Student Guide Home

Anatomy of a page

Evaluating for relevance
Authority of a Web page
Evaluating for accuracy

Page types:

Informational pages
News sources
Advocacy web pages
Personal home pages

Web search strategies:

Getting started
Web directories
Search engines 1
Search engines 2
Citing online sources


Search Engines 2

Suggested general search engines

Follow links for more information:

Specialized search engines

Follow links to go directly to these sites:

Here is some more information about the recommended general-purpose search engines:

Phrase searchingyes: "" or - (hyphen)
Includes/Excludesyes: + only
Boolean logicno
Meta-search no
Web directoryyes

Features: Infoseek is smart, easy to use, and forgiving; thus it is a good search engine for newbies, and a good place to start any search. Infoseek can search for Web pages, USENET postings, news stories, phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses. Infoseek also has a Web directory of rated sites. Here are some of Infoseek's unique features and quirks:

  • Names and Titles: If you type "Max Roach" into the search box, Infoseek will look for pages that contain the name Max Roach. If you type, "max roach" it will look for pages containing "max" or "Max," and/or "roach" or "Roach" somewhere on the page. Infoseek also recognizes other kinds of names: "Saint Louis University," "Led Zeppelin," etc. Separate names in a sequence with commas:
    Max Roach, Lester Young

  • Phrase Searching: Phrases can be expressed with quotation marks or hyphens:

    "runs batted in" "stolen bases"


    runs-batted-in stolen-bases

  • Sub-searching: Sub-searching gives users the ability to search for keywords, then search among the results to narrow the list further. On the results page from any search, Infoseek provides a button to perform sub-searches. Queries can be written to include sub-searches with the pipe (|) character to save a step:

    Charlie Parker | discography

Read Infoseek's help file for more information.

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Phrase searchingyes: ""
Includes/Excludesyes: +/-
Boolean logicyes: AND OR NOT NEAR
Meta-search yes
Web directoryno


Multi-search: Dogpile is a multi-search engine. Instead of searching its own database, Dogpile will search twenty-five different commercial search databases, including Yahoo!, Lycos, HotBot, Excite, and others, and present the results on the same results page. These features can save you an enormous amount of time for simple searches.

Meta-search: Dogpile also has Metafind, a program that will search several databases at once and create a single list of all of the results. See the Metafind Help page for more details.

Operators: You can use any of the possible operators with a query. Arfie, the "fetch" software, will translate them into the appropriate format for each of the databases it checks.

Why search anywhere else? The first reason is that Dogpile only gives the top 10 results from each search engine. Metafind also has limits on the number of hits it will present. Secondly, all of the search engines have their own unique features to help you find information. In some cases, it is easier to go directly to the source to customize a search than to send the query through Dogpile. Finally, Dogpile is designed for users who are searching for as much information about a topic as possible. Researchers looking for a particular page, or some fairly common information, would have better luck using a single search engine.

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Phrase searchingyes: ""
Includes/Excludesyes: + or -
Boolean logicyes (Advanced Search): AND OR NOT NEAR
Meta-search no
Web directoryno

AltaVista is known for its breadth and speed. It is among those search engines that catalog whole pages, so a query may hit information in the title, description, or content of the pages.


Simple Search: Simple Search just accepts keywords, phrases (""), and includes and excludes (+/-).

Advanced Search: Selecting Advanced Search brings up a unique search form that offers the following features:

  • Pull-down menus let users specify whether they want to search for Web pages or USENET posts, and whether they want to search for pages written in a particular language.
  • The "Ranking" box allows users to conduct sub-searches. A user could enter "Charles Mingus" in the "Search" box and "discography" in the "Ranking" box to find all of the documents that contain "Charles Mingus," and display links to all of those pages that also contain the word "discography" at the top of the list of results.
  • "From:" and "To:" boxes let users search for pages created during a particular period of time.
  • The Refine button will take users to a page that will provide a list of related keywords to refine the search results further. This is an excellent feature.

Read AltaVista's help file.

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Version 1.1
1997 Craig Branham
Saint Louis University
Created: 27-Sept-97
Last Modified: 06-Oct-97

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