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Collier's Encyclopedia (full title Collier's Encyclopedia with Bibliography and Index) was a U.S.-based general encyclopedia published by Crowell, Collier and Macmillan. Self-described in its preface as "a scholarly, systematic, continuously revised summary of the knowledge that is most significant to mankind", it was first published in 20 volumes in 1950–51 and in 1962 was expanded to 24 volumes. It was long considered one of the three major contemporary English-language general encyclopedias, together with Encyclopedia Americana and Encyclopædia Britannica: the three were sometimes collectively called "the ABCs".


The 1997 edition has 23,000 entries with few short entries, as related subjects are usually consolidated into longer articles. A high percentage of the illustrations are in color, and more full-color illustrations had been added in recent years resulting in pictorial matter accounting for about two-fifths of the pages. Bibliographies are found in the last volume which also contains the 450,000 entry essential index. An annual Collier's Year Book was also published.

In 1998 Microsoft bought the rights to Collier's electronic version and incorporated it into its Encarta electronic encyclopedia. Atlas Editions (formerly Collier Newfield) retained the rights to publish the encyclopedia in book form, though since then, Collier's has ceased to be in print.

Kister's Comparison

A well-known comparison is that of Kenneth Kister, who gave a qualitative and quantitative comparison of Collier's Encyclopedia with two comparable encyclopaedias, Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Encyclopedia Americana.[1] For the quantitative analysis, ten articles were selected at random (circumcision, Charles Drew, Galileo, Philip Glass, heart disease, IQ, panda bear, sexual harassment, Shroud of Turin and Uzbekistan) and letter grades (A–D, F) were awarded in four categories: coverage, accuracy, clarity, and recency. In all four categories and for all three encyclopaedias, the four average grades fell between B− and B+, chiefly because not one encyclopaedia had an article on sexual harassment in 1994. In the accuracy category, Collier's received one D and seven As. Encyclopedia Americana received eight As, and the Britannica received one D and eight As; thus, Collier's received an average score of 92% for accuracy to Americana’s 95% and Brittanica’ 92%. In the timeliness category, Collier's averaged an 85% to Americana’s 90% and Britannica's’ 86%. After a more thorough qualitative comparison of all three encyclopedias, Kister recommended Collier's Encyclopedia primarily on the strength of its writing, presentation and navigation.


  1. ^ Kister, KF (1994). Kister's Best Encyclopedias: A Comparative Guide to General and Specialized Encyclopedias (2nd ed.). Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. ISBN 0897747445.  

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