Skip to main content

Start Here: How do I pick the right materials for my research?

Why? Why Not?

Why? For an overview of a topic, for a detailed discussion of a topic, books are usually proofread, edited, and fact checked more extensively than other types of sources
Why not? Not for very recent topics, or very specific topics

Check your spelling and typing

In StyleCat, missing even one letter can get you incorrect or even no results.
If you get a “0” result for a search, go back one step to check if you’ve made a spelling or typing mistake. Ask for help if you’re still not sure!

Tips for finding and choosing books

Person holding a pile of booksStyleCat the FIT library’s online catalog, lists all books,e-books, periodical titles, and non-print material (e.g. DVDs, CDs, slides) that the library owns.

We have many locations in the library (several on each floor) so when you find a listing in StyleCat, note the title, author (if any) and FULL collection/call number (e.g. Main Stacks HD62.5 .M387 2005) to find the item on the shelf.

  • Use appropriate subject headings.
    When you search StyleCat  in its default setting (Search Type: All Fields), you are looking for all the words you've typed to be found in some combination of the title of the book/item, the author's name, the publisher's name, and the subject of the book/item.

    Sometimes that will get you good results, but sometimes you'll get too much, or too many irrelevant-looking items listed.
    Instead, you can choose to search by subject headings (choose Search Type: Words in Subject) which are specific words--like tags--assigned to describe an item.

  • Subject headings are like tags but are sometimes longer and use more formal language. They are mostly assigned by the Library of Congress, and are standardized for most college and university libraries in the US.
    They may or may not be the words you would use to describe something, but it allows most books on a subject to be found by searching a few specific word(s) or phrase(s) without having to try endless combinations like you might have to do on a search of the Internet.

  • There are some useful lists of subject headings or ask a Reference Librarian for help if you can't figure out what word or phrase would work best. For example, there are StyleCat  listings under all of the following subject headings covering a huge variety of topics:
    • Art deco
    • Clothing trade -- Directories
    • Costume – England
    • Melville, Herman
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art
    • Psychology
    • Small business
    • Versace, Gianni
  • For an overview of a topic, you can use a general ENCYCLOPEDIA.or a specialized subject ENCYCLOPEDIA, DICTIONARY, OR HANDBOOK.  
    Search StyleCat for these titles by using the subject you are looking for, along with the word or phrase “dictionaries”, “encyclopedias” or “handbooks, manuals, etc”.  
    For example:
    • Canada – Encyclopedias
    • Personnel management – Handbooks, manuals, etc.
    • Textile fabrics – Dictionaries
Have a question or comment about these guides? Contact: