Britannica 's thistle logo
|Author||As of 2008, 4,411 named contributors|
|Illustrator||Several, initial engravings by Andrew Bell|
United States (1901–present)
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
|1768–2010 (printed version)|
|Media type||32 volumes, hardbound (15th edition, 2010); now only available digitally|
|Pages||32,640 (15th edition, 2010)|
|LC Class||AE5 .E363 2007|
|Text||Encyclopædia Britannica at Wikisource|
The Encyclopædia Britannica (Latin for "British Encyclopaedia"), published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia. In 2012, it was announced that the 2010 edition was the last printed edition that would be published. It is written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 contributors, including 110 Nobel Prize winners and five American presidents.
The Britannica is the oldest English-language encyclopaedia still being produced. It was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland as three volumes. The encyclopaedia grew in size: the second edition was 10 volumes, and by its fourth edition (1801–1810) it had expanded to 20 volumes. Its rising stature as a scholarly work helped recruit eminent contributors, and the 9th (1875–1889) and 11th editions (1911) are landmark encyclopaedias for scholarship and literary style. Beginning with the 11th edition and its acquisition by an American firm, the Britannica shortened and simplified articles to broaden its appeal in the North American market. In 1933, the Britannica became the first encyclopaedia to adopt "continuous revision", in which the encyclopaedia is continually reprinted and every article updated on a schedule. In March 2012, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced it would no longer continue to publish its printed editions, instead focusing on its online version, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Its final print edition was in 2010, a 32-volume set.
The 15th and last edition has a three-part structure: a 12-volume Micropædia of short articles (generally fewer than 750 words), a 19-volume Macropædia of long articles (two to 310 pages) and a single Propædia volume to give a hierarchical outline of knowledge. The Micropædia is meant for quick fact-checking and as a guide to the Macropædia; readers are advised to study the Propædia outline to understand a subject's context and to find more detailed articles. The size of the Britannica has remained roughly constant over 70 years, with about 40 million words on half a million topics. Although publication has been based in the United States since 1901, the Britannica has largely maintained British spelling. The last printed version of Britannica contained approximately forty thousand articles.
Present status 1
- Print version 1.1
- Related printed material 1.2
- Optical disc, online, and mobile versions 1.3
Personnel and management 2
- Contributors 2.1
- Staff 2.2
- Editorial advisors 2.3
- Corporate structure 2.4
- Print encyclopaedias 3.1
- Digital encyclopaedias on optical media 3.2
- Internet encyclopaedias 3.3
Critical and popular assessments 4
- Reputation 4.1
- Awards 4.2
- Coverage of topics 4.3
- Editorial choices 4.4
- Criticism 4.5
- 1768–1826 5.1.1
- 1827–1901 5.1.2
- 1901–1973 5.1.3
- 1974–1994 5.1.4
- 1994–present 5.1.5
- Dedications 5.2
- Editions 5.1
- Edition summary 6
- See also 7
- References 8
- Further reading 9
- External links 10
Since 1985, the Britannica has had four parts: the Micropædia, the Macropædia, the Propædia, and a two-volume index. The Britannica's articles are found in the Micro- and Macropædia, which encompass 12 and 17 volumes, respectively, each volume having roughly one thousand pages. The 2007 Macropædia has 699 in-depth articles, ranging in length from 2 to 310 pages and having references and named contributors. In contrast, the 2007 Micropædia has roughly 65,000 articles, the vast majority (about 97%) of which contain fewer than 750 words, no references, and no named contributors. The Micropædia articles are intended for quick fact-checking and to help in finding more thorough information in the Macropædia. The Macropædia articles are meant both as authoritative, well-written articles on their subjects and as storehouses of information not covered elsewhere. The longest article (310 pages) is on the United States, and resulted from the merger of the articles on the individual states. The 2013 edition of Britannica contained approximately forty thousand articles, and by comparison to WorldHeritage, was over one hundred times smaller than the - specifically, 4,760,492 articles in English (as of January 21, 2015).
Information can be found in the Britannica by following the cross-references in the Micropædia and Macropædia; however, these are sparse, averaging one cross-reference per page. Hence, readers are recommended to consult instead the alphabetical index or the Propædia, which organises the Britannica's contents by topic.
The core of the Propædia is its "Outline of Knowledge", which aims to provide a logical framework for all human knowledge. Accordingly, the Outline is consulted by the Britannica's editors to decide which articles should be included in the Micro- and Macropædia. The Outline is also intended to be a study guide, to put subjects in their proper perspective, and to suggest a series of Britannica articles for the student wishing to learn a topic in depth. However, libraries have found that it is scarcely used, and reviewers have recommended that it be dropped from the encyclopaedia. The Propædia also has color transparencies of human anatomy and several appendices listing the staff members, advisors, and contributors to all three parts of the Britannica.
