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Identifying Information Resources

There are so many different types of information on the Internet, it is sometimes difficult to identify what you see on the screen. Knowing the type of information you need or are hoping to find will help in accessing the information and useing it appropriately. Review the broad categories below to help identify different types of information formats and publications.

Basic Research Tools or Finding Aids on the Web

Five Basic Types of Web Pages (From Widener University)

  • Business Pages - almost everything that ends with .com
  • News - CNN, Newspapers, etc.
  • Informational - Encyclopedias, Museums, etc.
  • Advocacy - Pages put up by groups that are advocating something can range from the American Cancer Society to white supremacists
  • Personal - Anybody's personal pages

Scholarly and Popular Information

Primary and Secondary Sources

  • Primary Sources: Primary sources are the original documents of an event or discovery such as results of research, experiments or surveys, interviews, letters, diaries, legal documents, and scientific journal articles.  Primary sources are also records of events as they are first described. These might be videotapes, audio recordings or eyewitness news reports.
  • Secondary Sources: Secondary sources offer an analysis or a restatement of an event or discovery described in primary sources. They interpret, explain or summarize primary sources. Some secondary sources are used to persuade the reader. Secondary sources may be considered less objective.  Examples of secondary sources include: dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, articles and editorials that interpret or review research works.

Various Files, Formats and Media on the Web (see Glossary for details)

  • html - all web pages are developed using HTML, although each basic page may contain links to many other types of files including graphics, java, video, etc. The file extension may be .htm or .html, for a web page
  • audio - real audio, .wav, .au and .mp3 are the most common audio file types. Listen to sound clips from your favorite music artists at CD Now after installing Real Audio player.
  • video - real player and shockwave are common video and multimedia viewers
    • One useful video plug in is "Shockwave." If you have installed the Shockwave plug in, and have a  fast Internet connection you can view the latest movie trailers at
  • graphics - .PDF, .GIF, .JPG, and animated GIF files are the most common types of graphics files on the Web
  • text - many types of word processing files, spreadsheets, databases, and hypertext can be seen on the Web or easily translated to HTML
    • Common text file types include
      • .txt - for plain ascii text files that can be used in any word processor or read in a Web browser. 
      • .doc for Microsoft Word files
      • .wpd for Word Perfect files
      • .pdf for Adobe Acrobat files usually viewed on the Web with the Acrobat reader, these are really graphic representations of text
  • other Internet Protocols - Many other resources using protocols other than http may all be retrieved via a Web browser

It is important to decide on the type of information or media  you need before you start looking, and to know what type of information or media you are viewing as you critically evaluate it.

Updated April 10, 2009 . Please send comments to Kathy Payne
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Stewart Library - Weber State University - Ogden, Utah 84408. (801) 626-6403 - Copyright © 2008 ALL Rights Reserved