Encyclop Dia Americana And Encyclop Dia Britannica

– Comparing Characteristics Essay, Research Paper

Mladen Markov

Encyclop dia Americana and Encyclop dia Britannica are two of the most popular English Encyclop dias. They have long history and have been developed for many years and now they meet the need of various adult audience. However, there are some differences between I will try to expose. Encyclop dia Americana and Encyclop dia Britannica will be compared according to the following areas: authoritativeness, purpose, scope, currency, physical makeup, organization, arrangement, indexes, aids tot he reader, and strong and weak points.

Encyclop dia Britannica (EB) is older than Encyclop dia Americana (EA). EB is originally published 1768-1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland. At the beginning of twenty century it is reissued by Encyclop dia Britannica, Inc, Chicago with the general contribution of the reputable University of Chicago. EA is first published 1829 by Grolier Incorporated. It is the first Encyclop dia published in United States, as a standard general reference work. Many American and international contributors (more than 6,000 for each Encyclop dia) aid preparing both EA and EB. However, EA’s contributors are mostly American, and EB has a great network of international contributors through the entire world. Both EA’s contributors and EB’s contributors are specialists in their field, with high level of qualification. Most articles in both Encyclop dias are signed. A list of authors’ qualifications is available near the beginning of volume one of Encyclop dia Americana, and in Propaedia of Encyclop dia Britannica.

The purpose of EA’s authors is to communicate to a wide range of readers. The audience should be academic, technical, scientific, and general public. Encyclop dia Americana is published in the belief that it provides an accurate and comprehensive picture of past and present times. It is supposed to be reliable, readable, and relevant to today’s needs. In general, EA’s authors have accomplished their goals. Encyclop dia Americana covers many different subjects from many different domains of human knowledge. Articles are written in comprehensive language that is easy readable by the general public. There are a lot of relevant illustrations, maps, and tables that are very helpful for both academic and general users. But, there are not enough long, thorough articles describing in depth specific and scientific topics that would be very useful for researchers, students, and teachers. EA’s audience is more general than academic (scientific). On the other hand, Encyclop dia Britannica is arranged in three parts – Micropaedia, Macropaedia, and Propaedia, for completely meeting needs of wide audience. Each part is prepared in regard of different user’s needs. Micropaedia contains tens of thousands of shorter articles on specific persons, places, things and ideas. It can be used as an information source on its own, and support for the longer articles in the Macropaedia. Micropaedia covers countless subjects in all fields of human learning and history. Macropaedia contains long, specialised articles on different topics that is very useful for depth research work. Propaedia also aids researchers and scholars giving them suggested readings in Encyclop dia Britannica. Subjects are classified in ten parts covering all fields of knowledge – Matter and Energy, The Earth, Life on Earth, Human life, Human society, Art, Technology, Religion, The history of Mankind, The branches of knowledge. I think, all this determines academic and scientific public as dominant EB’s audience.

It is difficult a encyclop dia to cover really all branches of knowledge. EA and EB cover well main branches such as History, Science & Technology, Arts, Religion, Geography, etc., and not so well branches as Entertainment and Sports. In general, both encyclop dias provide equal information about different topics from main branches of knowledge. But the way information is given is different. For example, in Encyclop dia Americana the article about Canada is 200 pages in length and it is divided in 10 parts – Modern Canada (1945-1992), History (Confederation, British North America, Early Exploration), Recreation, Arts, Literature, Sports, Education, Health & Welfare, Government & politics, Economy. In Encyclop dia Britannica the article under Canada in Macropaedia is not as long as EA’s one, and there are not subheadings and different parts, but it gives in addition to the body text an overview of all Canadian provinces. EA covers very well the general topics, but there are topics you couldn’t find anything about. Example, there is nothing about An Giang (region in Vietnam), and in EB there is a half page article about it. EA emphasises general subjects, and EB emphasises specific ones.

Both encyclop dias try to keep articles up-to-date. Each edition contents many revisions that revise certain sections each year. Encyclop dia Americana’s editors have developed a policy of continuous revision by the original authors or editors. There is a program of constant rebuilding and updating. Only Encyclop dia Americana issues yearbook named Americana Annual that updates the encyclop dia with important events from the year, statistics, stories, etc. However, statistics, maps, and bibliographies are not always up-to-date. For example, under Ottawa the last statistic date about population is 1981 in both encyclop dias. Works in bibliographies are in general not very current, often the latest date of publication is 1986.

Concerning the physical makeup, both encyclop dias are made in standard way, hard covered, and traditionally sized. Encyclop dia Americana has a little bit smaller volumes but font size is larger and the text is more clear and readable. EA holds nice appearance, well designed clear smooth pages, providing a lot of helpful colour illustrations that cover all branches of knowledge. Encyclop dia Britannica don’t look as good as EA. The font size is small, and the text is not very readable. There is no good contrast between text and page background. Pages are rough and not so pleasant for touching. Encyclop dia Britannica do not provide as many illustration as Encyclop dia Americana. Its illustrations are rarely coloured, small sized, and often difficult to understand.

