Skip to Main Content

Types of Sources

Ask a Librarian

Sorry, we are currently offline.

When you hold a print item, it's fairly easy to determine the type of source it is because you can flip through the pages and find information about the publisher. But what about when you're viewing information on a website or in a database -- how do you tell which type of source it is? Below is an example of the same magazine article being accessed three different ways: in print, online, and in a database.

Use the tabs on the left or the links below to view tips & examples for identifying:

Example: Magazine


We have several popular periodicals in print, but the majority of our articles are only accessible online. Physical copies of select periodicals can be found in the library. Ask the library staff for their location at your campus library.

Time magazine cover Page of Time magazine



Let's say you're working on a research project about gun violence and want to do some background research. You search Google and find a link from about your topic -- only to find there's a paywall to access the article. While most periodicals have a website, not all the content on that website is free -- periodicals make money through subscriptions and advertising so they're not going to give away all of their content.

You still want to see the article because it looks like a good potential source, but you don't have to pay the publisher for access. Simply take the title of the article and search for it in Search@UW; you'll have the option (depending on the library's subscriptions) to view the article in full text or request the article via InterLibrary Loan.

This Time Magazine article is only available to subscribers



You found the article in your Search@UW results list and clicked on "View It Now" to select the database to go into to view the article. In the database, you have more information about the article including citation information, subject terms, and an abstract. Many articles are available in PDF Full Text so you can read it instantly. If there isn't a full text option, you can request the article via Interlibrary Loan.

Time magazine in database has PDF Full Text


You can read the article in the viewer, print it out, or download it as a PDF. In some database viewers (like EBSCO databases), you also have the option to browse through the entire issue you're currently viewing. So if you want to see the cover of the magazine or what other topics are discussed in the issue you can. **Note: This feature is not available in all databases.

Page of Time magazine article as PDF in database