Internet Search Tools

For a quick browse, try...

For a quick search, try...

For a quick metasearch, try...

 Choosing the best search tool (by Debbie Abilock)

Search Engines Search Strategies Web Cheat Sheet Mega Search Tools

Search Engines

Search engines allow you to enter keywords or strings of keywords into a search box and match words character for character. Strategy is important. Users should consider alternate keywords, use of logical operators, phrase searching and the unique syntax of each search engine. For best results check the "help" or "tips" pages. Several of the engines now have handy directories to browse.


Indexes the most document and offers new features for refining searches. Users may now choose from lists of related terms to refocus their search.


The only engine to feature "concept searching." Make use of the "more like this" feature.


Developed at Stanford, this search engine ranks results by popularity, the number and the quality of the other sites linking back to it.

A new player advertising a simple, comprehensive search.


Easy-to-use search strategies in those handy pull-down menus.


Contains an excellent directory and many extra services.


Great relevance ranking. Reviewers choose the top %5 sites.

Northern Light

A new search engine that also indexes contents of nearly 2000 publications, many of which are not accessible elsewhere on the Web. Custom search folders categorize documents.


Results offer "find similar" and "preview text" features.

Search Engines Worldwide

List search engines around the world.


One of the first on the block offers and simple, friendly interface.

Mega Search Tools


Many specialized search tools, one convenient interface.

Ask Jeeves

Jeeves, the butler, encourages natural language (real question-type), searching.

also: Ask Jeeves for Kids

Beaucoup: The Big Page

Lists well over 1000 engines, directories and indexes!


One-stop shopping with the results organized by search engine.

E-Z Find

Offers easy access to several search engines, one at a time, but no retyping.

Inference Find

Conducts parellel searches of the major search engines in under seven seconds and groups the results in categories.


The "mother of all search engines" allows users to search titles, summaries and phrases in an easy-to-use interface. Automatically uses special syntax for incorrect queries.


Searches several search engines and organizes the results into uniform, relevance-ranked format.


Separates your searches and allows for use of different syntax with each engine.


Searches a variety of Web sources including newspapers and journals.

ProFusion http:/

Searches nine different services and offers a variety of display options.

Offers a variety of specialized searching options.

Subject Directories

Directories are organized listings of web pages arranged by subjects. Browsing through lists of sites works better than searching when you are looking for broad concepts, seeking to narrow a topic or if you do not have particularly unique keywords.

Academic Information

Directory of links aimed at upper high school and university students.

Argus Clearinghouse

Carefully evaluated lists of highly academic focus.

Best Information on the Internet

Chosen by librarians at O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University.


Internet resources arranged by Dewey Decimal numbers.

Britannica Internet Guide

A new "thinking person's" Web navigation service featuring a directory of over 125,000 sites hand-picked by Britannica's editors.

Digital Librarian

Eye On the Web

"The best of the Web at your fingertips."


An awe-inspiring list of categories and a great place to start browsing.


Links to over over 11,000 scholarly sites: natural and social sciences, visual and performing arts, and educational resources.

Internet Public Library

Traditional library guidance in a cozy virtual environment.

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

Award-winning, classified list of quality sites and resources for teachers.


Excellent, highly selective directory created for young people and their teachers.

Librarian's Index to the Internet

Berkeley Public Library's excellent catalog of links.


Popular list of links sponsored by Reader's Digest


One of the largest directories featuring a four-star evaluation system.

Mining Company

Highly selective and up to date links

A great place to start for term paper/project ideas with links to InfoSeek and elibrary searches.


Links collected especially for secondary students.

Ultimate Hotlist

Technology and Learning's guide to "the Web's educational treasures."


The mother of all subject directories and the perfect place to begin a general topic search.


The child of the mother of all subject directories and a safe starting place for younger searcher/browsers.

Search Strategies

If you are not happy with your results, try another search engine; check your spelling; or try synonyms or related, broader or narrower terms. By all means, use some strategy. Though they have many quirks, most engines allow users the following advanced techniques.


Search Strategy Explanation Examples
Boolean operators

AND limits your search, requiring that both or all word appear

OR is used to capture synonyms or related words

NOT eliminates possibilities that you suspect will cause problems

(Some search engines use + and - for AND and NOT

Vietnam AND protest AND students

Japan AND cooking

car OR automobile

coronary OR heart

Martin Luther NOT King

China NOT dishes

Wildcards An asterisk (*) or a questionmark (?) may be used to stand for any character or string of characters.

teen* (picks up teenage, teenagers, or teens)

Herz? (for Herzegovina)

wom?n (for woman or women)

Natural language searches Some search engines allow you to type in questions as you would think or speak them. Why is the sky blue?
Phrases You often will want words to appear together in specific order. Commonly, quotation marks ("") set words off as phrases to be searched as a whole. (Some search engines use parentheses, commas, or hyphens instead of quotation marks.)

"vitamin A"

"bed and breakfast"

"George Washington Carver"

Proximity Words often are not meaningful in your search unless they appear near each other in a document. In large documents, words separated by lots of text are generally unrelated. ADJ specifies that two words appear next to each other. NEAR/25 specifies that two words appear within 25 words of each other.

global ADJ warming

Eric Clapton NEAR/10 Cream

Field searching This feature restricts searches to certain portions of Web documents. It allows you to specify that the search words appear in the title, URL, or first paragraph.

title: cancer

URL: epa

Case sensitivity Most search engines are case insensitive by default. However, there are some that recognize uppercase and lowercase variations.

Baker (retrieves name and eliminates reference to cake and bread makers)

AIDS (eliminates reference to helpers)

China (eliminates references to dishes)

From Power Tools: 100+ Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School Library Information Program by Joyce Kasman Valenza. Copyright 1998 American Library Association. Used by permission of ALA Editions. Reproduction for nonprofit educational purposes permitted.

Web Cheat Sheet : Where should I start my search?

Subject directories:

Cool School Tools


Internet Public Library

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators

Librarian's Index to the Internet (Berkeley Public Library)



Study Web

WWW Virtual Library



Better quality, evaluated sites:

Lycos Top 5% from Point


By date:



Command-free search strategies:


Recognizes capital and lower case letters:



Excite People Finder

Search by Internet domain (.edu, .gov):

Alta Vista



Expert recommended sites:

Argus Clearinghouse

Graphics, sounds and quicktime videos:


Lycos Media


Usenet news groups:


Excite Usenet Newsgroups



Hard to find term or phrase:

Alta Vista


Field searching.

Alta Vista


Open Text

Reference questions:

HotSheet: Web Quick Reference

Internet Public Library Ready Reference

Martindale's Reference Desk

My Virtual Reference Desk

Yahoo Reference


Scholes Library Electronic Reference Desk

Biography (A & E)

Notable Citizens of Planet Earth

Virtual Medical Center

Women's Health

Yahoo: Cancer

Foreign Language

AltaVista Translation Serivce

Foreign Languages for Travelers

Foreign Newspapers

Phone numbers and addresses:

AT&T Toll Free Directory

Big Yellow E-mail Search

Big Foot

Excite People Finder

Four11 Telephone Directory

Lycos People Find






Primary Source Documents

American Memory Collection (Library of Congress)

Douglass: Archives of American Public Address

EuroDocs: Western European Primary Historical Documents

Historical Text Archive

Speeches of United States' Presidents

U.S. Founding Documents

U.S. Historical Documents

From Power Tools: 100+ Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School Library Information Program by Joyce Kasman Valenza. Copyright 1998 American Library Association. Used by permission of ALA Editions. Reproduction for nonprofit educational purposes permitted.