Organisation is the main point on which EA and EB differ. Encyclop dia Americana has been prepared as classified lists of articles. This is the standard way for constructing an encyclop dia. The fifteenth edition of Encyclop dia Britannica has been constructed in sharp contrast to such editorial procedures. It is planned not in accordance with a classified list of articles but in the orderly topical outline of the whole of human knowledge in the form of the circle of learning. Its division into three parts is unique and very helpful for users. In accordance to the reason of searching users can chose the appropriate part of Encyclop dia Britannica. Propaedia is really a very original decision which is an invaluable guide for academic and scientific users. All small articles are arranged in Micropaedia. They have no subheadings, and the longer article is extended to a half page. Macropaedia is formed only by broad articles about general subjects, often structured using subheadings. Been constructed as a classified list of articles Encyclop dia Americana collects both small and long articles together. Depending on the topic articles could be with subheadings or not. Usually, articles under broad topics (country, branch of science, city, etc) are structured using subheadings. For example, the same topic Aerodynamics is covered in a different way in EA and EB. In EA the article is broad with subheadings covering all aspects of the topic (basic principles, applied aerodynamics, principle of air craft flight, research in aerodynamics, aerodynamics glossary), and a lot of helpful illustrations. All available information is putted in one long article. In EB the organisation is much more different. First, user checks the suggested readings about Aerodynamics in Propaedia that gives him all available articles in Encyclop dia Britannica. Then he chose either the short articles in Micropaedia that provide just general information and have no subheadings, or the broad articles in Macropaedia for research in depth. All this shows very well the different audiences of the two encyclop dias. Articles in EA are very useful for fast references and they communicate especially with the general public users. EB allows options for either fast searching in Micropaedia, or depth research in Macropaedia.

Encyclop dia Britannica is arranged according to the forms commonly used in indexes and dictionaries. Titles of certain physical features and institutions are ordinarily inverted to place the substantive word first. Thus the Bank of Montreal is entered Montreal, bank of. The arrangement in EB is alphabetical letter-by-letter. Encyclop dia Americana use the same tools for inverting words but the general arrangement is alphabetical word-by-word.

There is one volume single index in Encyclop dia Americana that contents more than 350,000 entries. It is preceded by guide to the use of the index. For each article there is a entry in the index that also lists the other places in the encyclop dia where information on the subject can be found. EA’s index has single alphabetical listing. Encyclop dia Britannica holds two volume single index with more than 400,000 references. Index gives location of all available information about a topic in Micropaedia and Macropaedia using a lot of cross references. There are subject headings with smaller subheadings. Entries are followed by an identifying phrase or word in parentheses. Example of entry:

Ankylosaurus (dinosaur genus)

1 : 424 : 2b

classification 17 : 329 : 2b

for a list of related subjects see Propaedia : section 313.

The aids to the reader are well developed in both encyclop dias. They offer a lot of cross references in the text within articles, at the end of articles, and in the indexes. Special charts for abbreviation are available at the end of every volume and in the index volume of Encyclop dia Americana. They also indicate pronunciation. Encyclop dia Britannica holds special charts for abbreviation in Micropaedia and the index volumes but they don’t indicate pronunciation. At the beginning of long articles in EA and EB’s Macropaedia there is table of contents that aids readers find coverage of specific topics in the article. Both encyclop dias provide bibliographies or further readings at the end of long articles that refer the reader to other materials for further research. Encyclop dia Americana is very well designed and constructed using all traditional aids to the reader but unfortunately it don’t have Propaedia that makes research process fast and easy. Propaedia is arranged by subjects, gives suggested readings in Encyclop dia Britannica using a lot of cross references.

Encyclop dia Americana covers well all subject areas equally without special emphasises. There are no articles biased towards one particular country or topic. All countries of the world are presented in the same way as United States or Canada. EB’s Micropaedia also covers all subjects equally. In addition, there is Macropaedia (Knowledge in Depth) that emphasises on general topics from certain subject areas as geography, science, arts, history, humanity. It is a very strong point for Encyclop dia Britannica. EB’s weak point is that United States and Canada are broadly covered than other countries. There are main entries just for U.S. and Canada in Macropaedia. Other countries are covered either in Micropaedia, or in Macropaedia under Continents /Countries headings. I couldn’t find any topics avoided or only treated marginally in both encyclop dias. For example, under abortion there is three page article with subheadings in EA, and two page article in EB’s Micropaedia. Superior features for Encyclop dia Americana are: glossaries defining technical or difficult terms accompany many articles. Full list of glossaries appears in the index entry glossary; There are separate articles on significant historical documents, important works of literature, philosophy, economics, and Bible; a lot of illustrations are used functionally to clarify and supplement the text (drawings, diagrams, graphs, maps, charts). Inferior feature is that there is no subject classification with suggested readings – reader will spend a lot of time for finding all available information on a subject in Encyclop dia Americana. The unique Table of Contents in Propaedia makes Encyclop dia Britannica not just “a storehouse of facts” but “a systematic survey of all departments of knowledge”. It is like a systematic subject catalogue or analysis of the materials contained in it. The organisation of EB is its strongest point. All three parts have significant value and meet the needs of really broad audience. There are small articles for fast reference searchers in Micropaedia, and there are also Propaedia (Suggested readings) and Macropaedia (Knowledge in Depth) for thorough research. Well constructed broad index using a lot of cross references and subheadings is another EB’s strong point. Bad typeface and illustrations’ insufficiency are EB’s inferior features.

Both encyclop dias have their particular strong and weak points. Fortunately, the strong points are more than the weak ones. There are few differences between due to the different editors’ purposes. I think, Encyclop dia Britannica emphasises a little bit more on specific subjects and topics for helping researchers first, and Encyclop dia Americana makes no special emphasise on some subject area providing easy readable by the general public information. In general, EA and EB are very well constructed and developed in all these years. The only think I could suggest editors and authors is to work hard for improving currency of both encyclop dias especially in the Science & Technology subject area.


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