Taken together, the Micropædia and Macropædia comprise roughly 40 million words and 24,000 images. The two-volume index has 2,350 pages, listing the 228,274 topics covered in the Britannica, together with 474,675 subentries under those topics. The Britannica generally prefers British spelling over American; for example, it uses colour (not color), centre (not center), and encyclopaedia (not encyclopedia). However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as defense rather than defence. Common alternative spellings are provided with cross-references such as "Color: see Colour."
Since 1936, the articles of the Britannica have been revised on a regular schedule, with at least 10% of them considered for revision each year. According to one Britannica website, 46% of its articles were revised over the past three years; however, according to another Britannica web-site, only 35% of the articles were revised.
The alphabetisation of articles in the Micropædia and Macropædia follows strict rules. Charles III of France precedes Charles I of England, listed in Britannica as the ruler of Great Britain and Ireland. (That is, they are alphabetised as if their titles were "Charles, France, 3" and "Charles, Great Britain and Ireland, 1".) Similarly, places that share names are organised alphabetically by country, then by ever-smaller political divisions.
In March 2012, the company announced that the 2010 edition would be the last printed version. This was announced as a move by the company to adapt to the times and focus on its future using digital distribution. The peak year for the printed encyclopaedia was 1990 when 120,000 sets were sold, but it dropped to 40,000 in 1996. 12,000 sets of the 2010 edition were printed, of which 8,000 had been sold as of 2012. By late April 2012, the remaining copies of the 2010 edition had sold out at Britannica's online store.
Related printed material
Britannica Junior was first published in 1934 as 12 volumes. It was expanded to 15 volumes in 1947, and renamed Britannica Junior Encyclopædia in 1963. It was taken off the market after the 1984 printing.
A British Children's Britannica edited by John Armitage was issued in London in 1960. Its contents were determined largely by the 11-plus standardised tests given in Britain. Britannica introduced the Children's Britannica to the U.S. market in 1988, aimed at ages 7 to 14.
In 1961 a 16 volume Young Children's Encyclopaedia was issued for children just learning to read.
My First Britannica is aimed at children ages six to twelve, and the Britannica Discovery Library is for children aged three to six (issued 1974 to 1991).
There have been and are several abridged Britannica encyclopaedias. The single-volume Britannica Concise Encyclopædia has 28,000 short articles condensing the larger 32-volume Britannica. Compton's by Britannica, first published in 2007, incorporating the former Compton's Encyclopedia, is aimed at 10–17-year-olds and consists of 26 volumes and 11,000 pages.
Since 1938, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. has published annually a Book of the Year covering the past year's events. A given edition of the Book of the Year is named in terms of the year of its publication, though the edition actually covers the events of the previous year. Articles dating back to the 1994 edition are included online. The company also publishes several specialised reference works, such as Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Life and Works of the Bard (Wiley, 2006).
Optical disc, online, and mobile versions
The Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite 2012 DVD contains over 100,000 articles. This includes regular Britannica articles, as well as others drawn from the Britannica Student Encyclopædia, and the Britannica Elementary Encyclopædia. The package includes a range of supplementary content including maps, videos, sound clips, animations and web links. It also offers study tools and dictionary and thesaurus entries from Merriam-Webster.
Britannica Online is a website with more than 120,000 articles and is updated regularly. It has daily features, updates and links to news reports from The New York Times and the BBC. As of 2009, roughly 60% of Encyclopædia Britannica's revenue came from online operations, of which around 15% came from subscriptions to the consumer version of the websites. As of 2006, subscriptions were available on a yearly, monthly or weekly basis. Special subscription plans are offered to schools, colleges and libraries; such institutional subscribers constitute an important part of Britannica's business. Articles may be accessed online for free, but only a few opening lines of text are displayed. Beginning in early 2007, the Britannica made articles freely available if they are hyperlinked from an external site.
On 20 February 2007, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced that it was working with mobile phone search company AskMeNow to launch a mobile encyclopaedia. Users will be able to send a question via text message, and AskMeNow will search Britannica's 28,000-article concise encyclopaedia to return an answer to the query. Daily topical features sent directly to users' mobile phones are also planned. On 3 June 2008, an initiative to facilitate collaboration between online expert and amateur scholarly contributors for Britannica's online content (in the spirit of a wiki), with editorial oversight from Britannica staff, was announced. Approved contributions would be credited, though contributing automatically grants Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. perpetual, irrevocable license to those contributions.
On 22 January 2009, Britannica's president, —and Richard Evelyn Byrd took the Britannica as reading material for his five-month stay at the South Pole in 1934, while Philip Beaver read it during a sailing expedition. More recently, A.J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, read the entire 2002 version of the 15th edition, describing his experiences in the well-received 2004 book, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. Only two people are known to have read two independent editions: the author C. S. Forester and Amos Urban Shirk, an American businessman, who read the 11th and 14th editions, devoting roughly three hours per night for four and a half years to read the 11th. Several editors-in-chief of the Britannica are likely to have read their editions completely, such as William Smellie (1st edition), William Robertson Smith (9th edition), and Walter Yust (14th edition).
