Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scholarly Communications for the Humanities

An introduction to Table of Contents updates, creating RSS feeds, and other strategies for keeping up to date on articles, book reviews, and other forms of scholarly communications in the humanities.




ABELL frequently indexes new material and regularly add thousands of citations each year, making it a valuable resource for finding up-to-date scholarship.  This guide will provide an introduction to using ABELL for your research.

ABELL can be accessed on the Literatures and Languages Library's homepage, under the Quick Links section; in Online Journals and Databases (where all of our Library's databases "live"); or you can access it by clicking here.

Getting Started

You'll begin your search by clicking "SEARCH" from the menu of choices on the left side of the screen. The ABELL Search page has several text boxes to use. These boxes can be used one at a time, or in any combination, depending on the search you'd like to conduct.

Important: when searching ABELL, be sure to navigate by using the navigation buttons at the top of your search screen:

Using internal navigation buttons like these, rather than the "Back" and "Forward" buttons in your web browser, is a good practice in any Library database.

Managing Citations

The first thing to note is that ABELL only gives you indexed citations: That means you cannot read full text articles in ABELL, only their citations. Consult this guide's ABELL Citation page to learn how to interpret ABELL's citations and start finding useful sources to aid you in your research.

Basics of Searching

The text boxes you'll see on ABELL's "Search" page are as follows:

KEYWORD(S): Use this text box to search for key terms, topics, and authors of literary works. A keyword search retrieves citations that contain the search phrase anywhere in the record.

TITLE KEYWORD(S): Use this box to search for keywords in the titles of scholarly articles and books (not the titles of literary works). This option is more specific than a keyword search, but can miss items of interest due to the varying words used in titles. This search option is most useful for searching known citations (e.g., you know the title of an article, but not the journal or author).

SUBJECT: Use this box to find works that have been classified under specific subject/genre headings. The subject terms are drawn from the headings that ABELL uses. To find ABELL's subject list, type the subject term (author name, genre, etc.) and click "select from a list" link that is to the right of the text box. ABELL will produce an alphabetical list of subject headings surrounding the term.  For example, if you typed "Eliot, George," and then clicked the Select a List link, you will see "'Eliot, George' (Mary Ann Evans)."

After you find your term, click the checkbox next to the term and then click "Select" to insert the exact heading in your search box.

AUTHOR/REVIEWER: Use this box to find works by specific scholars or critics. E.g., to retrieve articles written by Professor Newcomb, you would type "Newcomb, Lori" in the Author/Reviewer field.  Similar to the Subject box, you can click on "Select from a List" link to find the author's indexed name.

PUBLICATION DETAILS: This can be used to find works published by a particular publisher or in a particular city. For example, if you were to type in "Cambridge," you would retrieve items published in Cambridge MA, Cambridge England, and/or by Cambridge University Press.

JOURNAL: To find articles written in a particular journal, type the name of the journal. Or type the first word or two of the title, and click "select from a list" link to find the journal's exact name.

PUBLICATION YEAR: Use these boxes to type in a restricted date range for your search. If you want to search only one year, type the same year in both boxes.

SEARCH IN: Checking "Latest update only" will search only within articles added to ABELL in the most recent update of the database. This may be useful in terms of finding very recent scholarship, but will drastically limit the results of your search.

LIMIT TO: "Limit to" allows you to restrict your search to reviews, articles, or books.

Interpreting Search Results

Your list of results will show 50 citations per page in brief citation format. Each citation listing has several key parts:

  • Author and Title: The author is the first information listed in the citation, with the last name first.  Then follows the title, which is highlighted as a hyperlink. To look at the full record for an item, click on the hyperlinked title. 
  • Publication Information: This information contains the journal or book title, volume and issue numbers, page numbers, and city of publication (for books).  When you find a citation for which you need to find in the full text, this information is essential to record.
  • Discover button:  This blue-and-orange button is the first tool you use to find the full text of citations. By clicking on this button, a new window opens that searches the Library catalog, all of its databases, and electronic resources for the full text.  If it find the citation's full text, it will give you the link.  If not, then go back to the citation and write down the Publication Information, so that you can search for it in the catalog or ask a librarian for help.
  • Checkbox: If you see a citation that you want to save, click the checkbox to the left of the citation. When you check the box, the item will be automatically added to your Marked List. A Marked List is the most useful way to keep track of everything you find as you browse through ABELL--you can access it by clicking on the "MARKED LIST" link at the top of the page.

Next Steps

As you browse through your results in ABELL, make sure to click checkboxes next to the citations you want for your research. When you have finished searching ABELL and have added as many items to your marked list as you need, click the "MARKED LIST" link at the top of the page to see your full list of saved citations.

On the Marked List page, you can e-mail your marked citations, print them or download them to your citation manager (Zotero, Refworks, etc.).