Welcome ~ Getting Started ~ Policies ~ Syllabus ~ Nicenet ~ Email ~

Assignments ~ Chapter Summaries ~ About Me ~ Links

Dr. Mark Jordan ~ ENGL 2311: Technical Writing

Helpful Links,

In no particular order at present.

I invite all my students to suggest additions to this page which would be helpful or interesting to the class. Particularly welcome are any personal websites created by students themselves. If a receive a handful of suggestions, I will probably add them all; if I get inundated with ideas, I'll have to pick and choose, so please don't be offended.

I will check these links periodically to make sure they are functional, but occasionally sites do cease to exist, and links to sites sometimes break down inexplicably. So please let me know if a link is dysfunctional.

  • This is a link to an online version of the Merriam-Webster collegiate dictionary, featuring a word search engine.
  • This is a link to the Columbia Guide to Online Style. This whole area of electronic documentation--particularly when it refers to Internet sites and Web pages--is a new one and you may find minor differences in how it's handled. Of the many Web sites which provide information on how to cite electronic sources, this is one of the best and seems on the way to becoming the standard source for citing online sources of quotes or information. If you use any other guides make sure you choose some variation of the MLA method of documentation.
  • This is an online version of the classic writing guide, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. The book is brief and clear. Use it when you have questions about punctuation, usage, and grammar.
  • This is the Guide to Grammar and Writing, sponsored by Capital Community-Technical College in Hartford, Connecticut. It deals some with the writing process but mostly with grammar.
    The Writing Process
  • This is Writer's Web, a stage-by-stage guide to the writing process. It is by the University of Richmond Writing Center faculty and students.
    Online News Magazines
  • This is the website for Time magazine--lots of reporting of current events, but more in-depth analysis than you will find in a newspaper.
  • This is the similar website for Newsweek magazine.
    Searching the Web

You will be required to do at least some Web surfing for this course. You can save lots of time and probably earn a better grade if you know how to search the Internet effectively.

There are hundreds of Internet "search engines." Some are specialized, some generalized. They employ different search techniques and they offer a variety of search options. By familiarizing yourself with these techniques and options you will be more successful with your Web seeking and surfing.

Be wary of using the search functions offered by your browser or Internet Service Provider, such as America Online or Prodigy. Even though your browser may use one of the major search engines, they usually cannot employ their full capabilities. You will do better if you go directly to the Web site of a search engine.

There are two basic ways to search the Web:

  • With a search engine
  • With a category directory

Search engines gather information and put it into a large database. When you use a search engine you usually type in a keyword and search this database. Some examples of search engines are Alta Vista, Lycos, InfoSeek, HotBot, and Excite. Even better are metasearch engines, which use many independent engines simultaneously. The advantages of this should be obvious. Here are two good metasearch engines:

Category directories also gather information, which they then put into categories of descending levels, like a gigantic outline. You donít use a keyword search with a category directory; you simply click through descending layers of the outline until you reach the information youíre looking for. Yahoo is the best example of a category directory.

Although many search sites on the Web now offer both of these methods, those that do probably are not doing either one well. Your searches will be more accurate if you use a search engine instead of a category directory.

Obviously, the search engines which have the largest databases will offer the most material to search. These are the best ones: Alta Vista, HotBot, Excite, Infoseek. Alta Vista references more Web pages than any other search engine. It also has some useful refinements for literary searches. For example, it will find quotes from literature; none of the other engines will do that.

Tips on using a search engine:

  • Try out 3 or 4 search engines and decide which youíre most comfortable with. For example, initiate the same search with 3 or 4 engines and see which returns the most hits.
  • Donít use a single general keyword. Entering the word "baseball" or "literature" on Alta Vista will give you millions of useless hits.
  • Study the search engineís Help section and learn how to refine your search. Here are common ways a search can be refined:
    • Use phrases or combinations of words rather than single words.
    • If you put a plus sign (top right, below the function keys, on most keyboards) in front of each word your list of hits will have only pages which contain all of the words.
    • If you put quotation marks around your search words the hit list will contain only pages which not only have all the words but the those words will be in the same order they were typed.

Web sites which deal with Web search techniques:

Welcome ~ Getting Started ~ Policies ~ Syllabus ~ Nicenet ~ Email ~

Assignments ~ Chapter Summaries ~ About Me ~ Links


work: 432.335.6549
home: 432.332.5847
fax: 432.335.6559
surface mail c/o Odessa College, 201 W. University, Odessa TX 79764