Skip to main content

Searching with a Web Directory

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

There are two main types of directories: those that are hierarchical (i.e. that lead one from a general topic to a more specific one) and those that list sources in some sort of order (most commonly alphabetical). The first type of index often contains a broad range of topics while the second usually contains sources designed to address a particular topic or concern.

Most search engines have some sort of index attached to them. More prominent and well-developed ones include The Open Directory Project , Yahoo!, and Google . Indexes are valuable for Web researchers who have an area on which they want to focus, but do not yet have a specific topic. An index can help a writer get general information or a "feel" for the topic.

An Example:
  • Go to Yahoo! (contains a Web directory)
  • Find a topic that interests you ("education")
  • Follow it through specifics ("rural education", "Rural Education Institute")
  • "Rural Education Institute" is a specific topic that can be feasibly researched, either by following the listed links or by using that phrase in a keyword search.