Top of the Web Top of the Web

Access selected resources in a variety of topic areas; check out these tip sheets on where to go for the best Web resources in a variety of topic areas. I've selected 5 Web sites in 20 categories to give you a headstart on finding useful resources on the Web. I chose Web sites based on usefulness, usability, and depth and breadth of coverage. My goal here is not to present an exhaustive subject tree of all Web resources (see subject resources for those), but to give you a handful of Web sites in each of these categories representing the best of the Web. Reviews here are my opinion and are subject to change; if you know of a better resource to replace an entry in one of these lists, please let me know.


This web helps you explore some of the best resources on the World Wide Web; here, you'll find organized and annotated links to Web sites about reference, science, commerce, and society; you can view and link to this information in a variety of ways, and your suggestions are welcome. Use the links at the top of this page to navigate and access this information.

  • Edited by: You can contact the editor of this information with your ideas and corrections; there are different formats for this information
    • John December
    • John December: Editor of this information since 1996
    • Suggestion?: please send a correction of any information you find here or your suggestion to via email with the subject line web-top

Top of the Web Search

Access search tools and directories to find information; includes Web site search engines and reference resources to locate information, people, or interesting Web resources


Find information on the World Wide Web by keyword queries; Web sites that locate documents based on keyword matches; many of these sites have expanded to searching images, news, maps, blogs, weather, and reference sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries; some of these Web sites contain or are associated with subject-oriented search directories

  • Google: keyword and multi-service search; clean interface and fast operation; many specialized search services including patents or scholarly papers and citations; detailed advanced search form; "Lucky" button takes you directly to the first matching Web page; direct links to advanced searching include: Google Scholar, Google Blog Search, Google Book Search; all products have a very clean, usable interface
  • CompletePlanet: deep web search; look through a large listing of specialty databases and search engines that may not be cross-indexed in popular keyword search engines for the Web
  • Bing: keyword searching; from Microsoft; search Web, ImagesVideos, Shopping, News, Maps, and More
  • Findtarget: integrates subject search into keyword searching
  • Yahoo: keyword and multi-service search; includes Answers cooperative search community; other specialized searches include Creative Commons content; Yahoo itself originated in ancient times (pre-1994) as a subject tree of information


Browse information on the World Wide Web by topic; subject-oriented Webs are arranged hierarchically according to subjects which are broken down into topics and sub-topics; subject trees are the Web's oldest information structure and were the sole navigation tool used by the ancient Geeks; in a subject tree, you navigate down through successive Web pages to find links of interest; or you can search the annotations in the subject directory itself about the Web sites included in it; see also: user-generated navigation, Top site lists for more selective subject-oriented lists or lookup resources for specific, professionally-edited topic lookups

  • DMOZ: Open Directory Project; Collaboratively edited, built in the spirit of Open Source, this project provides links to thousands and thousands of topic areas; its contents are available to other sites, so this subject tree serves as the "guts" for many other search portals; the clean, no-nonsense design and editorial diversity make this an excellent subject tree; it shows the value of human editors; weakness exists where no human editor is working diligently on a topic area; DMOZ is an acronym for Directory Mozilla because the Open Directory Project (ODP) is loosely associated with the Mozilla Web browser project; sites can get listed for free in the ODP
  • About: Subject-specific guides; written by editors, the guides go beyond simple lists of links but contain explanatory informaiton on a range of subjects
  • Wikipedia: free-content encyclopedia; openly-editable content; supported by the Wikimedia Foundation
  • INFOMINE: librarian-built directory of scholarly Internet information sources; resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level; databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers; organized for keyword searching of the collection as well as subject/topic browsing


Find people through their phone number, address, or other means; includes a variety of Web-based methods such as address and phone lookups; see also: keyword for finding references to names on the Web

