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Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Books

This guide will help you learn how to evaluate different types of sources.

Evaluating Books

The CRAAP Test applied to books

Modified from Colorado State University Libraries

C: Currency


Look for the publication date: Topics such as health sciences, technology, or social trends require current information. Other subjects, such as art history or philosophy, value older material as well as current. Know the time needs of your topic and examine the timeliness of the book; is it:

  • up-to-date,

  • out-of-date, or

  • timeless?


A: Accuracy


Bibliography: Scholarly works always contain a bibliography of the resources that were consulted. The references in this list should be in sufficient quantity and be appropriate for the content. Look for:

  • if a bibliography exists,
  • if the bibliography is short or long,
  • if the bibliography is selective or comprehensive,
  • if the references are from high-quality sources (academic journals, credible journalists/publishers, government reports
  • if the references are contemporary to the book or much older, and
  • if the citation style is clear and consistent.



Does this book relate to my thesis statement or general topic? A well-researched, well-written, etc. book is not going to be helpful if it does not address the topic at hand. Ask, "is this book useful to me"? If it is useful, does it:

  • support or refute an argument
  • who is the audience for the book (general/academic/practitioners)
  • does the book address a topic from a certain point of view or timeframe

P: Purpose


Purpose: Why was the book written? To:

  • inform? For example: recount historical events, scholarly examination of a subject
  • persuade? For example: to change point of view, outlook, beliefs, or behavior
  • entertain? For example: most fiction, humor, gossip
  • teach how to do something? For example: handbooks to write resumes, some self-help books
  • give an overview? For example: textbooks, encyclopedias

A: Authority


Authority/author: Is the author an expert in this field? Where is the author employed? What else has he/she written? Who published this book (university press, self-published, commercial publisher, government)? Places to look for this information are:

  • the front or back cover of the book
  • inside title page
  • Google/web search 
  • employer website, if author is associated with a university or company