A dividend is a distribution of a portion of a company's earnings paid to its shareholders. Dividends can be issued as cash payments, as shares of stock, or other property.

There are several accessible sources to help investors identify dividend-paying stocks. Here are a number of resources to check out:

1. Financial News Sites and Apps

You can find many options available on the internet from financial news sites and aggregators that provide top-notch data, tools and analysis for investors. Whether getting a quote on an individual stock to find specific information about a company's current dividend yield, or checking out a screener to find out the highest-paying dividends in an industry, you can quickly use these (often) free resources to track down the information you're looking for.

For example, sites and apps like Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Morningstar, The Wall Street Journal, and Investopedia are all great resources available for researching dividend data.

2. Brokerage Accounts

Many individual stock brokerage accounts provide online research and pricing information to their customers. Similar to the news sites, investors can easily find information on dividend amounts and payout dates, as well as other types of peer comparisons and screeners. An additional benefit for users of online accounts provided by a broker is the ability to tie into any current (or past) holdings from a portfolio that are dividend-payers and generate additional types of personalized reports and analysis.

3. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Data

All publicly-traded companies are required by law to report on Form 1099 all dividends they have paid to investors during the previous tax year on a quarterly and annual basis. As a result, you can research these filings on SEC.gov using their EDGAR system. You can also quickly research a company’s financial information and operations by reviewing reports filed on Forms 10-K and 10-Q.

4. Specialty Providers and Paid Services

There are a number of dividend-focused specialty resources available online for getting comprehensive information on dividends.

A few examples are:

  • Harry Domash's Dividend Detective, an online site that has both free and paid subscription content and maintains a list of their "800 best dividend-paying stocks."
  • Dividend.com offers a wide range of tools and resources around dividend stocks. They provide a calendar of upcoming ex-dividend dates, as well as screeners, tools and rankings.
  • The Value Line Investment Survey provides a number of services to help investors select dividend stocks.

5. The Stock Exchanges

Tools and resources are also provided from the stock exchanges themselves to keep investors up-to-date with dividend data for the companies they list. The NASDAQ provides a dividend calendar, history tool and screeners on the highest-yielding stocks. Meanwhile, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) provides a historical database to look up ex-date dividends by a selected date range. (To learn more about this topic, see "The Power of Dividend Growth.")