Banner "Internet Course Guide," by Richard E. Gordon

Lesson 6: Using Search Sites

If you have a computer with access to the Internet, it's like having in your own home the largest library in the world, and one opened to you twenty-four hours a day. The big challenge though is learning how to find the information you want in this home library.

Typing in search subject.

Search engines are special programs on the Internet that serve like librarians ready to get whatever book or magazine you wish, as long as you write out the correct information to be handed in on request-forms. The challenge is knowing how to complete the request-forms, which in a search engine site often look like this:

Search engine slot.

When it comes time for you to do your search, you have to type into the search box the subject you want information on. Say, for example, you want to find out about sharks. Simply, type in the word sharks and click on the Search button or hit your Enter key for a list of possible sources appearing as hyperlinks.

Search slot for sharks.

Search phrases.

Now if you are looking only for a particular type of sharks, say tiger sharks, for example, you would type in both words putting then in quotation marks. Quotation marks treat the enclosed words as a phrase -- so what you are really doing here is looking for a phrase rather than a single word.

Search slot with "tiger sharks.

The quotation marks tell the search engine to look for all sites having the words tiger and sharks together.

Combining two subjects.

If you want to find Web sites that mention two different words, but the two words do not have to be right next to one another, you use the AND search modifier. Note the capitalization so that the engine does not bring up sites just mentioning the word and.

Two subjects with one a phrase.

And here is how you can combine a search for sites dealing with two subjects, but one of them is a phrase.

Excluding a subject.

Sometimes you are looking for a subject but you want to exclude one aspect of that subject. Say, for example, you want information on private schools only, excluding public schools. Your search entry might be schools NOT public. Here is how you might do a search on skiing while trying to exclude all those sites that mention water skiing.

Search slot showing skiing with water skiing excluded.

Whatever terms you use in your search, you can be sure that you will end up with lots of examples that have no interest to you and often seem totally irrelevant. Searching on the Internet is like throwing in a big net, looking for a specific fish when you figure you are in that fish's territory. Chances are, you'll often pull up many fish that you don't want.

Use search site help.

Search engines vary in how they want you to type in search terms. But in general, this information works with just about all search engines. For specifics applying to individual search engines, check out the Help that is usually provided on search engines sites. Sometimes Help is provided under the term Advanced Search. So look for both Help and Advanced Search. Frequently, the Advanced Search will give you choices to make your search accurate. See Yahoo, for example, at


Here you will find additional information related to this lesson at these Internet sites. Other sources for all the lessons are found in the Links page.

Search Tools

  1. According to Time Magazine, August 12, 2002, page 66, Alltheweb indexes more pages than any other site and "may have the smartest approach to turning up relevant results."
  2. . Here you type out a question:|pg:1. See Help at You might try asking: How do you use search engines?
  3. Dogpile. My favorite. Sends out several search engines at a time.
  4. Findspot. Makes it easy for you to use several different search engines by giving you the search criteria for each. Help is available on this site at
  5. Go. This search engine actually uses another search engine called Yahoo.
  6. Google See advanced search help at
  7. Google tutorial. For beginners and advanced searchers, learn all about how to do searches using Google -- the number one search engine. This is not a website created by Google, but a Google user who created her own site to help others use Google.
  8. Internet public library gives you easy access to several search engines:
  9. Librarian Index to the Internet:
  10. Lycos See advanced search help at
  11. Mapsonus. Great site if you are searching for driving directions.
  12. Searchenginewatch. Everything you wanted to know about search engines including Web Searching Tips, Search Engine Listings, Reviews and Tests of various search engines.
  13. St. Petersburg Times (Florida). Search for articles in past issues. Note especially help given in using wildcards (asterisks), AND, and phrases.
  14. Yahoo. Narrows search by breaking down topic into subcategories. See help at and advanced search at
  15. The Deep Web is beyond the sites that popular search engines like Yahoo and Google can reach. To access the Deep Web, try specialized search tools.

General Search engine help

  1. Links to all kinds of search engines.
  2. Boolean operators: How to use them in doing searches. From the University at Albany Libraries.
  3. Gordon, Richard. Links to many search engines and help on their use.
  4. Grossan, Bruce. Article offering search tips.
  5. Koch, Susanna and Per. A short and easy search engine tutorial.
  6. Search Engine Watch.
  7. St. Petersburg College in Florida suggests several different kinds of search engines.

Question Bank

Answer the Question Bank questions to make sure you have learned this lesson. Remember that your final exam will be made up of questions selected from this Question Bank.


Be sure to do the Exercises for each lesson.
The next lesson is Lesson 7A.

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Last updated: November 10, 2006