L.F.M.S.S. Library - Internet Search Tools



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SEARCH strategies

Frequently Asked Questions about SEARCHING


AUTHORITY - How do you know a site is RELIABLE?

How do I CITE my Internet sources?


What is the INTERNET?

What is the WORLD WIDE WEB?

  • The WWW is one part of the Internet.
  • Like a spider web, the WWW is a system that links web pages together so that it is easy to navigate from one site to another.

What are Microsoft EXPLORER and NETSCAPE?

  • They are software programs which give you access to Internet searching and email.


  • A search engine is an index that allows you to do Keyword Subject Searches on the Internet.

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Before you begin your research you should CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS:

  • What are the best resource choices? Print sources or online?
  • Consider the not-for-free Internet, like Electric Library, and the encyclopedias Britannica, Comptons, and Worldbook.
  • Are there database resources available on portals, such as the LFMSS Library web site, Vancouver Public Library web site, or other education sites, with annotated links on your topic? (Portals provide links that have been evaluated for accuracy, relevance, currency, bias and readability.)


  • Check out Internet Search Engines for help choosing the appropriate search engine for the job you are doing.
  • You should never rely on one search engine. A new site that has yet to be discovered will not appear near the top of a Google list.
  • When you know how each search engine functions, you will be able to achieve better search results. Always keep your purpose in mind and read annotations carefully.
  • Use the ADVANCED SEARCH function to refine your searches and learn about how the search engine works.
  • Look at the HELP supplied by the search engine.
  • To find out more about how search engines and directories work visit FINDSPOT. This site explains the differences between search engines, metasearch tools and directories. If you choose a search tool on this site, FINDSPOT provides you with information about how the engine or directory searches.
  • Another useful tool for unraveling the mysteries of search engines is Search Engine Watch. This site reviews search engines and also provides information on how they work.


  • ASK is the grown up version of Ask Jeeves. The benefit of this search engine is that it gives you a list of relevant results as well a suggestions for refinging your search. 'Ask' also lists metasites that contain lists of links for your topic.
  • VIVISIMO clusters your search results based on key words. You will find a list of headings on the left of the results screen.


  • The Google site has many parts and a number of unique strategies worth knowing about.
  • You may choose to search in the regular Google search engine or you can search in the Google Directory which is organized by subject.
  • This site is unique in that it rates sites by how many external sites link to them. This means that popular sites will come to the top of the list. Advanced Search provides a step-by-step search process.
  • Google offers many Alternate Query Strategies which will help you to refine your searches, such as "I'm Feeling Lucky"
  • Synonyms - the ~ symbol directly before a word will search for synonyms.

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Do I have to type in the whole address?

  • You may eliminate "http://" most of the time.
  • You must type "www." if it appears in an address.
  • Search engines can now find some addresses with less information. E.g., "Yahoo" will find "www.yahoo.com".

When I do a search, why do so many of the sites seem to have disappeared?

  • The Internet is a continually evolving place. Sites move to different servers or are removed from servers.
  • The search engines continually add new sites, but are slow to remove dead links.

How are Search Results arranged?

  • Most search engines place the best matches of the INDEXED WORDS first.
  • A few indexes place the best content match first. Check the search engine you are using.

Why do I get so many hits when I do a search?

  • The search engines have millions of entries. You need to refine your search.
  • Use the techniques suggested by the search engine or go to Search Engine Help to learn how specific search engines search.
  • If you have lots of hits, read the entries carefully for clues about the sites. E.g., check the date of the site, or check the address, such as .edu, as it may point you to a type of site that may be more appropriate for your search.

Why do I get sites in my results list that have nothing to do with my topic?

  • Your search may need refining.
  • The search engines are maintained by robots that search the internet for certain words and index sites accordingly. There is no "Cybrarian" checking for correct cataloguing.
  • Some sites have embedded text that tricks the robots in order to get more exposure for their site. E.g., a site wanting to attract Canadians may have the word "Canada" embedded in it..

How do I know that a search is in progress?

  • The grey status bar at the bottom of the screen will tell you what is happening with messages such as:
    • Locating address, contacting host, connecting, transferring data, speed and length of transmission, document done.
  • In Microsoft Explorer, the Microsoft Image at the top left of the toolbar will be waving. In Netscape, comets and other planetary objects will fly through the N in the Netscape logo.
  • The stop sign will be lit.

How do I stop a search?

  • Click on the stop sign.
  • Some sites have loops where you can get stuck. "CONTROL ALT DELETE" should produce a message box. Choose "End Task", then restart Netscape.

What does "No DNS" entry mean?

  • The server where the web site is located cannot be found.
  • Check that you have entered the address correctly.
  • The server may exist, but there may be a problem with the server you are using. If at school, ask a teacher.

What does "404 File Not Found" mean?

  • The web site is not on the server you have contacted at the address you have typed in.
    • Check that you have entered the address correctly.
    • Try eliminating the file extensions, e.g., try www.tsn.ca instead of www.tsn.ca/tennis/wimbleton
    • The site may have moved or simply ceased to exist.
  • ERROR messages may differ from site to site. Some sites will give you a more elaborate explanation.

What does "Host Not Answering, host may be busy or not accepting calls, try again later" mean?

  • The server does exist, but there is a connection fault. The server may be down for maintenance or the server may simply be busy. Try again later.

Why does a site take so long to load?

  • The phone lines may be experiencing heavy traffic which slows down transmission.
  • There may be large picture files on the site you are trying to load.
  • The server where the site is loaded may have limited capacity.
  • There may have been an error in transmission. Try "RELOAD"

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COPY & PASTE is a convenient way to collect chunks of information or selected quotations; however, it does not take the place of note taking. To make the work your own and to understand the concepts YOU MUST MAKE YOUR OWN NOTES from which to develop your project.

See the Plagiarism page for more information.


  • In Netscape/or Internet Explorer, highlight the text you want to copy.
  • Select EDIT and COPY, or press 'Control C'
  • In Microsoft Word, Wordpad, notepad or any other word processing program, Select EDIT and PASTE, or press 'Control V'.


  • Select FILE
  • Select SAVE AS
  • Name file
  • Designate a drive: H: (for your account on the server), or E: (for a removable flashdrive)
  • Select a file type. (Generally, save an internet file as a TEXT file.)
  • SAVE


  • Place the cursor on the picture.
  • Click on the RIGHT mouse button.
  • Select SAVE IMAGE AS.
  • Choose a location to Save: H: (your account) or E: (removable drive)
  • Name the image. Images have .gif or .jpg extensions.
  • SAVE
  • All images must be cited, just like quotations and other information.

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