In using this dictionary, the following notes will be useful. Cross reference entries are made from alternative forms of a name. If there is no entry for a desired name, the name index should be consulted, to direct the reader to the entry or entries where that name is mentioned. There is also an index to subjects and an index of inventions and discoveries, referring the reader to entries where these matters are mentioned.
Each entry has the same structure: after the name of the individual, his or her dates and places of birth and death are given, so far as these can be ascertained. Then follows the subject's nationality and a brief statement of his or her principal achievements. The nationality is normally that of the present description of the country of origin: thus Nikola Tesla is not given as 'Austrian' or 'Yugoslavian' but as 'Serbian'. Citizens of the United States of America are given as 'American'. British subjects are generally referred to as English, Scottish or Welsh, unless it is difficult to assign one of these to an individual. For emigrants, the countries of origin and adoption are normally given, as for example 'German/American'.
Then follows a brief biography of the subject, the main part of the entry. The aim is to sketch the subject's background and to describe his or her significance in the history of technology: how he or she came to make his or her discovery or invention and what its consequences were. For scientists, the emphasis is on their technological contributions rather than their scientific discoveries. Names printed in bold type in the text indicate other entries where relevant information can be found.
At the end of the entry, we give principal honours and distinctions, bibliography, that is, the subject's principal writings and publications (in chronological order), and 'further reading', giving a select few references to literature where further information can be found (in order of importance). The entry concludes with the initials of the author, whose identity can be traced by consulting the list of contributors which precedes the editors' preface.