Tag Archives: Reference

Catalogs and Directories


Catalogs and Directories


No doubt you’ve heard of the words “catalog” and “directory” by now, as you can find the words everywhere if you’re into shopping, computer science or even working at a library or any kind of store. However, some people seem to think that these two words mean the same and tend to use them interchangeably.


So what’s the difference between catalog and directory, and when should you use them?



A catalog is a systematic list of items, usually on display or for sale, that includes brief descriptions of the items in question. The items on the list are classified according to a categorical system that all depends on what the catalog is being used for and who or what maintains it.


In some fields and studies, like computing sciences, a catalog is also considered a list within a directory, though one of the most common uses of a “catalog” is in commerce.


A catalog for commerce a categorized collection of products and is used for displaying items for sale in a store, whether it’s a physical store or an online one. These catalogs contain images of the product, along with a brief description of their uses, prices, customer reviews, and sometimes even a video demonstration of the item being used.


There are also catalogs for the library, called the library catalog which is a register of all the books and other items within a library. However, the catalog for public use is called something else: The card or online catalogs. These catalogs not only have information on what books are in the library, but also who had written them, when they had been published and where to find the books.



Like a catalog, a directory is also a list of items, however most are familiar with it in book form, like telephone directories and business directories.


Business directories are usually printed lists of businesses organized by category and alphabetically, which we tend to know as yellow pages. However, there are also business directories online that serve the same purpose.


Meanwhile, telephone directories are well known are thick books that list a company’s telephone subscribers, either nationwide or in a specific geographical area, usually containing a person’s name, address and telephone number. These are usually found in telephone booths, but homeowners also have their own copies that are published and delivered free of charge. Some companies also opt to have online directories in case someone’s hard copy is destroyed or goes missing.


There are also web directories, which lists websites by category and provides direct links to them. However, they’re not like search engines, as they don’t use websites based on keywords. Most web directories are created and updated by hand, so a person has to decide for themselves if a particular site is enough to be linked to.


Nowadays, one of the most common uses for the word “directory” is a computer directory or database, which is a system structure used to organize and contain several files within a computer, sometimes with smaller directories called subdirectories. Directories in this manner can also be called “folders”, which is the term we’re more familiar with when it comes to organizing our computers.