The Internet is an international network of computer networks. It was created in the 1960s by the U.S. Department of Defense as a way of sharing vital information between computers. In the 1980s, it expanded to include universities and research facilities in the U.S. As other countries developed computer networks, they also became part of the Internet.

Nobody is in charge of the Internet, and anybody can put up a web page. With all the millions of web pages available through the Internet, how can you find the information you need? The answer is search engines.

Search engines are huge databases of web pages that have been compiled for your use. There are many different search engines and they all work in slightly different ways. No single search engine compiles the entire World Wide Web, so it's a good idea to be familiar with more than one.

All search engines have unique ways of compiling their databases, but they generally have these three things in common:

Search box for typing in your keywords
Advanced searching options, allowing you to construct complex searches
Online help to answer questions about using that search engine


Three popular search engines are:


They each work a little differently, and may retrieve very different results. It takes practice to know which search engine to use, and to know how to use it effectively.

Because the Internet is so vast - and expanding daily - you need to be careful when you construct searches using Internet search engines. You can easily pull up thousands of Web sites, many of which are irrelevant to your research topic. Many of the ideas presented in this tutorial for searching Sadie and other online databases also apply to searching the Internet.


There is no controlled vocabulary for Web sites, so you may need to think of alternate words or phrases for your topic.

Truncation (or wildcard) symbols are used in most search engines, but each search engine uses a different symbol. Check the online help screens to find out how they work.

Effective use of Boolean operators is important when searching the Internet. Check the online help screens for assistance.


Bare Bones 101 is a good, basic tutorial for more information about using search engines.

Internet Navigator (Utah's First On-Line Multi-Institutional Internet Course) is a helpful Internet tutorial.

You are at the end of Module 5!


Library Home Page | Passport Home Page
Eastern Mennonite University, Hartzler Library, 2000