Homework Helper: Search Tips

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Search Tips

Search for information on your topic.

Note: You must spell the search term correctly for the search to work.

Information Please logo infoplease search for in

Basic Searching

Just enter the term in the search box above, then click "Go!" or hit enter. You will see a list of documents from that relate to your search term. To restrict your search to just the Dictionary or Encyclopedia, go to the "All Sources" box and choose "Dictionary" or "Encyclopedia" before you click "Go!" You request exact matches only by quotation marks around the entire phrase, in which case only matches to the phrase will be listed.

What is a ___ ? or What does ___ mean?

If your question can be phrased like this, you should try looking up ___ in the Information Please Dictionary or Encyclopedia.


If you need to know about a person, whether an author or a philosopher, historical figure or mythological creature, just search for it. You can enter only the last name if you don't know the first name.

Information on Cities, States, Countries

Need to know the Mayor of Atlanta? The state cooking pot of Utah? A brief history of Argentina? Try searching on the name of the city, state, or country. You'd be surprised what you can find this way. You can find government officials, population, churches, literacy rates, land areas, and economic statistics, such as income per person (also called per capita), unemployment, and primary industries.

U.S. Political Data

To find out who the national representatives are from your state, check out the Almanac's elections section ,

which includes the current Congressional representatives. You can also visit the pages for the Senate and House of Representatives. If you need to know the platforms of the major U.S. political parties, check out their respective home pages: Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee.

Foreign Language Help

Can't conjugate that French verb? Try the University of Chicago's site. To conjugate Spanish verbs, try the University of Waterloo site. For an online bilingual German dictionary, visit the Leo site. For Latin, check out Tufts University's Perseus Project, which has a searchable version of Allen and Greenough's Latin Grammar online.

English Grammar, Spelling, and Writing

If you need to understand a particular term or phrase, try looking it up on this site. If you need more help with how to use words in sentences or paragraphs, the folks at Capital Community Technical College have gathered together a valuable Guide to Grammar and Writing for learning and understanding all types of grammar questions. They provide help on topics such as plurals, verb conjugations and agreements, capitalization, abbreviations, etc. If you need writing help, this is the place to go!

What Happened in ___(year)?

To find out what news events happened during a particular year, check out the World History section of the almanac. For information on a year between 1900 and 1999, select the year from the 20th Century Year by Year list.

You can find lots of information about music, movies, plays, books and other entertainment events from a given year by using the Infoplease search engine. Just type the year into the search box, use the scroll box to change "All Sources" to "Entertainment", and click "Go!"

To find out what happened on a particular day, check out this Daily Almanac, arranged by day, or this one, arranged by year.

How Much Did Things Cost in ___(year)?

To find out how much things cost, look at the table in the almanac that gives the Value of a Dollar. The table tells how many dollars you would have needed in each year to buy $1.00 worth of goods in 1998. To get a general idea of how much an item cost in a particular year, take today's price of that item and divide it by the amount in the table for that year.

Weather and Climate

Generally, if you need to know the average temperature, rainfall of a particular city or state, try searching for "climate." To find historical data on weather for over 2000 cities, try the Washington Post's Historical Weather Database.

Highest Mountains, Largest Lakes

If you need to know the tallest mountains in North America, try searching for the feature (i.e., highest mountains) rather than the geographical area. This works for other "superlative features" too, like the largest islands, largest ocean, biggest deserts, etc.


If you need find a map of the U.S., of a particular state, the University of Texas Library has an excellent collection. For an interactive map, visit the U.S. Census Bureau's maps (scroll down a bit to view popular pre-set selections including maps of the U.S., New York City, or Washington, D.C.).

State Flags

If you need a picture of your state's flag, check out the University of Oklahoma Law Center.

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