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Reading and making notes

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

What are e-books?

e-book with paper books

E-books are electronic versions of print texts. You can read them on various devices, including your laptop or University computers. The Library has purchased access rights to thousands of e-books which you can access and read on- or off-campus.

So when all the print copies of the book you wanted are out on loan... or you've reached your limit on the number of books you can borrow at any one time from the Library... or it's cold and raining and you don't want to leave your room - it's worth checking to see if there's an e-copy. 

E-books are available to you 24/7 from any device which is connected to the internet, so can be used anytime and anywhere.

Finding e-books using Enterprise

Limiting options on Enterprise showing 'Online' and 'Book' selectedThe Library has purchased thousands of e-books, all of which can be found using the Library catalogue Enterprise.

Enter your search words and when viewing your results use the limits on the left to limit your results to Online and Book:

Your results should now only include e-books. To read the e-book, follow the Click here for online access link and enter your university username and password.

Search Enterprise now using the box below:

Finding e-books using Summon

Publication type limits on Summon showing 'E-book' selectedMost of our e-books can also be found in Summon, the Library’s discovery service. Using Summon will give you more results, as it is often able to search for your words at chapter-level.

To only see e-books in your results list, select the Publication type 'E-book' from the limits on the left-hand side.

For more tips on searching Summon effectively take a look at this guide:

Search Summon using the box below (it is already set up to limit to books):

Why can't I access this e-book?

Some platforms only allow an e-book to be viewed by one or sometimes three people at a time.

If you get a message saying the e-book is already in use, take a quick break and try accessing it again after a few minutes.

If you’re experiencing technical difficulties accessing e-books, please get in touch with us using this form:

Navigating the text in e-books

Reading an e-book allows you to use features that print versions do not have. For instance, you can search the text to find key words or phrases.

Think carefully about what you need to search for to make sure that you do not end up with too many results to look through. It's a good idea to think about the purpose of your reading before you start - why are you reading this book, what do you already know and what do you need to find out? Answering these questions will help you to decide what to search for, and the best way to find it.

When you find the information you need, remember to read around it so that you can see and understand the context. It's more difficult to get an overview when reading an e-book, so always consider reading the introductory chapter and thinking about the purpose of your reading before you start.


search within e-book

Taking notes

You don’t always need a pen and paper when studying from e-books; on many of our e-book platforms you can take notes electronically. These notes will refer back to the page you were reading and include the title of the e-book, which can be a useful way to organise your notes.

You may need to create a personal account (unrelated to your University username and password) to store and/or export your notes, but you should usually be able to create and print your notes without such an account.

Referencing e-books

Many of our e-book platforms will let you directly export your references to a reference management software, such as EndNote. For more information take a look at the our guide to managing references:

When referencing e-books you might be able to cite them in exactly the same way as the print version and not even need to include the web address. However, if they are presented online in a different format, with different page numbers from the print version, you might need to reference the specific version. For advice on how to reference books and e-books see the examples in our Citing references guide: