Definition and Scope of Encyclopedia
The word `encyclopaedia is derived from the Greek word `enkyklios paideia' meaning 'general education'. It meant `circle of knowledge' or `circle of learning' or `a complete system of '
The meaning of the term has undergone a considerable change during its long history. The term encyclopaedia is now applied to any reference work of one or more volumes consisting of articles pertaining to all branches or some special branch of human knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order. At the end of every article, it gives an exhaustive bibliography or references. It may also contain several illustrations, diagrams, photographs and sketches of notable persons, places or objects to assist the user in better understanding of the subject. A detailed index with cross-references helps tracing the spread over information in the articles easily and quickly.
The purpose of the modern encyclopaedia is to condense current and essential information in a short and simpler form to make it accessible to the non-specialist. Encyclopaedias are secondary sources. It can be general information for the layman or subject information for specialists. Encyclopaedias are also called `cyclopaedias' when they are limited to a specific subject.