The CD/DVD-ROM version of the Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, received the 2004 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers. On 15 July 2009, Encyclopædia Britannica was awarded a spot as one of "Top Ten Superbrands in the UK" by a panel of more than 2,000 independent reviewers, as reported by the BBC.
Coverage of topics
Topics are chosen in part by reference to the Propædia "Outline of Knowledge". The bulk of the Britannica is devoted to geography (26% of the Macropædia), biography (14%), biology and medicine (11%), literature (7%), physics and astronomy (6%), religion (5%), art (4%), Western philosophy (4%), and law (3%). A complementary study of the Micropædia found that geography accounted for 25% of articles, science 18%, social sciences 17%, biography 17%, and all other humanities 25%. Writing in 1992, one reviewer judged that the "range, depth, and catholicity of coverage [of the Britannica] are unsurpassed by any other general Encyclopaedia."
The Britannica does not cover topics in equivalent detail; for example, the whole of Buddhism and most other religions is covered in a single Macropædia article, whereas 14 articles are devoted to Christianity, comprising nearly half of all religion articles. However, the Britannica has been lauded as the least biased of general Encyclopaedias marketed to Western readers and praised for its biographies of important women of all eras.
It can be stated without fear of contradiction that the 15th edition of the Britannica accords non-Western cultural, social, and scientific developments more notice than any general English-language encyclopedia currently on the market.—Kenneth Kister, in Kister's Best Encyclopedias (1994)
The Britannica is occasionally criticised for its editorial choices. Given its roughly constant size, the encyclopaedia has needed to reduce or eliminate some topics to accommodate others, resulting in controversial decisions. The initial 15th edition (1974–1985) was faulted for having reduced or eliminated coverage of children's literature, military decorations, and the French poet Joachim du Bellay; editorial mistakes were also alleged, such as inconsistent sorting of Japanese biographies. Its elimination of the index was condemned, as was the apparently arbitrary division of articles into the Micropædia and Macropædia. Summing up, one critic called the initial 15th edition a "qualified failure...[that] cares more for juggling its format than for preserving information." More recently, reviewers from the American Library Association were surprised to find that most educational articles had been eliminated from the 1992 Macropædia, along with the article on psychology.
Britannica-appointed contributors are occasionally mistaken or unscientific. A notorious instance from the Britannica's early years is the rejection of classical element of fire. However, the Britannica has also staunchly defended a scientific approach to emotional topics, as it did with William Robertson Smith's articles on religion in the 9th edition, particularly his article stating that the Bible was not historically accurate (1875).
The Britannica has received criticism, especially as editions become outdated. It is expensive to produce a completely new edition of the Britannica, and its editors delay for as long as fiscally sensible (usually about 25 years). For example, despite continuous revision, the 14th edition became outdated after 35 years (1929–1964). When American physicist Harvey Einbinder detailed its failings in his 1964 book, The Myth of the Britannica, the encyclopaedia was provoked to produce the 15th edition, which required 10 years of work. It is still difficult to keep the Britannica current; one recent critic writes, "it is not difficult to find articles that are out-of-date or in need of revision", noting that the longer Macropædia articles are more likely to be outdated than the shorter Micropædia articles. Information in the Micropædia is sometimes inconsistent with the corresponding Macropædia article(s), mainly because of the failure to update one or the other. The bibliographies of the Macropædia articles have been criticised for being more out-of-date than the articles themselves.
In 2010 an inaccurate entry about the Irish civil war was discussed in the Irish press following a decision of the Department of Education and Science to pay for online access.
Speaking of the 3rd edition (1788–1797), Britannica's chief editor  In March 2006, the Britannica wrote, "we in no way mean to imply that Britannica is error-free; we have never made such a claim." The sentiment is expressed by its original editor, William Smellie:
With regard to errors in general, whether falling under the denomination of mental, typographical or accidental, we are conscious of being able to point out a greater number than any critic whatever. Men who are acquainted with the innumerable difficulties of attending the execution of a work of such an extensive nature will make proper allowances. To these we appeal, and shall rest satisfied with the judgment they pronounce.—William Smellie, in the Preface to the 1st edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica
Past owners have included, in chronological order, the Edinburgh, Scotland printers Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell, Scottish bookseller Archibald Constable, Scottish publisher A & C Black, Horace Everett Hooper, Sears Roebuck and William Benton. The present owner of Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. is Jacqui Safra, a Swiss billionaire and actor. Recent advances in information technology and the rise of electronic encyclopaedias such as Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, Encarta and WorldHeritage have reduced the demand for print encyclopaedias. To remain competitive, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. has stressed the reputation of the Britannica, reduced its price and production costs, and developed electronic versions on CD-ROM, DVD, and the World Wide Web. Since the early 1930s, the company has promoted spin-off reference works.
The Britannica has been issued in 15 editions, with multi-volume supplements to the 3rd and 4th editions (see the Table below). The 5th and 6th editions were reprints of the 4th, the 10th edition was only a supplement to the 9th, just as the 12th and 13th editions were supplements to the 11th. The 15th underwent massive re-organisation in 1985, but the updated, current version is still known as the 15th. The 14th and 15th editions were edited every year throughout their runs, so that later printings of each were entirely different from early ones.
