Home · General Resources · General Reference (37 sites)
Acronym Finder

Acronym Finder claims to provide the world’s largest and most comprehensive searchable database of acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms.

Bank of England: Statistics

The Statistics area of the Bank of England’s web site has an extensive range of monetary and financial data. This includes information on base rate changes since 1970, which is available in various different formats in the Interest and Exchange Rates Data section.

BBC News

The BBC’s news site, providing frequently updated news from the UK and around the world. The “Business” section has current market information.

British Library: Virtual Reference Library

Links to a wide range of general reference sources, the majority of which are free, selected by British Library staff.

British Standards Online

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the UK’s national standards body. This section of the BSI’s site provides a bibliographic, citation and full text database of over 90,000 British and international standards documents. Searching for British Standards and viewing search results is free to all. Those who register are able in addition to view summaries and to order hard copy documents online. Unlimited online access to British Standards in full text is available only to subscribers.

Charity Choice: Find a Charity

Searchable database providing contact details and short descriptions of aims and activities relating to over 160,000 charities in the UK. Search options include sector, name, location, and charity registration number.

Companies House

Companies House, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, carries out a number of functions, including registration, relating to limited companies and company records in the UK. Basic company information, forms and guidance documents are accessible free of charge in this section of the GOV.UK web site. More detailed information and a range of other services are available as subscription services.

Debrett’s Forms of Address

The publisher Debrett’s produces works of reference including guides to the British peerage and to manners and social etiquette. This section of its web site provides guidance on addressing people with titles, and a summary of the correct forms of address for members of the main professions, including the legal profession.

Dictionary.com

The main search options on this site are Dictionary and Thesaurus. Sources for the dictionary entries include the Random House Unabridged Dictionary and other dictionaries by American Heritage and Harper Collins. Thesaurus entries are from Roget’s Thesaurus. There is also a translation option within the dictionary.

Discovery

Discovery is the catalogue of the National Archives. Besides those of the National Archives themselves, it covers records in over 2,500 archives and institutions across the UK, and a small number of archives and institutions abroad. It has integrated and replaced several formerly separate services and web sites including the National Register of Archives (NRA), the ARCHON Directory and Access to Archives (A2A).

European Commission: Translation and Drafting Resources

This page on the European Commission web site provides links to guidance for translators and guides to style and clear writing in the official languages of the EU.

Google Maps UK

Interactive online maps which can be manipulated by dragging, zooming and panning. Businesses and other locations, including for example courts, with their addresses, can be searched for within the selected area. Other functions include satellite images, street views and a route planner. Although the home page of this UK site is centred on the British Isles, detailed maps for much of the rest of the world are also accessible.

Literary Encyclopedia

Scholarly encyclopedia, written by about 3,000 scholars and experts, covering the lives and works principally of English literary authors, as well as philosophers, musicians and artists. Some major non-English figures are also included. Other features of the site include an English style book and a glossary of literary terms. Some of the site content is free, but many features and functions are available only to subscribers.

Met Office

The Met Office is the UK’s national meteorological service. Its web site has extensive weather and climate information and news, including UK and world forecasts. There is a five year archive of news releases.

Metric Conversions

Metric Conversions is a UK based web site which provides an extensive range of online conversion calculators and tables. These include temperature, weight, length, area, volume, speed, time, angle, pressure and currency.

Money – Past, Present & Future

A guide to sources of information on the history of money and contemporary monetary developments, compiled by Roy Davies, a librarian (now retired) at the University of Exeter. The section “Current Value of Old Money” provides links to sources on changes in the value of money over time.

National Archives

The National Archives is the official archive of the UK government, responsible for looking after the records of central government and the courts of law and for making them as widely accessible as possible. It is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The site has an extensive range of research guides and other information, including an online catalogue (“Discovery”) containing more than 32 million descriptions of records. For archived digital government information, including archived “snapshots” of current and defunct government department web sites, select the home page quick link to “UK Government Web Archive”.

National Rail Enquiries

Information on Britain’s national rail network, including rail maps, guidance on journey planning and ticket purchase, live departure and arrival boards, and details of current service disruptions and engineering works. There are links (from the foot of any site page) to the individual train operating companies, many of which have downloadable timetables. Select “Timetables” near the foot of any page for a link to the Network Rail site where the complete National Rail Timetable is available online. Under the “Travel abroad” tab there is information with links relating to train travel to Europe.

