a book of instruction or guidance, as for an occupation; manual: a handbook of radio.
a guidebook for travelers: a handbook of Italy.
a reference book in a particular field: a medical handbook.
a scholarly book on a specific subject, often consisting of separate essays or articles: a handbook of lectures on criticism.

translation of German Handbuch

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World English Dictionary
handbook (ˈhændˌbʊk)
a reference book listing brief facts on a subject or place or directions for maintenance or repair, as of a car: a tourists' handbook

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. handboc, translating L. manualis. Displaced in M.E. by manual (from O.Fr.), and later in part by Gk. enchiridion. Reintroduced 1814, but execrated through much of 19c. as "that very ugly and very unnecessary word." [Trench]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
To provide a clearer idea of their expectations, they are publishing a new
  handbook for auditors.
Here was his company, violating every conceivable rule in the big-brand
  handbook of crisis management.
If you can, find out whether the faculty handbook has a max, so you know what
  to ask for.
Always read the faculty handbook, especially where they talk about tenure.
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