Browsing the World Wide Web
A Beginners Guide

Experience has shown us that there are still many people out there that haven't yet developed the confidence to successfully navigate through the pages of the web. This short guide is aimed at helping those people gain that confidence.

A Brief Note on Browsers

This guide is based around Internet Explorer, as it currently holds the largest share of the browser market by far, though there are several versions of web browser and they have subtle differences. The menus and icons are usually very similar between browsers, so we hope that most of you will be able to apply this guide if you have begun your experience with an alternate. However, if you have difficulty in making the comparisons, we would like to hear from you via our contact form and we will endeavour to help you.

Features of a Web Browser

The image below right shows a section of a web browser that is displaying the Google web site. At the top of the page is the menu bar, consisting of the menu titles File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools and Help and these provide comprehensive access to the functions and settings of the browser.

Frequently used functions are laid out as button icons, in what is called the Standard Buttons Toolbar, on theA browser displaying the Google site row beneath the menu bar and, in the beginning, you will not need much more than these. If you are unable to see these buttons, left-click on the View menu, select the Toolbars submenu and left-click the Standard Buttons option, so a tick will appear next to it. Your buttons should now appear.

The final row is called the Address Bar and this contains the web site address (known as a Uniform Resource Locator, though more commonly as a link when written in a web page) of the page that is currently displayed in the browser window.

The Address Bar

A little detail is used here, though it is not necessary for you to fully understand all of the points, as for the most part they are informative rather than instructive.

The browser address barHere, the address bar is broken into parts. First we have the page icon The address bar browser icon , which represents the address as a whole. There are some uses for this that we'll show you further on in this guide.

Next is the protocol, which basically tells the computer how to communicate the data to your browser. You will normally see either http:// as in the case of this page, or https:// in the case of, for example, a banking website. The difference between the additional s is the difference between unsecure and secure. Any site address prefixed with https:// is using special encyption to secure the communication between your computer and the computer on the Internet that is providing you with the page.

The rest of the information is the world wide web address of the page or site that you are, or wish to visit. Note that the address may not necessarily be prefixed by www.

If you know the address of a page that you wish to go to, left-click the mouse pointer anywhere over the address, so that the current address becomes highlighted. You may now type a new address over the current one finishing by pressing the Enter button on the keyboard. Also note that it is not usually necessary to add the http:// part, as the browser will do this for you.

Another useful tip. If you type the name of the site, for example northterminal, into the address bar and, while holding the Ctrl key, press Enter on the keyboard, the http:// and the .com will be added for you. Now either click Go, to the right of the address bar or Enter on the keyboard to be taken to the site!

The Back & Forward Buttons

The browser back and forward buttonsThese provide you with quick access to pages you have already visited. For instance, If the Back button is clicked once the browser reverts to the previously viewed page. Click here and then press your back button to try it out. The Forward button may then be clicked to the page you just viewed. These buttons will remember all of your movements through the web, so Back may be clicked numerous times to revert to a page viewed previously in your current internet session.

Note that, if Back is clicked, for instance to return to Google, then Google is used to perform a search the Forward button may not be used to return to the earlier site, as you have moved forward and so started a new thread to move between.

Navigating with back and forward buttons

So in the above example, it would not be possible to return to the BBC News page using the Back/Forward buttons, after going back to the second page (your Google search results) and selecting another result to move on to. This new selection (a Times Online story) will now become your third page in the current thread.

The Halt Button

The browser halt button"Halts any navigation action you have performed, such as clicking on a link. For instance, if you click on a link and you think you have made a wrong selection, left-clicking the halt button will stop the browser from continuing, though you have to be quick!

The Refresh Button

The browser refresh buttonReloads the current page in the browser. Used if the page loads incorrectly and needs reloading or if you wish to update the current page. Handy with stock market pages, for instance.

The Home Page Button

The browser home buttonDirects the browser to whatever page is set as your home page. Information on setting your home page follows later.


The Favorites Menu

The Favorites folder provides a facility for storing a shortcut to frequently accessed web pages or pages you may come across and would like to bookmark for another time.

The favorites buttonThe favorites menuYou may access your 'Favorite' pages by either left-clicking on the Favorites button (similar to left icon), which opens a small window in your browser or left-clicking the Favorites menu item, which produces a drop-down menu (similar to the right icon).