Throughout history, the Britannica has had two aims: to be an excellent reference book and to provide educational material. In 1974, the 15th edition adopted a third goal: to systematise all human knowledge. The history of the Britannica can be divided into five eras, punctuated by changes in management or re-organisation of the dictionary.
In the first era (1st–6th editions, 1768–1826), the Britannica was managed and published by its founders, Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell, by Archibald Constable, and by others. The Britannica was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh as the Encyclopædia Britannica, or, A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a New Plan. In part, it was conceived in reaction to the French Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert (published 1751–72), which had been inspired by Chambers's Cyclopaedia (first edition 1728). The Britannica was primarily a Scottish enterprise; it is one of the most enduring legacies of the Scottish Enlightenment. In this era, the Britannica moved from being a three-volume set (1st edition) compiled by one young editor—William Smellie—to a 20-volume set written by numerous authorities. Several other encyclopaedias competed throughout this period, among them editions of Abraham Rees's Cyclopædia and Coleridge's Encyclopædia Metropolitana and David Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopædia.
During the second era (7th–9th editions, 1827–1901), the Britannica was managed by the Edinburgh publishing firm, A & C Black. Although some contributors were again recruited through friendships of the chief editors, notably Macvey Napier, others were attracted by the Britannica's reputation. The contributors often came from other countries and included the world's most respected authorities in their fields. A general index of all articles was included for the first time in the 7th edition, a practice maintained until 1974. The first English-born editor-in-chief was Thomas Spencer Baynes, who oversaw the production of the 9th edition; dubbed the "Scholar's Edition", the 9th is the most scholarly Britannica. After 1880, Baynes was assisted by William Robertson Smith. No biographies of living persons were included. James Clerk Maxwell and Thomas Huxley were special advisors on science. However, by the close of the 19th century, the 9th edition was outdated and the Britannica faced financial difficulties.
In the third era (10th–14th editions, 1901–73), the Britannica was managed by American businessmen who introduced direct marketing and door-to-door sales. The American owners gradually simplified articles, making them less scholarly for a mass market. The 10th edition was a nine-volume supplement to the 9th, but the 11th edition was a completely new work, and is still praised for excellence; its owner, Horace Hooper, lavished enormous effort on its perfection. When Hooper fell into financial difficulties, the Britannica was managed by Sears Roebuck for 18 years (1920–23, 1928–43). In 1932, the vice-president of Sears, Elkan Harrison Powell, assumed presidency of the Britannica; in 1936, he began the policy of continuous revision. This was a departure from earlier practice, in which the articles were not changed until a new edition was produced, at roughly 25-year intervals, some articles unchanged from earlier editions. Powell developed new educational products that built upon the Britannica's reputation. In 1943 Sears donated the Encyclopædia Britannica to the University of Chicago. William Benton, a vice president of the University provided the working capital for its operation. The stock was divided between Benton and the University with the University holding an option on the stock. William B. Benton, became Chairman of the Board and managed the Britannica until his death in 1973. Benton set up the Benton Foundation, which managed the Britannica until 1996. In 1968, near the end of this era, the Britannica celebrated its bicentennial.
In the fourth era (1974–94), the Britannica introduced its 15th edition, which was re-organised into three parts: the
- Official website
- 3rd edition (first volume, use search facility for others) at Bavarian State Library 
- 8th edition (index volume, use search facility for others) at Bavarian State Library 
- 9th edition (1878+), fully scanned and partially transcribed at Wikisource
- 11th edition (1911), fully scanned and partially transcribed at Wikisource
- 12th edition (1922), fully scanned and partially transcribed at Wikisource
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Britannica 3 is difficult to use ... the division of content between Micropædia and Macropædia makes it necessary to consult another volume in the majority of cases; indeed, it was our experience that even simple searches might involve eight or nine volumes.
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- According to Kister (1994), the initial 15th edition (1974) required over $32 million dollars to produce.
- Cunningham, Grainne (3 February 2010). "Britannica errors spark unholy row".
- Sheehy, Clodagh (4 February 2010). "Are they taking the Mick? It's the encyclopedia that thinks the Civil War was between the north and south". Evening Herald (Dublin).
- Supplement to the Encyclopædia or Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Miscellaneous Literature. 1803. pp. iv.
Day, Peter (17 December 1997). "Encyclopaedia Britannica changes to survive". BBC News. Retrieved 27 March 2007.
Sales plummeted from 100,000 a year to just 20,000.
- "Encyclopedias and Dictionaries". Encyclopædia Britannica 18 (15th ed.).
- Krapp, Philip; Balou, Patricia K. (1992). Collier's Encyclopedia 9. New York: Macmillan Educational Company. p. 135. The Britannica's 1st edition is described as "deplorably inaccurate and unscientific" in places.
