Reading the few pages of a preface, introduction, or forward in most biographical reference books will help you understand the scope and purpose of the work. By reading these few pages at the beginning of a book, one can usually figure out if it will have a biography on someone you want. In addition, there may be instructions or suggestions on how to use the book or entries effectively.
Some databases list names in direct or reading order with the given name first, like:
other databases and all library catalogs arrange names in inverse or catalog order with surname first, like: