Finding the Latest Edition of a Book

We've all been told: When you use a reference work, use the latest edition.

Fine and good. We understand the principle. The latest version is more likely to have up-to-the-minute guidance. If {shudder} there was an error in an earlier edition, the latest edition will likely correct it. Advice or information that is now obsolete will have been deleted.

But, how do we KNOW what’s the latest edition? Easy. Here are 3 quick options:


Remember the Library of Congress? That wonderful place where every USA-copyrighted book is deposited? The URL is easy to remember:  Click on “Library Catalog” and then type in the name of the book. You’ll get a list of all editions for that title.

LC catalog entries snippet

More than 72,000 libraries in 120 countries report their holdings to this online catalog operated by the {surprise} Online Computer Library Center. Type in the title there and in about 4 seconds flat, the search engine will scan 400,000,000 titles of works in 491 languages.  If you type in your zip code, it will also tell you the nearest libraries where you can find a free copy of the book.  The URL is simply  Do remember the “.org” part. If you type in, you’ll find yourself shopping for speedboats.

WorldCat snippet


This behemoth is not just for buying (though Jeff Bezos thinks so). It’s also a wonderful place to “look up” and “look for” all sorts of information on all sorts of things.

Snippet from Amazon page

But, of course, there are also times when we don't want the absolute latest edition. There are good reasons for that, too—even with Evidence Explained. The first edition has material the current “third edition revised” doesn’t have. The digital world, and digital sources, have changed a lot in just ten years. How often do you use a CD-ROM citation these days?

HOW TO CITE: Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Finding the Latest Edition of a Book," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained ( : posted 17 August 2018).