- On editions of the Britannica through 1803 see Kafker and Loveland, eds, Early Britannica,
- Cousin, John William (1910). " Baynes, Thomas Spencer". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
- Chicago Tribune, February 22, 1945
- Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1943
- Mortimer J. Adler, A Guidebook to Learning: for the lifelong pursuit of wisdom. MacMillan Publishing Company, New York, 1986. p.88
- Pepitone, Julianne (13 March 2012). "Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing books". CNN. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- The Britannica online store http://store.britannica.com/products/043009100
- Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1910. p. 3.
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica (15th edition, Propædia ed.). p. 3.
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Propædia: Outline of Knowledge and Guide to the Britannica, 15th edition, 2010.
- Writings of Archibald Constable, as quoted on p. 58 of Frank Kafker and Jeff Loveland (eds), The Early Britannica, Oxford University Press, 2009. Constable estimated in 1812 that there had been 3,500 copies printed, but revised his estimate to 3,000 in 1821.
- According to Smellie, it was 10,000, as quoted by Robert Kerr in his "Memoirs of William Smellie." Archibald Constable was quoted as saying the production started at 5,000 and concluded at 13,000. All this information is found in the 14th edition of Britannica, Volume 8, in the article "Encyclopedia" on page 374.
- This is stated in the 9th edition of Britannica in Volume VIII in the article "Encyclopedia".
- in the 14th edition of Britannica, Volume 8, in the article "Encyclopedia" on page 376, it gives the numbers of 10,000 sets sold by Britannica plus 45,000 genuine American reprints by Scribner's Sons, and "several hundred thousand sets of mutilated and fraudulent 9th editions were sold..." Most sources estimate there were 500,000 pirated sets.
- List of encyclopedias by branch of knowledge
- List of encyclopedias by language#English
- List of historical encyclopedias
- List of online encyclopedias
|Edition/supplement||Publication years||Size||Sales||Chief editor(s)||Notes|
|1st||1768–1771||3 volumes, 2,670 pages, 160 plates||3,000||William Smellie||Largely the work of one editor, Smellie; 3,000 sets sold; 30 articles longer than three pages|
|2nd||1777–1784||10 volumes, 8,595 pages, 340 plates||1,500||James Tytler||Largely the work of one editor, Tytler; 150 long articles; pagination errors; all maps under "Geography" article; 1,500 sets sold |
|3rd||1788–1797||18 volumes, 14,579 pages, 542 plates||10,000 or 13,000||George Gleig||£42,000 profit on 10,000 copies sold; first dedication to monarch; pirated by Moore in Dublin and Thomas Dobson in Philadelphia|
|supplement to 3rd||1801, revised in 1803||2 volumes, 1,624 pages, 50 plates||George Gleig||Copyright owned by Thomas Bonar|
|4th||1801–1810||20 volumes, 16,033 pages, 581 plates||4,000||James Millar||Authors first allowed to retain copyright. Material in the supplement to 3rd not incorporated due to copyright issues.|
|5th||1815–1817||20 volumes, 16,017 pages, 582 plates||James Millar||Reprint of the 4th edition. Financial losses by Millar and Andrew Bell's heirs; EB rights sold to Archibald Constable|
|supplement to 5th||1816–1824||6 volumes, 4,933 pages, 125 plates1||10,500||Macvey Napier||Famous contributors recruited, such as Sir Humphry Davy, Sir Walter Scott, Malthus|
|6th||1820–1823||20 volumes||Charles Maclaren||Reprint of the 4th and 5th editions with modern font. Constable went bankrupt on 19 January 1826; EB rights eventually secured by Adam Black|
|7th||1830–1842||21 volumes, 17,101 pages, 506 plates, plus a 187-page index volume||5,000||Macvey Napier, assisted by James Browne, LLD||Widening network of famous contributors, such as Sir David Brewster, Thomas de Quincey, Antonio Panizzi; 5,000 sets sold |
|8th||1853–1860||21 volumes, 17,957 pages, 402 plates; plus a 239-page index volume, published 18612||8,000||Thomas Stewart Traill||Many long articles were copied from the 7th edition; 344 contributors including William Thomson; authorized American sets printed by Little, Brown in Boston; 8,000 sets sold altogether|
|9th||1875–1889||24 volumes, plus a 499-page index volume labeled Volume 25||55,000 authorized plus 500,000 pirated sets||Thomas Spencer Baynes (1875–80); then W. Robertson Smith||Some carry-over from 8th edition, but mostly a new work; high point of scholarship; 10,000 sets sold by Britannica and 45,000 authorized sets made in USA by Little, Brown in Boston and Schribners' Sons in NY, but pirated widely (500,000 sets) in the U.S.3|
supplement to 9th
|1902–1903||11 volumes, plus the 24 volumes of the 9th4||70,000||Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace and Hugh Chisholm in London; Arthur T. Hadley & Franklin Henry Hooper in New York City||American partnership bought EB rights on 9 May 1901; high-pressure sales methods|
|11th||1910–1911||28 volumes, plus volume 29 index||1,000,000||Hugh Chisholm in London, Franklin Henry Hooper in New York City||Another high point of scholarship and writing; more articles than the 9th, but shorter and simpler; financial difficulties for owner, Horace Everett Hooper; EB rights sold to Sears Roebuck in 1920|
supplement to 11th
|1921–1922||3 volumes with own index, plus the 29 volumes of the 11th5||Hugh Chisholm in London, Franklin Henry Hooper in New York City||Summarised state of the world before, during, and after World War I|
supplement to 11th
