This Web page is an electronic companion to the book Learning to Use the World Wide Web, by Ernest C. Ackermann . It contains links to the Internet resources, sites, and services mentioned in the text.
Please send any comments, questions or suggestions to the author at .
  You may also want to visit Searching and Researching on the Internet and World Wide Web.

Finding Information on the Web- Directories and Searching
Chapter 6

After spending some time surfing the Internet or browsing the WWW, people often say that there is so much information available on the Internet that it must be really difficult to find anything. It would be difficult to do research, keep track of the latest changes in almost every field, or look up any sort of information without directories (collections of hyperlinks to WWW and other resources) or search engines (programs that search WWW sites and create a database or index of all the text, titles, hyperlinks, and URLs it finds) to find and organize the vast array of WWW pages and other sites on the Internet.


A directory on the WWW is a collection of hyperlinks arranged according to some scheme. The hyperlinks take you to WWW documents or other resources. They're usually arranged according to subject categories, similar to the way you'd find things arranged in a library, in a catalog, or in a phone company's "yellow pages."

If you're using Netscape 3, an easy way to access directories through Netscape is to click on the pull-down menu Directory or click on the Directory Buttons What's New ! , What's Cool !, or Net Search.

If you're using Netscape 4, click on Search in the navigation toolbar.

The Internet White Pages are a collection of tools for finding e-mail addresses of folks on the Internet.

  Directories of New and Interesting Web Pages What's New! and What's Cool! are both directories maintained by Netscape Communications.

Several other "what's new" lists are maintained on the WWW and many are listed in Yahoo in the section Computers and Internet:Internet:World Wide Web:Searching the Web:Indices to Web Documents:What's New

Some "what's new" sites to consider are:

Several directories are dedicated to finding and listing cool Web pages.

The first one was Glenn Davis' "Cool Site of the Day".

Netscape publishes a list What's Cool! .

Others are listed in the Yahoo directory in the section Computers and Internet:Internet:World Wide Web:Searching the Web:Indices to Web Documents under the heading Best of the Web

  Subject-Oriented Directories

Here are two places to find a list of directories:

Example 1 Finding WWW Resources Related to "Financial Services. Investing" Using Yahoo
Here are steps to follow to get to Yahoo and then to sections dealing with financial services and investing. Feel free to browse, but don't get so distracted as to not go through these steps. We're assuming you've started Netscape.
  1. Go to the Yahoo Directory.
  2. There are other ways to get to Yahoo: Click on the pull-down menu File and select Open Page and type the URL for Yahoo given above, or click on the button labeled Search in the navigation toolbar and find Yahoo!
  3. Select Business and Economy.
  4. Select Finance and Investments
  5. Select References and Guides and browse the listings.
  6. Go back to Finance and Investments and then go to Mutual Funds.
  7. When you're ready, go to your home page.
What to do now? You're choice. There's a big Web for you to explore!

End Example 1 

A list of selected directories.

Some of the directories are well suited to researching a topic. Some are very good at letting you quickly get to practical and topical information. When you find one you like, add it to your Bookmark list.
Argus/ University of Michigan Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides, bills itself as "The Premier Internet Research Library."

Excite Channels. Several listings are accompanied by a written review to give you an idea of what's at a site and whether it's what your looking for.

Example 2 Using Excite to Find Resources for Alternative Health Care
First, we'll go through the directory categories to find hyperlinks that would take us to appropriate information and then search for pertinent hyperlinks using the search tool.

1. Connect to Excite .

2. Select Health

3. Select Alternative Medicine .

4. Use the search tool with the search phrase "alternative health care" to find appropriate entries.

Now you get to peruse the listings and explore. You can use the search tools to narrow your search further.

End Example 2 

Example 3 Finding WWW Resources Related to SCUBA Diving Using WebCrawler Guide
Here are the steps we'll follow.

1. Open the location to WebCrawler Guide

2. Choose Sports & Recreation from the list of topics

3. Select Water Sports

4. Select hyperlinks dealing with scuba diving.

The bottom of the page has links to other parts of the WebCrawler Web site. Got a couple of minutes? Take a little time to browse some of the items available through WebCrawler.

End Example 3

Information Sources-The Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication . This extensive list, compiled and maintained by John December, is meant to be a list of sources of information focusing on resources on the Internet and the aspects of using the Internet for communication and information. December also maintains Internet Web Text a directory to items on the WWW.

Inter-Links was created and is maintained by Rob Kabacoff, from the Center for Psychological Studies at Nova Southeastern University, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Galaxy is a comprehensive, subject-oriented directory provided as a service to the World Wide Web.

Infoseek is a subject guide and search engine

The Internet Public Library was created to give the Internet library services including the accumulation, evaluation, selection, and classification of material. This is an example of a virtual library.

The Librarians' Index to the Internet is a directory to Web and Internet resources. Each entry is reviewed before being added to the directory. This is an example of a virtual library.

Looksmart. Provides ways to browse the directory in a manner different than other directories. Looksmart lets up to three levels of subjects to be present in the browser window.

Lycos Top 5% According to the people who maintain this site, it is the collection of the best resources on the Web.

The Magellan Internet Guide. The home page features a form to fill out and use for searching the directory using a key word or phrase. It can also be browsed by going through a list of categories.

