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Information Literacy Modules
  • What is a Web page?

    A Web page is an online source of any length or language. Using a Web browser, you can view a Web page:

    • On an open or closed network
    • As a stand-alone page or as part of a collection of Web pages

  • How do I know it's a Web page?

    A Web page appears in many formats:

    • PowerPoint slides (.ppt)
    • Adobe flash file (.swf)
    • Adobe document (.PDF)
    • Hypertext markup (.htm, .html)
    • Prezi , Slideshare, etc.
    • Google Doc or Word (.doc)

  • What is a Web site?

    All the Web pages within one domain are called a Web site.

    Tip: The Web site's name is usually on the upper left. (To verify, cut the URL back to the homepage.)

  • What is the difference between a Web Project and a Web site?

    A Web Project is a section of a Web site with:

    • A topical focus
    • A section title

    A scholarly Web Project is located on an academic domain with:

    • A section title (e.g., The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, The Perseus Project, The King Papers Project)
    • An academic focus
    • Primary sources
    • Editor(s) who curate and organize pages
    • Scholarly essays

  • Who is the author of a Web page?

    Look for a named author:

    • Near the title (top) or copyright date (bottom)
    • In an "About," "Contact" or "Profile" page

    Tip: Do not use a generalized name like "Staff Authors." Organizations may be listed as appropriate.

  • How do I evaluate a contributor's authority

    A contributor's expertise and credentials should relate to your subject. A credible Web page author might:

    • Hold a degree in this subject
    • Study or do research on this topic
    • Work in a related field
    • Write about this topic regularly
    • Have first-hand knowledge
    • Have participated in, or observed, events and people

    Tip: To learn more, search the author's name in quotes.

    Every author has opinions and a worldview that shape his or her treatment of a subject. As you read the Web page, ask yourself how the author's views and affiliations might affect the presentation or omission of information.

  • Where do I find the title of a Web page?

    Look for the title at the top of a Web page in a larger font.

    Tip: Check the browser's bar or tab for clues if you're not sure.

  • How recent is this information?

    The publication date is when that Web page was actually created.

    In fields like health, science and politics, where currency is important, look for an update date:

    • This page was last modified on [date]
    • Date reviewed [date]
    • Content last updated [date]

    Test currency by checking the dates of sources referenced by the author.

    Tip: When no publication date is given, only MLA permits you to cite the copyright date (the latest date next to the copyright sign at the bottom of a page).

  • Where do I find the publisher or sponsor?

    Any company, institution or group can publish or sponsor a Web site or Web project. Look for the name:

    • Next to the copyright sign
    • On the home page
    • On an "About," "Privacy," "Copyright" or "Terms of Use" page

    Tip: Use Whois to find the "Registrant"

  • How do I evaluate the publisher?

    Test your URL in a different browser (e.g., Firefox vs. Chrome) to verify that it is stable. Why would this organization publish this information?

    • What are the organization's goals (e.g., "About," "FAQ," "Media Center")?

    Look for names:

    • Of people (e.g., Board members, staff). What is their expertise? What statements do they make?
    • Of organizations who support or fund this site. What are their goals?

    Tip: Search [link:URL] to identify who links to and values this site.

  • How do I fact-check the information?

    Follow the trail of evidence to see who the author links to, quotes, or references:

    • Has the author represented the original source accurately?
    • Is data presented fully or "cherry picked" to suppress contradictory evidence?
    • Are the author's sources credible?
    • How strong is the evidence? If there is a study or poll, is the sample size large enough to represent the population accurately?

    Corroborate: Compare information from different media (e.g., magazines, reports, journals, blogs) to gather diverse viewpoints.

  • How do I evaluate the author's argument?

    What is the author's purpose (e.g., persuade, inform, describe)? How do I know?

    • What is the thesis or main idea?
    • How strong is the evidence supporting the claims?
    • Does the author consider other views?
    • Whose perspective might be missing?
    • Do the conclusions follow logically from the analysis? Could I interpret things differently?

    How does this source fit?

    • Does this source add a different point of view?
    • Does this make sense, given what I already know?

  • How do I cite a Web page?

    Gather possible elements from the Web page and Web site.

    • Title
    • Author
    • Editor of the page or site
    • Name of the Web site or Project
    • Publisher or sponsor
    • Date of publication
    • Date of access
    • URL

  • How do I select and evaluate a URL?

    Always evaluate Web pages individually, not by the domain alone. The Web domain is not a foolproof measure of content or quality because:

    • Sites may have user-contributed content and advertising disguised as articles
    • ANY organization can purchase a .org, .net, or .com domain
    • Criteria for new top-level domains (e.g., .mobi, .biz, .jobs, etc.) are vague
    • The same content can be on multiple domains outside the U.S. (i.e., the Jerusalem Post is at or

    Tip: .gov and .mil domains are restricted to U.S. government and military.


    Find a stable URL (often ending in .htm, .html, a slash, or no file extension).

    • Look for a "permalink," "durable link" or "static link"
    • Paste your URL in a different browser (e.g., Firefox vs. Chrome) to verify that it is stable
    • For an archived Web page (e.g., Wayback Machine), always use the entire URL