  • Pipl: Deep Web people searching; uses a variety of sources including material that is not crawled by Web surface spiders; looks at personal profiles, member directories, scientific publications, court records; language-analysis and ranking algorithms; integrates with other people-finding Web sites, some of which charge for detailed reports; reverse phone lookup; lookup by email, username; amazing--almost spooky--it is like having your own 007 agent to work for you
  • Findermind: people search help and reviewing various resources for finding people; articles, advice, and guidance about finding people
  • SkipEase: advanced people finding resources; title of the site comes from the term "skip tracer," someone whose job it is to locate missing persons, particularly debtors; site provides a nice interface to a collection of many free people locator services; includes: white pages search, phone prefix search, area and zip code finders, county locator, batch / volume people search, nearby people search, reverse phone and address search, mailbox / maildrop / post office finder, worldwide free people search, employee / coworker finder, roommate search, free people search, college, etc, etc.; very complete and advanced for professional use
  • Infobel: world telephone directories; specialist portal connects you to white and yellow pages phone books in countries all over the world--from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
  • PeopleSpot: people searching site directory; a compact and well-organized directory of links related to searching for people; includes links to cemeteries, genealogy, obituaries, vital records, statistics, notable people biographies, associations, alumni networks, and quick reference


Look up specific facts or pieces of information; includes professionally-edited and maintained reference works like dictionaries, almanacs, and ready reference collections; see also people locating resources, keyword resources, and subject resources

  • Infoplease: Look up almost any fact; an integrated dictionary, encyclopedia, almanac, biographies, and atlas; Information Please's history goes back to a 1938 radio quiz show, an annual almanac starting in 1947; and a Web site since 1998
  • Melissa: Melissa Data Free Online Lookups; free address and ZIP Code-related information lookup services from Melissa Data, a mailing lists, software, and data company; provides a clean, usable interface to a range of free lookup services that could save you hours of time; find campaign contributors, nonprofit organizations, occupants by zip code, business counts by SIC code, income by zip code, US and worldwide place names, etc.
  • WolframAlpha: Knowledge engine (facts computation, statistics, calculator); pulls together facts from a variety of sources; for example: find the population of Boston, the square root of pi, the diameter of Neptune, winner of the 1896 Olympic men's marathon, the King of Spain
  • Refdesk: reference portal; large collection of links that guide you to a wide variety of reference and information sources on the Web; so massive that it nearly is a subject tree of Web resources itself; edited by Bob Drudge, father of Matt Drudge (Drudge Report)


Discover user-generated navigation sites; a variety of Web sites allow users to contribute, share, participate, and otherwise build or tag information content; this shared content is useful for navigating the Web or discovering Web resources; specific applications include social bookmarking as well as news-sharing

  • social bookmarking; users keep lists of their favorite Web sites on this site and share these with others; rankings and sortings available so that you can find things; tags are used to organize bookmarks
  • user-contributed news; users contribute links to their favorite news articles and share links with others; coverage includes technology, science, world, business, sports, entertainment, and gaming
  • Reddit: user-generated news links
  • Blogs: diary-like entries conveying comments, opinions, news, and ideas; the original user-generated content on the Web were personal Web pages, which were sometimes called "home pages;" with the invention of blog software, people could instead focus on creating serial Web content; many blogs cover specific subject areas and are therefore often useful for discovering new resources or ideas in a given field
  • Alexa: toolbar-based site rankings and associations; users can install an Alexa toolbar to see information on Web sites they visit; information includes traffic ranking as well as links to other Web sites that share common visitors; user activity recorded by the toolbar reveals these Web page relationships; very useful for finding sites related to a given site, including competitor sites or any other sites that may relate because of user visitation patterns


Discover interesting Web sites based on ranked lists; a variety of approaches to ranking Web sites are possible: editorial selection, user nomination, or traffic flow and popularity; these ranking list sites are useful to help locate interesting or useful resources without having to sift through massive directories or puzzle through keyword search results; these sites are also useful for new users of the Internet who want to gain an awareness of notable or excellent sites

