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Finding Information on the Web

At first, you might feel as if the Internet has so much information, and in such a disorganized mess, that it is impossible to find what you're looking for. Well, there are several tools available on the Internet that can help you find what you want: Web search engines and Web guides.

Web Search Engines

Search engines are online utilities that quickly search thousands of Web documents for an entered word or phrase. Although there are some subscription-based search engines, most operate off of profits from advertisements. It should be noted that no single search engine has the contents to every Web page on the Internet. Instead, each search engine has the contents to only the Web pages that are manually entered into that search engine by the Web page operators. This is why you might get different results from different search engines.

As previously mentioned, search engines work by giving you lists of Web pages that contain a word or phrase that you enter. The phrase is entered simply as a group of words, such as, "rain snow sleet." You do not need to enter words like, "and," or, "the." The idea is that you can enter a word or phrase that is related to the topic you are interested in, and all of the Web pages related to that topic will be listed. While this might seem simple enough, there are a few things you should keep in mind when entering a search word or phrase.

First, make sure your search phrase is specific enough. For example, if you are looking for a recipe for apple cider, you wouldn't want to enter only the word, "apple." Instead, you should enter something like, "apple cider ingredients." The word, "ingredients" was added because recipes usually contain this word. That brings us to the second tip: always "anticipate" words that might be included in the desired information. For example, if you were looking for Ken Griffey, Jr.'s, batting average for his 1995 season, you can assume that words like, "Mariners (the team he plays on, for those of you who aren't baseball fans)," "record," and, "RBI," would probably be included in a Web page that talks about Griffey's batting average, in addition to the obvious words like, "Griffey," and, "batting average."

Now, you must also remember not to get too specific. For example, if you are looking for a list of poisonous snakes found in South Africa, you would probably not want to include words like, "Cape Town," or, "Kalahari." (which is South Africa's capitol and a desert in the region, respectively) Third, you should remember to use capitalization effectively.

Most search engines will search for all instances of the entered word (capitalized or not) if you enter the word in lower-case letters. If you capitalize a word, however, the search engine will usually only look for the capitalized word, which might not be what you wanted. Thus, it is usually a good idea to go ahead and capitalize proper nouns or initials, but it would not be a good idea to capitalize a common word. Finally, if two or more words are usually found together, you might want to enter them in quotations (like "Bill Clinton"). Most search engines will search only for the words that are togther in the order that you enter them.

Some Search Engines to Try...

Listed below are some search engines available on the Web. This is in no way intended to be a comprehensive list. Rather, it is to provide you with the names and URL's (addresses) of a few reputable search engines. Feel free to try them out...

OpenText Index

Web Guides

Another utility available on the Internet is the Web guide. Web guides are comprehensive guides to information available on the Web, sorted by topic. The Web pages they contain are entered into their database by the individual Web page owners. Some contain a vast variety of topics, while others include topics realted to a specific field, such as eductaion or music, for example. You can usually browse or search the guides. Following are a few Web guides available:

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