|1926||3 volumes with own index, plus the 29 volumes of the 11th6||James Louis Garvin in London, Franklin Henry Hooper in New York City||Replaced 12th edition volumes; improved perspective of the events of 1910–1926|
|14th||1929–1933||24 volumes 7||James Louis Garvin in London, Franklin Henry Hooper in New York City||Publication just before Great Depression was financially catastrophic|
|revised 14th||1933–1973||24 volumes 7||Franklin Henry Hooper until 1938; then Walter Yust, Harry Ashmore, Warren E. Preece, William Haley||Began continuous revision in 1936: every article revised at least twice every decade|
|15th||1974–1984||30 volumes 8||Warren E. Preece, then Philip W. Goetz||Introduced three-part structure; division of articles into Micropædia and Macropædia; Propædia Outline of Knowledge; separate index eliminated|
|1985–2010||32 volumes 9||Philip W. Goetz, then Robert McHenry, currently Dale Hoiberg||Restored two-volume index; some Micropædia and Macropædia articles merged; slightly longer overall; new versions were issued every few years. Last printed edition.|
The Britannica was  while the 2010 version of the current 15th edition is "dedicated by permission to Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II."
The editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, the world standard in reference since 1768, present the Britannica Global Edition. Developed specifically to provide comprehensive and global coverage of the world around us, this unique product contains thousands of timely, relevant, and essential articles drawn from the Encyclopædia Britannica itself, as well as from the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, the Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions, and Compton's by Britannica. Written by international experts and scholars, the articles in this collection reflect the standards that have been the hallmark of the leading English-language encyclopedia for over 240 years.
Britannica's final print edition was in 2010, a 32-volume set. Britannica Global Edition was printed in 2010. It contained 30 volumes and 18,251 pages, with 8,500 photographs, maps, flags, and illustrations in smaller "compact" volumes. It contained over 40,000 articles written by scholars from across the world, including Nobel Prize winners. Unlike the 15th edition, it did not contain Macro- and Micropædia sections, but ran A through Z as all editions up to the 14th had. The following is Britannica's description of the work:
 In the fifth era (1994–present), digital versions have been developed and released on
 When , taking anywhere from three to 22 years to do so.Britannica To further their education, some people have devoted themselves to reading the entire  has a reputation for summarising knowledge.Britannica The
Since the 3rd edition, the Britannica has enjoyed a popular and critical reputation for general excellence. The 3rd and the 9th editions were pirated for sale in the United States, beginning with Dobson's Encyclopaedia. On the release of the 14th edition, Time magazine dubbed the Britannica the "Patriarch of the Library". In a related advertisement, naturalist William Beebe was quoted as saying that the Britannica was "beyond comparison because there is no competitor." References to the Britannica can be found throughout English literature, most notably in one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Red-Headed League". The tale was highlighted by the Lord Mayor of London, Gilbert Inglefield, at the bicentennial of the Britannica.
Critical and popular assessments
WorldHeritage is a fun site to use and has a lot of interesting entries on there, but their approach wouldn't work for Encyclopædia Britannica. My job is to create more awareness of our very different approaches to publishing in the public mind. They're a chisel, we're a drill, and you need to have the correct tool for the job.Interviewed in February 2009, the managing director of Britannica UK said:
In the end, the journal found just eight serious errors, such as general misunderstandings of vital concepts: four from each site. It also discovered many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 in WorldHeritage and 123 in Britannica, an average of 3.86 mistakes per article for WorldHeritage and 2.92 for Britannica. In its detailed 20-page rebuttal, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. called Nature's study flawed and misleading and called for a "prompt" retraction. It noted that two of the articles in the study were taken from a Britannica yearbook and not the encyclopaedia, and another two were from Compton's Encyclopedia (called the Britannica Student Encyclopedia on the company's website). The rebuttal went on to mention that some of the articles presented to reviewers were combinations of several articles, and that other articles were merely excerpts but were penalised for factual omissions. The company also noted that several of what Nature called errors were minor spelling variations, and that others were matters of interpretation. Nature defended its story and declined to retract, stating that, as it was comparing WorldHeritage with the web version of Britannica, it used whatever relevant material was available on Britannica's website.
In 2005, the journal Nature chose articles from both websites in a wide range of topics and sent them to what it called "relevant" field experts for peer review. The experts then compared the competing articles—one from each site on a given topic—side by side, but were not told which article came from which site. Nature got back 42 usable reviews.
