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Getting Information and Pictures from Web Sites

by Alan Zisman 2001 ~ Polish translation available

Annotating Web Sites:

Secondary students need to get into the habit of properly annotating their sources of information. The Internet is no exception. A citation for information gathered from the Web should include the following information:

  • the Web Page Title: This is listed in the title bar on top of the browser window.
  • the URL (web address): This is listed in the browser’s address bar. It can be copied and pasted into a word processor so that it is reproduced without error—click in the address bar at the end of the address, and the entire address will be highlighted. Edit/Copy. Switch to the word processor and Edit/Paste.
  • the author: The author of the web page information may not be indicated.
  • the date: If the date the page was written or last updated is indicated (often at the bottom of the page), use this date, otherwise, use the date accessed.
Format:

author, optional, "Web Page Title", webpage.address, date.

Saving Web Pages:

Browsers all include a File/Save menu option. In many cases, however, this doesn’t do what we expect. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 and later, by default, saves the entire page so it can be accessed later. Earlier versions, and all versions of Netscape Navigator, however, only save the text—no pictures. Moreover, if the page was designed with frames, you may find that the part of the page you want didn’t get saved at all. As a result, saving web pages can be disappointing. Here are some things you can try instead:

Saving Web Graphics:

On Windows systems, right-click on the desired picture, and a menu will pop up. In Netscape Navigator, choose Save Image As, while in Internet Explorer, pick Save Picture As. Mac users can get the popup menu by (either) holding the mouse button down for several seconds, or pressing Ctrl+Click. Save the picture with a name and location that you will be able to locate later! (Mac users also have a handy option to copy the picture to the computer clipboard).

Using Saved Web Graphics in your word processor

Saving your picture is nice, but you need to be able to use it in your word processor. How you do it depends on the word processor (and version). MS Word 97 and 2000, for example, have an Insert/Picture menu item. That gives options… you want to pick the From File. This will let you locate the file and place it on your page. Then, you can make it larger or smaller, as needed, by clicking on the picture to select it, then pulling on one of the small squares on the corners.

Some word processors, especially older versions, don’t recognize the GIF and JPEG format of web graphics. Here’s a method that will always work.

  • Open a graphics program that will accept web graphic files (some schools have PaintShop Pro or PhotoShop. If not, I recommend the free Irfanview for PCs or the shareware Graphics Converter for Macs. (Both can be downloaded from my website: http://www.zisman.ca/files) Select the part of the picture that you want to use. Edit/Copy. In your word processor, go to a new line and Edit/Paste. This will always work, even if your word processor doesn’t understand web graphics! (Note that Mac users can simply copy the web graphic to the clipboard and paste into their word processor).
Capture what’s on screen

You may want to include a picture of exactly what’s on screen. This is especially useful if you’re giving students instructions. (You’ll see some examples of this in the handout.) This is not just an Internet skill, but can always be used with computers.

  • Windows users: When what you want is on screen, press the Print Screen key to send the entire screen to the computer clipboard. Or hold down the Alt key along with Print Screen to ‘capture’ the active window (for instance, just the Print dialogue box). If you want the entire screen capture in your document, in your word processor Edit/Paste… if you want to only use part of it (especially if you captured the whole screen), paste it into a graphics program (even the freebie Windows Paint (in the Accessories menu)), select the part you want to use, Edit/Copy, then switch to your word processor and paste it in.
  • Mac users: pressing the three keys Cmd (a.k.a. the Apple key), Shift, and the number 3 will capture the entire screen, saving it to your hard drive with the name Picture 1. (Isn’t that easy to remember? Isn’t the Mac user friendly?) Cmd+Shift+4 lets you use the mouse to make a rectangle on screen that will be saved as Picture 1 (or Picture 2, etc). When the computer does this, it will make a sound like a camera shutter clicking.
Then, Mac users will need to open the picture in a graphics program to select part of it to use, or use their word processor’s Import/Picture commands to place the picture in their word processor.

What if you only want some information from a web page?

You can highlight the information you want to use, and once again Edit/Copy… go to your word processor, and Edit/Paste. You may find that the line breaks are messed up—you can correct these by going to the beginning of a line and pressing Backspace to move it up to the previous line (you may have to insert a space between words). It’s a pain, but it works!

Printing Problems

There are a number of problems printing web pages. Among them:

  • pages with white text on a coloured background print as white letters on white paper—i.e. the text is invisible! Light-coloured text is almost as bad.
  • websites may be very long, and you probably only need some of the information.
  • Web pages designed with frames may only print part of the page—usually not the part you want.
Here are some things to do:
  • Don’t automatically press Print (or click the Printer icon)… instead, if available, use the File/Print Preview option to see how the site will print out first. (Note—Netscape version 4 has Print Preview, as does Internet Explorer 5.5 or later, but other browser versions may not). If your browser has this option, get in the habit of always using it- it will show whether the text will appear, whether there’s a problem with frames, etc. It also lets you see how many pages will print.
  • If your text doesn’t appear in print preview, copy it to the clipboard and paste it into your word processor instead (see above).
  • A quick trick to see how long is your web page is to look at the size of the ‘elevator’ in the scroll bar on the right. A large elevator indicates a short page, since it represents how much of the total document is currently visible on screen.
  • If you only want some of the pages, use print preview (along with its magnify option) to identify the page numbers you want. Then use the Print dialogue box’s options to just print those pages. Note that if you, for instance, just want to print page 5, you need to choose to print: Pages from 5 to 5

Print dialogue box

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan