedia online. 

because of the Web the encyclopedia industry is changing...

Now that some of the major encyclopedias have established their presence online the free online encyclopedia is more than just a reality, it has become mainstream.

And as more information is being re-written for the Web with hypertext links it is becoming a very convenient way to research a subject because the links can take you deeper into what you are interested in with just a click of the mouse. The same task could have been quite a chore cross-referencing books.

Because of the Web the encyclopedia industry is changing in many ways. The Web will probably never replace the paper encyclopedia, but we are starting to see some new approaches and some new business models in the industry.

The first of course is the availability of free encyclopedias online. That will benefit so many, especially casual users who don't necessarily have a substantial ongoing need, perhaps just researching something every now and then. As a general rule the free encyclopedias are not the most comprehensive available, but suitable for most people's purposes.

The new model which is becoming popular online suits people who have a need for more detailed, or more comprehensive information, and that is the premium subscriber model which is available at a premium. 

Sites which provide both free and premium subscriber information are now becoming possibly the most popular Web model, because everyone wins, which is good for the industry because there will still be funds to maintain and develop their products for the future.

In this choice review we look at what is now available in online encyclopedias, and the features they offer.

Each one of these sites has a different approach to online encyclopedias and these features are the focus of this review.

We have taken the top online encyclopedia sites and rated them from a users perspective, looking at both free and subscription based sites. In particular we have looked at the sites that have become the most popular through providing the features people want most, and those which provide the best user reference and features for an online encyclopedia.



Choice Review Recommends

1ST CHOICE is part of eLibrary, which is a large, comprehensive digital archive of information. The encyclopedia provides users with more than 57,000 up to date references from the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, and it is available as a free service.

The encyclopedia can either be browsed or searched. Search results are fast and accurate and texts feature links to relevant additional content within the encyclopedia.

They also offer an optional paying extra to the free service for serious researchers where each reference also offers links to newspaper and magazine articles for subscribers.

Whether used as a free online encyclopedia returning full-text reference for all users, or a full-strength research tool, eLibrary's encyclopedia is a very worthwhile tool.

Information Please
Information Please

The Information Please encyclopedia is part of Family Education Network, and provides free online access to the Columbia Encyclopedia.

They provide a searchable environment, making access easy and intuitive. The initial search will typically return a number of links relating to what was searched, and the final results you want can be chosen from there.

These results are usually provided fairly quickly, often with a number of other useful aspects to the information, like historical or other applicable perspectives, and a bibliography for further reference. Links are provided within the texts too, if other content within the encyclopedia is relevant.

Information Please also offers an online dictionary and a host of other information-related resources.

Encyclopedia Brittanica
Encyclopaedia Britannica

One of the outstanding print publications of all time, Encyclopedia Britannica, also offers an online searchable encyclopedia.

There are 3 major versions of the encyclopedia, the full 32 volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Student Version, and the Concise Version.

Their Web site offers free search of the concise version.

Searches of the Student and full Encyclopedia Britannica versions return short results with the full results requiring premium service subscriptions.


Top 10


This browsable or searchable free encyclopedia from eLibrary offers more than 57,000 up to date references from the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Information Please
Popular online encyclopedia from Family Education Network, referencing results from the Columbia Encyclopedia, with useful cross references.

Encyclopaedia Britannica
The complete (multimedia enhanced) text of the 32 volume  Encyclopaedia Britannica, along with the student and concise versions in a searchable environment.
Concise version searches are free and full version access is available with subscription.

How Stuff Works
 HowStuffWorks is the leading provider of information on how things work. Although not a full encyclopedia, this award-winning site is the most popular encyclopedic reference online.

Bartleby provides a free online version of the Columbia Encyclopedia with hypertext cross-references.

Yahoo! Reference
Quick encyclopedia search using results from the Britannica Concise encyclopedia.

The Probert Encyclopaedia
British encyclopedia of close to 100,000 searchable entries with links and illustrations.


World Book Encyclopedia
Online subscription-based encyclopedia from World Book with a free trial period. Content from their 22 volume print version is available online with multimedia enhancements and links to Web sites where available.

Free search of a number of publications including the Macmillan Encyclopedia

Free online encyclopedia with a slightly different approach.

Recommended Open Directory links for more online encyclopedias:


Subject Encyclopedias




Other Choice Reviews



Music Charts


Movie Portals
Movie Review Sites

TV Guides online
Satellite TV Providers



Search Engines
Webmaster Resources
Personal Firewalls Review



Discount Inkjet Cartridge Retailers

Tech News Sites


Financial News


Online Reading
Online Dictionaries

Online Encyclopedias

  Discount Magazine Subscriptions
  Mortgage Quotes Online













2002-2009 All rights reserved.