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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library

How Do I?: Find and Evaluate Websites

Finding Authoritative Websites

Search Engines

What are they? Computer programs that search documents, especially on the World Wide Web, for a specified word or words and provide a list of documents in which they are found. Google, Bing and Yahoo! Search and are among the most popular.

Search Tip

Combine your search term(s) with the phrase site:gov OR site:edu which will limit your results to the domain .gov for U.S. government agencies and the domain .edu for educational institutions in the U.S, the two most reliable domains.

Subject Directories

What are they? Websites selected and reviewed by scholars, librarians, and teachers, and organized by subjects.

  • SweetSearch, a search engine for students from, it searches only the 35,000 Web sites evaluated and approved by Dulcinea's staff of research experts, librarians and teachers.
  • Britannica Academic On your topic article page, find Web's Best Sites in the left sidebar to display sites selected by Britannica editors for quality and age-appropriateness

More places to find reliable websites

  • The Invisible Web: What It Is, How You Can Find It Typical search engines actually access only a tiny fraction of the internet, so where's the rest? The vast majority of the internet lies in the invisible web.
  • Google Scholar Search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.

Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Websites

Who published it?

What type of organization is behind it? Look at the domain:

  • .com = represents a commercial business
  • .edu = represents an educational institution in the U.S.
  • .gov = represents a U.S. government entity
  • .net = originally represented network technologies companies, but now is often treated as an alternative to .com
  • .org = represents an organization, usually a nonprofit-making organization
  • Is it a personal page? Look for ~ or % after the domain.
Who is the author?
  • Look for "About Us", "Sponsors", "Philosophy", "Biography", "Who am I"
  • What are their credentials? Why believe them?
  • What values do they stand for?
  • Is there evidence of bias?
  • Google the author's/organization's name
  • If none of the above, truncate back the URL one / at a time.
How current is the page?
  • Is currency important for your topic?
  • When was the last update?
Does the content appear good quality?
  • Are sources documented in footnotes, or links outside that work?
  • Links to more information? Any dead links?
  • Links to other points of view?
  • Evidence of hype/trash/ranting? For ex: controversial topics
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors?
What is the purpose of the page? Why was it put on the web?
  • Inform with facts/data? Explain?
  • Persuade/sell/entice?
  • Deceive/rant/satire?
  • Is it biased? Check Media Bias Fact Check.
    (this will work for newspapers, magazines and online news sources)