Online alternatives to the Britannica include WorldHeritage, a freely available Web-based free-content encyclopaedia. A key difference between the two encyclopaedias lies in article authorship. The 699 Macropædia articles are generally written by identified contributors, and the roughly 65,000 Micropædia articles are the work of the editorial staff and identified outside consultants. Thus, a Britannica article either has known authorship or a set of possible authors (the editorial staff). With the exception of the editorial staff, most of the Britannica's contributors are experts in their field—some are Nobel laureates. By contrast, the articles of WorldHeritage are written by people with varying levels of expertise: most do not claim any particular expertise, and of those who do, many are anonymous and have no verifiable credentials. Another difference is the pace of article change: the Britannica was published in print every few years, while many of WorldHeritage's articles are frequently updated. Robert McHenry, paid by the Encyclopaedia, stated that WorldHeritage cannot hope to rival the Britannica in accuracy.
The most notable competitor of the Britannica among CD/DVD-ROM digital encyclopaedias was Encarta, now discontinued, a modern, multimedia encyclopaedia that incorporated three print encyclopaedias: Funk & Wagnalls, Collier's and the New Merit Scholar's Encyclopedia. Encarta was the top-selling multimedia encyclopaedia, based on total US retail sales from January 2000 to February 2006. Both occupied the same price range, with the 2007 Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate CD or DVD costing US$50 and the Microsoft Encarta Premium 2007 DVD costing US$45. The Britannica contains 100,000 articles and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus (US only), and offers Primary and Secondary School editions. Encarta contained 66,000 articles, a user-friendly Visual Browser, interactive maps, math, language and homework tools, a US and UK dictionary, and a youth edition. Like Encarta, the Britannica has been criticised for being biased towards United States audiences; the United Kingdom-related articles are updated less often, maps of the United States are more detailed than those of other countries, and it lacks a UK dictionary. Like the Britannica, Encarta was available online by subscription, although some content could be accessed for free.
Digital encyclopaedias on optical media
Collier's has not been in print since 1998; the Encyclopedia Americana was last published in 2006 and Britannica announced in 2012 that its print edition of 2010 was its last.
The Encyclopædia Britannica has been compared with other print encyclopaedias, both qualitatively and quantitatively. A well-known comparison is that of Kenneth Kister, who gave a qualitative and quantitative comparison of the Britannica with two comparable encyclopaedias, Collier's Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Americana. 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 of A–D or 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 none of the encyclopaedias had an article on sexual harassment in 1994. In the accuracy category, the Britannica received one "D" and seven "A"s, Encyclopedia Americana received eight "A"s, and Collier's received one "D" and seven "A"s; thus, Britannica received an average score of 92% for accuracy to Americana 's 95% and Collier's 92%. The 1994 Britannica was faulted for publishing an inflammatory story about Charles Drew that had long been discredited. In the timeliness category, Britannica averaged an 86% to Americana's 90% and Collier's 85%. After a more thorough qualitative comparison of all three encyclopaedias, Kister recommended Collier's Encyclopedia as the superior encyclopaedia, primarily on the strength of its writing, balanced presentation and easy navigation.
Since the early 1990s, the Britannica has faced new challenges from digital information sources. The Internet, facilitated by the development of search engines, has grown into a common source of information for many people, and provides easy access to reliable original sources and expert opinions, thanks in part to initiatives such as Google Books, MIT's release of its educational materials and the open PubMed Central library of the National Library of Medicine. In general, the Internet tends to provide more current coverage than print media, due to the ease with which material on the Internet can be updated. In rapidly changing fields such as science, technology, politics, culture and modern history, the Britannica has struggled to stay up-to-date, a problem first analysed systematically by its former editor Walter Yust. Although the Britannica is now available both in multimedia form and over the Internet, its preeminence is being challenged by other online encyclopaedias, such as WorldHeritage.
As the Britannica is a general encyclopaedia, it does not seek to compete with specialised encyclopaedias such as the Encyclopaedia of Mathematics or the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, which can devote much more space to their chosen topics. In its first years, the Britannica's main competitor was the general encyclopaedia of Ephraim Chambers and, soon thereafter, Rees's Cyclopædia and Coleridge's Encyclopædia Metropolitana. In the 20th century, successful competitors included Collier's Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Americana, and the World Book Encyclopedia. Nevertheless, from the 9th edition onwards, the Britannica was widely considered to have the greatest authority of any general English language encyclopaedia, especially because of its broad coverage and eminent authors. The print version of the Britannica was significantly more expensive than its competitors.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. now owns registered trademarks on the words Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Macropædia, Micropædia, and Propædia, as well as on its thistle logo. It has exercised its trademark rights as recently as 2005.
Under Safra's ownership, the company has experienced financial difficulties, and has responded by reducing the price of its products and implementing drastic cost cuts. According to a 2003 report in the New York Post, the Britannica management has eliminated employee 401(k) accounts and encouraged the use of free images. These changes have had negative impacts, as freelance contributors have waited up to six months for checks and the Britannica staff have gone years without pay rises.
In January 1996, the Britannica was purchased from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Cauz is the senior executive and reports directly to the Britannica's Board of Directors. Cauz has been pursuing alliances with other companies and extending the Britannica brand to new educational and reference products, continuing the strategy pioneered by former CEO Elkan Harrison Powell in the mid-1930s.
