Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Reference

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic. This year, my second year with A to Z, I’ll cover writing genres.

Today’s genre:



Reference: a book intended to be consulted for information on specific matters rather than read from beginning to end.

Tipsa to z

  1. May be a single volume or multiple–whatever is required for the topic.
  2. Establish your credentials for being the go-to person on this topic.
  3. Include an easy way to find information in your reference book–keywords, tags, comprehensive index, etc.
  4. If your reference book is time sensitive (i.e., Most Influential People in the World), update often.
  5. Include guidewords on the upper corner of the page, to orient readers.
  6. Make it easy for readers to find what they’re looking for.
  7. Build on the ideas of other smart people but provide citations to the level expected by the person you’re quoting. Some want linkbacks; others want money.
  8. Reference figures and images carefully and systematically.
  9. Ask your publisher for their preferred approach to references.  That may be the APA style approach or the IEEE approach — or another.
  10. Have a consistent approach to the use of boxes for Top Ten lists, Suggested Reading, and other.

Popular Books

  1. A dictionary
  2. An encyclopedia
  3. A thesaurus
  4. An atlas
  5. An almanac
  6. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett
  7. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
  8. Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray
  9. The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer
  10. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Click for complete list of  2018 A to Z genres

More R Genres:

If you’d like to help with my book launch in June, please sign up at this link.


If you’d like to subscribe to my Writing Tips, Book Reviews, and More newsletter, sign up here.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

59 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Reference

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Regionalism | WordDreams...

  2. I own and use nearly all of these. Sadly, someone else in the family claimed my father’s Gray’s Anatomy. But I took it from his house (30 years ago) and raced to the hospital where he’d been misdiagnosed, (“No, it’s not a heart attack and we don’t know what it is, go home.”) and together we figured out what he’d suffered: A descending aortic aneurysm. He would likely have died had I not gotten the book to him and helped him find the correct entry. Physician, heal thyself – and so he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes! That’s quite a story. My daughter became addicted to Gray’s Anatomy also in the hospital, with one of the dealy orphan diseases. She was only 5. Once she recovered, she lots interest!


  3. I hated dictionary as a child for its scary size and thickness. But as an adult it is a holy book to me. Sometimes I love flipping through its pages. As a child I loved encyclopedias and kept checking atlas for fun.
    Jacqui your post reminded me of those past days.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a student reference books were core to my studies and I loved the old-looking tomes in the library, coming back with battered looking reference books. Then there were the occasional ones bought to own which felt a huge privilege! I wonder how many are consulted these days in comparison … I myself use the internet widely. Interesting R genre, Jacqui. Happy Weekend! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We were talking about reference books at work recently. I have a shelf full of writing related books, but only a handful on interpreting. When it comes to professional development, finding strong (current) resources can be hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to do that, too. In fact, I blogged about that very point (here’s the link– but I think they’ve gone a long way to correcting their problems and traditional sources have lost some of their fact-checking edge. Now, I’m not sure…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jacqui.

    I wouldn’t be a good author for this genre but I sure do appreciate that there are folks who like to pull resources together to publish some excellent reference books like how-to books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. This is a very useful category. These days I usually consult Google or Wikipedia to reference many subjects. Thanks for visiting today. I hope you have a restful weekend!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    A2Z iPad Art Sketch ‘R’ for Rocks

    Liked by 1 person

    • One reason for their demise is what you just said–You can’t check them out. That means they aren’t mobile. And only one person at a time can use them. the Internet solved both of those but created its own problems!


  7. Hi Jacqui – love reference books and have loads – they were the books that I kept for my return, along with some others. Re the older books – I much prefer them … as there is more background information, which often is very relevant – otherwise that understanding of the history is not taken on board when learning about something. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting choice for R, reference books and not romance. Good choice, and it keeps it interesting. Sadly again I must confess that reference isn’t a category I thought of either, but it needs to be written doesn’t it? It holds lots of important information… I seem to be learning a lot while following you in this A to Z challenge, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love reference books, and have a whole shelf of them in my office. Mostly to do with writing research (but any excuse right?). I remember my first reference books were the Childcraft Encyclopedias my parents bought when I was very young. I read my way right through them and kept them for decades to pass to my kids. Sadly I couldn’t have envisaged Google which the kids turn to for research rather than a book =(

    Liked by 1 person

    • The content of encyclopedias changes too. What we used to consider important (or not) changes. Those old Childcraft’s provide a view on what society thought should be known about the world.


  10. Now this is a genre that is near and dear. I love reference books and was a bit chagrined when Bryson published his Short History of Nearly Everything. I wanted to do that! Not that it would have gone well. My first real effort as a writer was when, at age ten, I decided to write an encyclopedia of animals. I had a particular fascination for apes so didn’t manage to get very far. Of course the fact that I’d conscripted my mother to type my book and that she was complaining about the workload didn’t help 🙂
    I’d forgotten that story until just now. Thanks for the opportunity to trip down memory lane, Jacqui.

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Leave a comment and I'll reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.