Purple Bar
Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 6
Purple Bar
image of stack of books   Periodical Indexes are print publications that provide citations (publication information) for articles published in periodicals within specific time periods. Periodical indexes may also show citations for parts of books, book reviews, pamphlets, conference proceedings, dissertations, and government documents.

Some periodical indexes are general and cover many subjects, while others are subject specific. For example, Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and Poole's Index to Periodical Literature are general indexes. Business Periodicals Index and Applied Science & Technology Index are examples of subject-specific indexes.

purple bar
Locating older material (before the 1990s) usually requires the use of print indexes because most library databases do not include material prior to the mid-1980s or early 1990s. However, some databases do provide earlier materials, as explained in the "Databases" section later in this unit.

up arrow link to top of page  TOP
purple bar
Each periodical index will have an introduction/preface that explains how the entries are arranged, usage techniques, and what information the entries contain. Reading the introduction for the periodical index you are using will help you use it efficiently, get better results, and save time because entries in different periodical indexes will not look the same and may not give the same types of information.

Citations in indexes are arranged by subject and then by subsets of the subject underneath headings. Once relevant headings are located, look beneath them to read the citations, which usually contain the following information:
•  article title & author,
•  periodical title in which the article appears,
•  volume, issue, and date of the periodical, and
•  page numbers for the article.

The citations may also indicate if the article is illustrated or has a bibliography, as well as supply added notes to clarify the article's title and purpose.

Example Citation: To illustrate what a citation looks like, the following example was taken from the August 1992-July 1993 Business Periodicals Index:

Starving out the time gobblers [employees and visitors dropping in] R. Alexander. Superv Manage 38:8 Mr '93.
up arrow link to top of page  TOP
The pieces of this citation provide the following information:

Article Title
"Starving out the time gobblers"
Added Note
[employees and visitors dropping in]
Indicates who the "time gobblers" are.
R. Alexander
Periodical Title
Superv Manage
Often periodical titles are abbreviated in the citations. If so, the index will have a key that lists the abbreviations and the corresponding full titles. In this case, the full title is Supervisory Management.
Publishing Info
38:8 Mr '93
Gives the periodical's volume number, the article's page number(s), and the publication date. If the date is abbreviated, the index will have a key that shows what the abbreviations mean.

The next step would be to locate the March 1993 issue of Supervisory Management (either in the print collection or the online databases), find page 8, and read the article. How to locate articles using citation information is explained later in this unit.

 left arrow  Understanding the Search Tools Periodical Abstracts   right arrow 
Library Orientation Site Index
Updated 7/2004