Lesson 1.6: Finding text on a web page

Access Lesson 1.6 slides here


Have you ever needed to locate words on a page efficiently? Suppose you want to find your time in the local 8K race. It’s easy to find the page that contains the information, but what do you do then?  

One option is the Find feature of your web browser, using Control-F (Command-F on Mac), to find a piece of text on a web page. Unlike searching, which looks across a number of web pages to find which of the pages contain certain words, 

Control-F/Command-F looks within the text of a single page to find precisely where that word is located.

You can try out Control-F/Command-F on any web page. For example, if you want to know where Mumbai, India ranks among the most populous cities in the world, you might search for [most populous cities world] and pick one of the pages that come up. Next, your task is to locate the word Mumbai on the page.

Find the Control key (Command key on Mac). While holding that key down, also press the F key.  A find box will open, and you can enter the word Mumbai to locate it on the page.

Where exactly your find box opens on the screen varies, depending on which browser you use:

This feature allows you to review a long document quickly.  

When you use the Find feature, consider what word to use. For example, assume you want to know which games Scotland played in cricket in the month of August 2010. If you have a list of sporting events in August 2010 and use the Find feature to look for [scotland], you would need to scroll through 26 occurrences of the term to find the ones related to cricket. Alternatively, you might choose to look for the word [cricket] on the page. There are 29 occurrences of cricket, but since the word "cricket" is always at the head of each section, it might be a faster process.

Please note that at this time, there is no easy way to use Control-F/ Command-F to find two words near each other if they are not adjacent.  

Why do you need to know this? The big reason is that it can really speed up finding what you want. In our studies we've found that it cuts the time people need to locate information in regular web search by about 12%. When we carried out this study, we found that only 10% of all searchers knew about using Control-F/Command-F.

Please use the activity to try out the Find feature for yourself.

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