Netguide's stated aim is to provide a comprehensive daily directory of what's available on the Web. It also includes a subject guide

Snap is a directory with extensive lists of featured reviewed sites. Lots of guides in several areas along with ways of searching the Snap directory and for Web pages that aren't lsited in Snap.

Webcrawler is a search tool that incorporates channels into its organization.

World Wide Web Virtual Library Arranged by Subject . This extensive directory is staffed entirely by volunteers and has existed almost since the beginning of the World Wide Web. Topics range from aboriginal studies to zoos.

  Searching The World Wide Web You know there's lots of information available through the World Wide Web. Hundreds of new resources are added each day. When you want to research a topic or find some fact, you need to do it efficiently and quickly. There are a number of search tools or programs, called search engines, designed to search for information that's available throughout the WWW. You type in a key word or phrase to these tools, and they return a collection of hyperlinks to Internet or WWW resources that contain the key word(s). The search engines are relatively easy to use and they give quick results. Directories can be used to find information, but they are most useful when you know what you're looking for and what category or heading it's under.

Take a look at some of these resources for help with searching.

  Selected Search Tools

Types of searches: Either simple search -- give a word or phrase and AltaVista returns a list of ranked hyperlinks, or advanced search which allows Boolean (AND, OR, NOT, NEAR) expressions.

Sources to search: Select one of Web pages (full text) or Usenet articles.
AltaVista searches its extensive data base quickly and generally gives good results.

Types of searches: Either all words (concept) or any word (keyword) in a phrase.
Sources to search: Select one of Web pages (full text), Usenet articles, or Classified ads from Usenet articles.

Types of Searches: All words or any word in a phrase. Boolean phrases allowed.
Sources to Search: Select one or more from Web pages (full text, titles, hyperlinks), Gopher sources, or Telnet directory. 

Example 4 Searching for "Personal Finance or Investing" with Galaxy
1. Go to the home page For Search The Galaxy .

2. Using the search phrase "personal finance," set options for a search of all terms, short output, and all text of Web pages.

3. Specifically include investing in the phrase by using "personal and finance or investing.
Narrow the search to exclude pages that deal with stock by using the Boolean phrase "personal and finance or investing not stock."

End Example 4 

Types of Searches: All words or any word in a phrase. Boolean phrases allowed-also can require exact match, proper names, words appearing in specified order, and words appearing near each other. For details read Search Tips .

Types of Searches: All words (AND), any word (OR), or a number of words (2,3,..,7) in a phrase. Allows for different degrees of matching from "loose" to "strict." For details read Lycos Help .
Sources to Search: Database of millions of Web pages

Searches titles, headings, hyperlinks, and keywords. 

Example 5 Searching the WWW for Resources on Health Care

1. Go to the home page for Lycos .

2. Click on Lycos Pro .

3. Set options to search for information related to alternative health care.

  • Type alternative health care in the box to the right of Query .
  • Select Search Options to "match all words (AND)" and choose a good match .
  • Set Display Options for 10 results per page and standard results.
  • Click the button Search.
To add the word complimentary to the search phrase
  • Click on Back in the navigational tool bar.
  • Click on the entry in the Query box, press End on the keyboard, and type "complimentary."
  • Click on the entry in Search Options to select match 3 terms.
  • Click on Search.
4. Modify the search to also include the word cost.
  • Click on the icon Back.
  • Click on the entry in the Query box modify the search phrase so it reads "alternative health care cost."
  • Click on the entry in Search Options to select match 3 terms.
  • Click on the entry in Display Options to display "summary results."
  • Click on Search.
The rest is up to you to determine which, if any of these resources is appropriate for your task. Happy surfing and researching!

End Example 5

Northern Light
Types of Searches: Boolean expressions, wild card for endings or portions of a word. Results are groups by category. Some resutls avaialbel for a fee.

Types of Searches: All words or any word in a phrase. You can limit the number of results from the search form. Help with searching is available through the hyperlink Help from the home page.
Sources to Search: Database includes WWW pages.
General Search Tools One way to keep up with what's going on with search tools on the WWW is to look at some of the Web pages dedicated to listing and working with several search engines.
  • All-in-one Search Page   This service lists several different categories of resources for searching including Word Wide Web, General Internet, People, Technical Reports, and several others. After selecting a category, you submit your request to any of the listed search tools. The search form is a simple frame allowing for a phrase for each tool, so there's an easy-to-use interface. This was developed and is supported by William D. Cross.
  • Internet Sleuth  This lists several general purpose search engines, and also gives a directory to search tools for specific categories. Selecting Employment, for example, brings up a page with listings of several job banks available on the WWW and also gives search forms so they can be searched.
  • Savvy Search  This takes your search phrase and submits it to several WWW search engines. This gives a simple and quick interface to several search tools concurrently. Savvy Search was developed by Daniel Dreilinger at Colorado State University.
  • This service is provided by c|net and offers through combinations of sites and databases 250 different search possibilities.

You may also want to visit Searching and Researching on the Internet and World Wide Web.

Changes/corrections to the most recent version of the book.
Some other places you may want to visit
Internet Today! Email, Searching & the Web Learning to Use the Internet Learning to Use the World Wide Web Searching and Researching on the World Wide Web

This is a Production. ©1997, 1998, 1999 Ernest Ackermann
Please send comments/questions to

FROM the fortune list ...

The web of our life is of mingled yarn, good and ill together. - Shakespeare