OANDA

Comprehensive currency site containing a currency converter and several other free online currency tools including historical exchange rates. The currency converter covers all the world’s currencies and four metals, and historical exchange rates are searchable from 1 January 1990 onwards.

Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics, the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, is responsible for producing a wide range of economic and social statistics relating to life in the UK (including crime and justice), and for conducting the decennial population census. Information on its web site includes inflation tables (the Consumer Prices Index and the Retail Prices Index), trade figures, health statistics, and earnings and employment data.

Office for National Statistics: Inflation and Price Indices

Section of the official UK statistics site, providing information on, and tables of, the Consumer Prices Index, which the Government regards as the main UK domestic measure of inflation for macroeconomic purposes, and the various versions of the Retail Prices Index.

OnlineConversion.com

Extensive set of online conversion tools covering units of area, length/distance, speed, temperature, volume, weight and many others.

Ordnance Survey: Election Maps

This site, produced by Britain’s national mapping agency, features maps of the UK upon which administrative and electoral boundaries are marked, including those of local authorities, parliamentary and assembly constituencies, and European regions. Maps can be shown in a range of scales down to street level, and can be manipulated by zooming, dragging and panning.

Pacific Exchange Rate Service

This site, hosted by the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, provides current exchange rates but is designed primarily to provide historic rate data for academics and researchers. For the US dollar, Japanese yen, sterling and several major European currencies data extends back to 1971.

Phone Book

BT’s free online directory enquiries service. Individuals can be searched by name and location; businesses by name and location or type of business and location. There is also information on UK and international dial codes.

Post Office

Information on all of the Post Office’s postal and other services, including access to Royal Mail’s online Postcode/Address Finder.

Public Bodies

Public Bodies is an annual directory published by the Cabinet Office which provides information on non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) sponsored by the UK government. All editions from 1997 to the current one are available (1997 and 1998 directly, 1999 onwards as downloads) via this page on the GOV.UK web site.

Reuters UK

Web site of Reuters’ news agency in the UK, providing extensive business and financial news in addition to general national and world news. Registration (free of charge) is required for some sections of the site.

Roman Numerals

This page on the web site of the Nova Roma society provides a converter from Roman numerals to arabic and vice versa, together with a brief explanation of how the Roman numbering system works.

Royal Mail

Information on all Royal Mail services, including tables of postal prices and postcode and address finders.

Streetmap

Street map and address searching facilities for Great Britain, searchable by postcode, street or place.

Timeanddate.com

Extensive tabulated information and calculators relating to many aspects of time and dates. The “World Clock” in the Current Time section has current local times around the world. For all listed locations daily sunrise and sunset times are available, not just for the current year but also for earlier years, in some instances back to 1965. In the Calendar section there are yearly and monthly calendars for the years 1 to 3999. Other sections include an International Dialling Codes service, with information on dialling between many locations worldwide.

UK Web Archive

The UK Web Archive collects and preserves UK web sites of cultural, historical and political importance. It is provided by the British Library in partnership with the National Library of Wales, JISC and the Wellcome Library, and in collaboration with other specialist libraries. “Government, Law & Politics” is one of the collection’s main categories, and its subcategories include “Law and Legal System”, “Crime, Criminology, Police and Prisons” and “Public Inquiries”.

Weather Underground

Worldwide weather information, with conditions and forecasts for over 60,000 locations, about 300 of them in the UK. For many locations there is historical information on daily conditions back to 1996. To access this select “History & Almanac” under the relevant location.

Wikipedia

English language edition of the collaboratively written free online encyclopedia, containing over five million articles and covering up-to-the-minute issues and developments besides traditional encyclopedia subjects.

World Factbook

Online reference book (formerly also available in a print edition but now online only) published by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and updated every two weeks. It contains economic, political and geographical information on all countries and areas of the world, as well as maps. Appendices include a glossary of abbreviations, a list of international organizations, and a list of place-names cross referenced to country entries.

Yahoo! Finance

News and information on a wide range of financial topics, including market news and a currency converter. Market information includes historical share prices, to access which first select the company name (eg via FTSE 100 or FTSE 250 and then Components) and then select the Historical Data option on the company page that opens.