If using the button (which produces the new window), move the mouse pointer to the required link in the new window and left-click your selection. In the case of the drop-down menu, move the mouse pointer over the name of the page until it is highlighted and left-click. These actions will direct your browser to the page you have just selected.

Adding Items to your Favorites Folder

In both the Favorites browser window and the drop-down menu, there are options available to Add to Favorites and Organize Favorites. To add a page to your Favorite folder, you must first have the page displayed in your browser. For this example, Google is displayed in the browser window and the address http://www.google.co.uk is displayed in the address bar.

The add to favorites windowLeft-clicking Add to Favorites will display a window similar to the one on the right. If you do not see the list of folders, click the Create in >> button and the folder list should appear.

The text in the name box is only a suggestion and you may call your shortcut to the page anything you like.

Notice that next to the Create in: label on the left of the list, the folder named Favorites is highlighted. This means that if you left-click the OK button here, an entry named Google will be created in the Favorites folder for your continued use. Should you wish to store all of your shortcuts to search engines in a dedicated folder, then you may need to create a new folder, which may be performed by clicking the New Folder… button and typing the name of your new folder (eg: Search Engines) into the box and left-clicking OK. The Search Engines folder that you just created should now be highlighted, so when you next left-click the OK button the shortcut to the Google page will be added to the Search Engines folder in your Favorites list.

Organising the Favorites Folder

You may collect a considerable number of shortcuts as you discover sources of reference and information in your exploration of the World Wide Web and it will help you later if you keep them organised now.

Organising the Favorites FolderThe Organize Favorites window may be accessed either via the Favorites button or drop-down menu.

From here you may move page shortcuts (the blue icons) into the folders (the yellow icons) by clicking one icon and dragging it on to another, then dropping it. It is also possible to create, rename and delete files & folders from here by selecting one of them and using the buttons on the left of the window.

Setting the Home Page

To set your choice of home page, you must first open the Internet Options window. If you have a browser window open, left-click Tools from the menu and then left-click Internet Options… Alternatively, with the mouse pointer over the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop you can right-click and then left-click Properties on the menu that appears.

The Internet Options windowThe Internet Options window should now appear and on the right are cuttings from the top and bottom of this window, which are the required sections to change your home page.

If you are not able to see a Home Page address box similar to the one to the left, then make sure the General tab is the active page of the window by clicking on the word General, as circled in the picture to the left.

In the box labelled Address: an address should already be highlighted ready for you to over type it. If not, double-click in the white area of the box to highlight the whole address. You may now type in your new home page address, not forgetting to prefix with http:// and left-click the OK button. You should now have set your Home Page to your choice, so now when you start Internet Explorer, your web browser, it will automatically open at this page.

When choosing your Home Page, you may wish to consider what you will use the World Wide Web for. For instance, if you like to read the news each time you access the Internet, then http://news.bbc.co.uk/ may be a good choice for your Home Page. Alternatively, you may perform a search for information most times you dial-up, so you may wish to use a search engine, such as Google. Or maybe you would like to see a bit of news or gossip and you would also like to be able to perform a search, so MSN (http://www.msn.co.uk/) may be a better choice. Or more likely, you will have your own preference!

Note: You may have noticed that the address for BBC News in the above paragraph does not contain a WWW prefix, though the addresses is quite valid. So, remember that not all Web addresses are preceded with WWW.

Searching the World Wide Web

Search engines have some built in conventions to aid you to find what you are looking for faster, so here are a couple of tips to use when searching for information on the Web.

Enclosing your search term in "quotation marks" means the search engine will only return pages that exactly match the enclosed words, so would be helpful if you are looking to match an exact quote. Try "guide to the planets" with and without the quotations to give yourself an idea of how it works. This works best with more obscure searches.

Using the + symbol will return only pages including the words that follow a plus symbol. You may use the + symbol more than once in a single search term.

Example: warkworth +castle +hermitage will return pages including all of these words only.

Using the – symbol will return pages that don’t include the word that follows the – symbol.

Example: thatcher –margaret will return pages that include the word thatcher but not those including the word margaret.

The above conventions may all be used together, to refine your search.

Example: "Newcastle United" +players –shearer will return pages including Newcastle United and players, but disregard those including shearer.

Happy Surfing

That's about all there is time for at the moment. We hope that you have found this guide useful and welcome any feedback on the content of the page. Please feel free to get in touch using our contact form.

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