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Last updated 7/21/14
Isothermal Community College
P.O. Box 804, Spindale NC 28160
(828) 395-1307

Charles P. Wiggins, Director of Library Services

The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature

The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature is a tool found in most public and academic libraries, used for locating magazine articles on nearly any topic.  The Readers' Guide indexes articles that come from about 240 general-interest magazines; each volume is full of citations* for articles, listed alphabetically by the subject of the article. To the right is a sample page from the Readers' Guide which is arranged in two columns of text.

* The definition of a citation, according to the Northeastern University Libraries, is "information about a resource (book, article, etc.) such as the author, title, publisher, date of publication or copyright, place of publication, physical descriptors. Sufficient information is included to locate the original item." 

--NU Library Tutorial. 23 Sept, 2002. Northeastern University Libraries. 27 Sept. 2005. <>.

Click to enlarge sample page ◄ click to

Headings and Subheadings

Subject Headings in bold type are placed on the pages in alphabetical order, with citations of related articles listed below each one.

  • Employee health insurance is the subject heading at the top of the excerpt at right, with three citations, each representing an article, located immediately after it. 
Subheadings show as bold type placed in the center of the column, and identify narrower parts of the subject heading they follow.
  • The subheading Accounting, with one citation after it, and the subheading Costs, with two citations after it, appear in the center of the column below the subject heading.

Headings & subheadings example

How to Read a Citation in the Readers' Guide

Below is a sample citation from the sample page of the Readers' Guide.   The parts of each citation are always in the same order.  From left to right are shown: 1) the title of the article; 2) the first initial(s) and last name of the author; 3) the title of magazine or journal in which the article is located; 4) the volume and number of the issue of that magazine or journal; 5) the page number where the article can can be found; and 6) the date of the magazine or journal issue. 

Identifying parts of a citation

Readers' Guide citations include many abbreviations such as those in the example above. The meanings of the abbreviations in this example are: v = volume, no = number, p = page, and Ap = April. A list of abbreviations and what they mean can be found in the first few pages of any volume of the Readers' Guide.

"Enhancement" is the term the Readers' Guide uses for a phrase enclosed in brackets [ ] which sometimes appears after a title. When the title of an article is not clear enough to make it obvious what the article is about, an enhancement is placed after the title to clarify the subject.

Enhancement example

See and See also references appear often in the Readers' Guide.

A See reference after a heading, as in the example at right, tells you when a different heading is used instead of the term you are looking at. "See" reference example
A See alsoreference tells you of other headings you can look up which are about similar subjects. This is very useful when you are not able to find enough articles about your topic under the first heading you found. "See also" reference example

Authors' Names vs. Personal Names as Subject
Articles usually are listed under the author's name (last name, then first) as well as under the subject(s) the article is about. If an article is written about a person, the word "about" appears in italics in the center of the column, between the person's name (when listed as the subject heading) and the citation, as seen in the example below.  Note that this citation contains an "enhancement" (see explanation above).

"About" example

Please ask the library staff for assistance If you need help using the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, or for finding information in the library.

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