LSU Libraries
Call Numbers and Interpretation

This tutorial is intended to give you a broad overview of the Internet and how it works.

The Internet and the World Wide Web Defined

It is not uncommon when describing the Internet and the World Wide Web to think of them as being one in the same. In reality they are two different entities. The Internet is a vast network of networks connected by telephone lines, cables and communication satellites while the World Wide Web represents the resources available on the Internet. The World Wide Web could not exist without the Internet.

How the Internet Began

The Internet began in the 1960s when researchers from the United States Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency began linking their computer to each other through telephone hook-ups. ARPA was interested in designing a system that would support military research in the event of a nuclear war as well as providing a measure of security against partial cable outages.

The above information was taken from The Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog by Ed Krol, Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 1992.

How the Web Works

The World Wide Web uses hypertext to link to documents and files located on servers anywhere on the Internet. A hypertext document contains words, phrases, or images that are highlighted and point to a different document where more information can be found. The user can click the highlighted word, phrase, or picture to display the document. The paws that you see below are hypertext, clicking on them either takes you forward or backward in this tutorial.

Navigating the World Wide Web

The way to navigate the World Wide Web is with a browser. A browser is the software that allows you to locate, display and use World Wide Web documents. It retrieves information from remote computers and displays it on your screen. The two most common browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. There are, of course, other browser types such as America Online's browser, Mozilla and Opera.

Search Engine Defined

A search engine is a utility that searches the entire Internet, a site or a database for terms that you select. Generically the term describes a general class of programs that employs a search mechanism but in this tutorial it will be used to describe search engines like Alta Vista, Excite and Google, which enable users to search for documents on the World Wide Web.

Types of Search Engines

There are a variety of search engines available and you may already be aware of some of the more popular ones. While you do not need to learn how to use every search engine, it is useful to understand the differences among them.

There are essentially four types of search engines:

Search Strategies

Before you begin searching on the World Wide Web it is important that you develop a search strategy.
Listed below are the steps to developing an effective search strategy.
Sample question: How does global warming affect the climate?

Step One   Identify key concepts within the statement. In this case the key concepts are global warming and climate.

Step Two   Think of synonyms or variations of those key concepts. In the case of global warming, a synonym is greenhouse effect. For the concept of climate, a synonym is weather.

Sample search statement: (global warming or greenhouse effect) and (climate or weather)

Keyword Search Operators are specific words or symbols used for composing a keyword query.


Use AND, OR and NOT to connect words or phrases in the search statement.

AND requires that both terms be present somewhere in the information being sought.
OR requires that at least one of the terms be present somewhere in the information being sought.
NOT excludes any information sought containing the term.
Sample query: New Orleans AND Saints

When using boolean operators, don't forget to capitalize them as shown above.

PLUS/MINUS Use {+}before a term to retrieve only the information containing that term. Compare it to using the Boolean operator AND. Use {-}before a term to exclude that term from the search. Compare it to using the Boolean operator NOT.
Sample query: New Orleans+Saints

Do not leave a space between the operator and the term that follows.


Words enclosed in double quotes " " indicates an exact phrase and is most often treated as a single term.
Sample query: "New Orleans Saints"

Note: The way to express the association between words will differ with each search engine. Always consult the help menu for the specifics of each search engine.

Evaluating Web Information

Now that you have found the information that you need on the World Wide Web you will need to evaluate; just as you should evaluate any information that you find. Keep in mind that the Web is almost totally without standards; anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can publish a Web page.

Consider the following criteria when evaluating the information that you have found.

Note: If you're using the Web to find information for a paper or other research project it is important that you cite any information you use from a Web page, consult the appropriate style manual such as the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers for examples of how to cite Web pages. h3>Conclusion
[an error occurred while processing this directive]