The Propædia and its Outline of Knowledge were produced by dozens of editorial advisors under the direction of Mortimer J. Adler. Roughly half of these advisors have since died, including some of the Outline's chief architects: Rene Dubos (d. 1982), Loren Eiseley (d. 1977), Harold D. Lasswell (d. 1978), Mark Van Doren (d. 1972), Peter Ritchie Calder (d. 1982) and Mortimer J. Adler (d. 2001). The Propædia also lists just under 4,000 advisors who were consulted for the unsigned Micropædia articles.
The Britannica has an Editorial Board of Advisors, which includes 12 distinguished scholars: non-fiction author Nicholas Carr, religion scholar Wendy Doniger, political economist Benjamin M. Friedman, Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb, computer scientist David Gelernter, Physics Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann, Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian, philosopher Thomas Nagel, cognitive scientist Donald Norman, musicologist Don Michael Randel, Stewart Sutherland, Baron Sutherland of Houndwood, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch.
Some of these departments were organised hierarchically. For example, the copy editors were divided into 4 copy editors, 2 senior copy editors, 4 supervisors, plus a coordinator and a director. Similarly, the Editorial department was headed by Dale Hoiberg and assisted by four others; they oversaw the work of five senior editors, nine associate editors, and one executive assistant.
- Editorial staff (19 editors and 1 executive assistant)
- Art and Cartography (9 employees)
- Compositional Technology and Design (4 employees)
- Copy Department (12 employees)
- Editorial and Publishing Technologies (5 employees)
- Information Management (9 employees)
- Media Asset Management and Production Control (4 employees)
- Reference Librarians (3 employees)
- World Data (5 employees)
- Manufacturing (1 employee)
 included five Senior Editors and nine Associate Editors, supervised by Britannica The 2007 editorial staff of the
As of 2007 in the fifteen edition of Britannica, Dale Hoiberg, a sinologist, was listed as Britannica's Senior Vice President and editor-in-chief. Among his predecessors as editors-in-chief were Hugh Chisholm (1902–1924), James Louis Garvin (1926–1932), Franklin Henry Hooper (1932–1938), Walter Yust (1938–1960), Harry Ashmore (1960–1963), Warren E. Preece (1964–1968, 1969–1975), Sir William Haley (1968–1969), Philip W. Goetz (1979–1991), and Robert McHenry (1992–1997). As of 2007, Anita Wolff and Theodore Pappas were listed as the Deputy Editor and Executive Editor, respectively. Prior Executive Editors include John V. Dodge (1950–1964) and Philip W. Goetz.
With a temerity almost appalling, [the Britannica contributor, Mr. Philips] ranges over nearly the whole field of European history, political, social, ecclesiastical... The grievance is that [this work] lacks authority. This, too—this reliance on editorial energy instead of on ripe special learning—may, alas, be also counted an "Americanizing": for certainly nothing has so cheapened the scholarship of our American encyclopaedias.—Prof. George L. Burr, in the American Historical Review (1911)
While Britannica's authors have included writers such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Leon Trotsky, as well as notable independent encyclopaedists such as Isaac Asimov, some have been criticised for lack of expertise:
The 2007 print version of the Britannica has 4,411 contributors, many eminent in their fields, such as Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman, astronomer Carl Sagan, and surgeon Michael DeBakey. Roughly a quarter of the contributors are deceased, some as long ago as 1947 (Alfred North Whitehead), while another quarter are retired or emeritus. Most (approximately 98%) contribute to only a single article; however, 64 contributed to three articles, 23 contributed to four articles, 10 contributed to five articles, and 8 contributed to more than five articles. An exceptionally prolific contributor is Christine Sutton of the University of Oxford, who contributed 24 articles on particle physics.
Personnel and management
In March 2014 an improved version of Britannica Library Edition, the online subscription version used by libraries worldwide, was launched. This was intended to make reading articles, browsing, and accessing all media available (e.g. images, video, etc.) more user friendly.
In March 2012 it was announced that the company would cease printing the encyclopaedia set, and that the Britannica would only be available online for a subscription fee, or free with the addition of pop-ups and advertising.
On 14 September 2010, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced a partnership with mobile phone development company Concentric Sky to launch a series of iPhone products aimed at the K-12 market. On 20 July 2011, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced that Concentric Sky had ported the Britannica Kids product line to Intel's Intel Atom-based Netbooks.
 material would carry a "Britannica Checked" stamp, to distinguish it from the user-generated content.Britannica Official  Articles written by users, if vetted and approved, will also only be available in a special section of the website, separate from the professional articles. scholars.Britannica as will content submitted by non- content,Britannica Contributions from non-academic users will sit in a separate section from the expert-generated  All edits submitted will be reviewed and checked and will have to be approved by the encyclopaedia's professional staff. Individuals wishing to edit the Britannica website will have to register under their real name and address prior to editing or submitting their content.