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Reference Book Analysis. Susan Hanzelka LIBR 150: Spring 2008 Week 6 (400s & 800s). Merriam-Webster’s VISUAL Dictionary. Call Number: 423.1 MLS Bibliographic Citation:

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reference book analysis

Reference Book Analysis

Susan Hanzelka

LIBR 150: Spring 2008

Week 6 (400s & 800s)


VISUAL Dictionary

Call Number:


MLS Bibliographic Citation:

Corbeil, Jean-Claude, and Ariane Archambault. Merriam-Webster's VISUAL Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2006. Print.


After an introduction, which includes instructions on how to use this dictionary, the book is organized around major subject fields, corresponding themes, or individual objects.

arrangement categories
Arrangement (categories)
  • Astronomy: includes Celestial bodies, Astronomical observation, Astronautics.
  • Earth: includes Geography, Geology, Meteorology, Environment.
  • Plants: (one category).
arrangement categories1
Arrangement (categories)
  • Animals: includes Evolution of life, Simple organisms and echinoderms, Insects and arachnids, Mollusks, Crustaceans, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Insectivorous mammals, Rodents and lagomorphs, Ungulate mammals, Carnivorous mammals, Marine mammals, Primate mammals, Flying mammal, Marsupial mammals.
  • Human Being: includes Human body, Anatomy, Sense organs.
arrangement categories2
Arrangement (categories)
  • Food and Kitchen: includes Food, Kitchen.
  • House: includes Location, Elements of a house, Structure of a house, Heating, Air conditioning, Plumbing, Electricity, House furniture.
arrangement categories3
Arrangement (categories)
  • Do-It-Yourself and Gardening: includes Do-it-yourself, Gardening.
  • Clothing: (one category).
  • Personal Accessories and Articles: includes Personal accessories (jewelry, etc.), Personal articles (eyeglasses, luggage, etc.).
arrangement categories4
Arrangement (categories)
  • Arts and Architecture: includes Fine arts, Architecture, Graphic arts, Performing arts, Music, Crafts.
  • Communications and Office Automation: includes Communications, Office automation.
  • Transport and Machinery: includes Road transport, Rail transport, Maritime transport, Air transport, Handling, Heavy machinery.
arrangement categories5
Arrangement (categories)
  • Energy: includes Geothermal and fossil energy, Hydroelectricity, Nuclear energy, Solar energy, Wind energy.
  • Science: includes Chemistry, Physics (mechanics), Physics (electricity and magnetism), Physics (optics), Measuring devices, Scientific symbols.
  • Society: includes City, Justice, Economy and finance, Education, Religion, Politics, Weapons, Safety, Health, Family.
arrangement categories6
Arrangement (categories)
  • Sports and Games: includes Sports facilities, Track and field, Ball sports, Racket sports, Gymnastics, Aquatic and nautical sports, Combat sports, Strength sports, Equestrian sports, Precision and accuracy sports, Cycling, Motor sports, Winter sports, Sports on wheels, Aerial sports, Mountain sports, Outdoor leisure, Games.

Theindexisalphabetical and extremely extensive (32 pages of very tiny print).

  • This book includes everything from astronomy to sports!
  • “More than 20,000 terms indexed for easy reference.”
  • “6,000 full-color illustrations.”
  • Thisbookis up-to-date, through its publication year of 2006.
  • Some of the items are timeless, but I could see some becoming outdated with time (e.g., tools, weapons, vehicles, and other technology-related items).
intended and additional purposes
Intended andAdditional Purposes
  • “Ideal for teachers, parents, translators, and students of all skill levels including learners of English as a second language.”
  • Art students could use the illustrations as reference.
  • Biology and botany students would find this book useful, as there are several cross-sections, with all parts labeled.
  • The anatomy section would be useful for those considering a career in medicine.
intended and additional purposes1
Intended andAdditional Purposes
  • People who are unable to speak can use this as a communication tool.
  • The golf page would be great for the beginning golfer: shows you the different clubs, their range, and when to use them.
  • The office automation section has a wonderful illustration of a computer network, as well as servers, the internet, and computers. This would be great for a general introduction to technology class.
intended and additional purposes2
Intended andAdditional Purposes
  • The sewing section explains sewing terms, parts of a sewing machine, the difference between a marking dot, notch and dart, and the definitions for bias and selvage. Great for someone just learning to sew.
  • The Do-it-yourself section has pictures of common tools and materials. Do you know what a spud wrench looks like?
additional purposes reference question
Additional Purposes(Reference Question)

Question: What’s the difference between rowing and sculling?

Answer: Sculling is a race in which the rowers grip one oar in each hand. Rowing is a race in which rowers grip one oar in both hands.

additional purposes reference question1
Additional Purposes(Reference Question)

Question: In movie credits you always see “grip” and “gaffer”--what do they mean?

Answer: “Grip” is a person in charge of transporting, installing and handling film equipment, especially moving the dolly along its tracks. “Gaffer” is a person responsible for lighting and for managing the team of electricians.


Thisisahardcoverbookwith 952 pages. Its dimensions are 10 x 7.8 x 2.2 inches. There is also a leather version, a compact hardcover version, a CD-ROM version for Mac/Pc, and a website (

special features
Special Features
  • Color-coded pages with the colors and categories on the back of the book and at the beginning of the book.
  • “6,000 color illustrations grouped into 17 general subject areas and 94 specific themes.”
  • At the bottom of each index page is a listing of all the categories and their page numbers.
  • The category is listed at the top of each page.
  • Each part of each illustration is labeled and defined.
authority credentials

Jean-Claude Corbell is an “expert in linguistic planning, with a world-wide reputation in the fields of comparative terminology and socio-linguistics. He serves as a consultant to various international organizations and governments.”

Arlane Archambault is a “specialist in applied linguistics, has taught foreign languages and is now a terminologist and editor of dictionaries and reference books.”


Amazon Customer Review: “Our son found this dictionary and purchased it himself. As a deaf student, he has poured over the pages with delight. It is a wonderful reference for those with language problems, learning disabilities, and the curious in general. We were so impressed we donated 25 copies to our son's school for classroom use. The students and teachers have loved it!”(


Amazon Editorial Review: ”…The DK dictionary has a more sumptuous look, but some of the entries, such as those for the densely labeled "Competition Motorcycles" and "A Ship of the Line," can be confusing. If a library has to choose, it's the difference between stilettos and sensible shoes. DK is sexier, but Merriam-Webster, with its clear illustrations and added definitions, is probably a better educational tool.” Susan Awe (Booklist, a review journal of the American Library Association)(

personal impressions
Personal Impressions
  • I’m a very visual person and loved this book. I liked the cross-sections and all the labels to the parts of each item. And the scope and variety of all the items in this dictionary was amazing!
  • The index was so extensive, I felt like I could find anything!
  • The illustrations were very well done and were extremely detailed.
reference uses
Reference Uses
  • I would recommend this book for anyone trying to learn English as a second language.
  • I would recommend this for the school environment (elementary, middle school).
  • I would recommend this for the hearing-impaired, to help them communicate.
  • I would recommend this book for its entertainment value.
reference uses1
Reference Uses
  • I would recommend this book to graphic artists and illustrators as the illustrations are very detailed.
  • I would recommend this book to biology students, as the anatomy section is very well done, with all parts listed and defined.
  • I would recommend this book to people interested in insects and arachnids, as there are full color illustrations with descriptions and information.
complementary sources
Complementary Sources
  • DK Publishing, Ultimate Visual Dictionary. New York: DK Publishing, 2006. Print.
  • Dery, Bernard. The Visual Dictionary. 2 May 2009 <>.