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Law Dictionaries & Reference Works: Print and electronic resources

A brief guide to finding and using legal reference works

Reference resources such as , dictionaries, encyclopediae and thesauri etc. are a quick and easy way to:

- examine facts and statistics about the world

- decipher abbreviations and definitions

- gain an overview of a topic                                           

They can be really useful resources as you begin your background research into a topic, before you move on to more in depth research.  The availability of many of these resources in online format has made discovery a much quicker and easier process.

View the full Law Subject Guide for guidance on other legal materials

Finding Resources Using Library Search

Library Search

Search across the print and online collections for books, chapters, articles, journals and lots more. 

Library Search will help you discover books, journals, articles, audio visual material and more on your chosen topic. This is a good place to start when you are beginning to research a topic as you can draw on content from a variety of different sources.

For more in depth research in databases and archives, use the A-Z Databases List.

Specialist Reference Works

As well as general reference works you will reference works which focus on particular legal topics or disciplines.

Examples include the following.  There are many more! Library Search will help you to find these.

Legal Dictionaries

You can use Library Search to discover online and print legal dictionary titles available to you.   

The Oxford Reference Online service also includes various legal dictionaries, that can be used for quick reference purposes, such as the Oxford Dictionary of Law.

Explore the full Oxford Reference Online service to see all the content that is available to you. 

Halsbury's Laws of England

The encyclopedia is arranged alphabetically by topic and provides up to date commentary and links to relevant caselaw and legislation. The online version via Lexis makes it easy for you to follow through references to relevant case law, legislation and commentary. It also makes it easy to search for topics that straddle a range of legal areas.

The multi volume print version is also available for quick reference in Bay 1 of the Law Library on the Exeter Campus

General Reference Works

There are many general reference works available to you at the university, including language dictionaries, thesauri, biographies etc.  You can find out more via the Online Reference Resources LibGuide.

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