  • Alexa: top Web sites based on traffic; as measured by Alexa traffic rank which is based on Alexa Toolbar users; lists of top traffic sites in Arts, Business, Computers, Games, Health, Home, Kids and Teens, News, Recreation, Reference, Regional, Science, Shopping, Society, Sports, and World; useful to see what sites currently get many page views
  • 100best: A list of 100 sites on the Web; evaluated on criteria
  • Forbes: Best of the Web; editorially-selected best Web sites in many categories which are then further broken up into more specific topic areas; categories include: Blogs, Collecting, Education, Health, Investing, Look It Up, Luxe Shopping, Management, Personal Finance and Careers, The Good Life, and Travel; Weekly newsletter available; this is a very extensive collection and not recommended for getting a rapid overview of the best of the Web, but for looking at excellent sites in very specific topic areas
  • StartSpot: selective directories in specialized subject areas; well-organized and focused guides to the best Web resources in a variety of subject areas; Spot directories include: Book, Cinema, Genealogy, Give, Gourmet, Gov, Headline, Homework, Library, Museum, People, Shopping, and Trip
  • Hotsheet: Table of useful sites; concise table of sites in a variety of categories; cleverly done and customizable; best pick for a one-page overview of the best of the Web

Top of the Web Science

Find out about the systematic study of the natural or physical world; deals with a body of observations to prove or disprove theories about the operation of general laws; includes educational and research sites


Locate general science sites; find educational and informative sites for general audiences; these sites provide extensive original content that explores and explains general science topics; see also: computer

  • New Scientist: science and technology news magazine; offers extensive information from its news service as well as archives of past articles; includes an annotated link collection to science Web sites of all kinds
  • astronomy, NASA, space news; includes current news, features, participatory activities, and coverage of entertainment and popular science fiction
  • Nature: Science journal; weekly scientific journal launched in 1869; additional journals; science news, jobs, and information
  • World: World of Science; Eric Weisstein's World of Science consists of encyclopedias of astronomy, mathematics, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics; edited by Eric W. Weisstein with assistance from the Internet community
  • SciAm: Scientific American; web site for Scientific American; includes selections from the current issue as well as explorations and exhibits; references to offline relevant and high-quality sites


Learn about devices made to perform logical operations according to instructions; includes sites about computer news, hardware, and software, in industry and academia; see also: software resources

  • ZDNet: ZD publications in computing and technology; including PC Week, MacWeek, Windows, Computer Shopper, PC Computing, InternetUser, Inter@ctive Week, Nuke, MacUser, Computer Gaming, ComputerLife, FamilyPC, Yahoo! Internet Life, Yahoo! Computing. Offers a roundup of daily computing news, complete with links to special reports, personalities, radio broadcasts, and an "anchor desk" which puts it all together in a newspaper-style layout and format. If you are buying a computer, check out the reviews of in the products section of the web.
  • cnet: news and information about computers and online technology; regular news, departments, and feature articles in addition to product reviews and resource collections
  • extensive industry coverage; Internet and information technology (IT); from Jupitermedia
  • ComputerWorld: coverage of Information Technology (IT); articles on how to deal with changing technology as well as career information, such as links to jobs, graduate schools, conferences, and recruiter information
  • Comp Sci: Computer Science information sources; organized and annotated links to Web sites about Computer Science organizations, topics, books, and links


Search archives for software to do a variety of tasks; includes for-sale software, shareware, and freeware

  • LibreOffice: free software applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, database, and drawing; open source; works on Windows, Solaris, Linux; can open and use Microsoft Office documents using Open Office; save documents in PDF format, common look and feel of applications
  • Snapfiles: selective, yet comprehensive, collection of Internet software and system utilities; includes a large set of freeware, for Windows; reviews; strength: ratings by Snapfiles as well as users; screenshots
  • Download: CNET; shareware and freeware from a large, searchable database; tips and information about some of the best shareware; good balance between comprehensiveness and selectivity; good annotations
  • Tucows: shareware downloads and reviews; for windows, Mac, Linux; editor and user ratings; articles and forums
  • ZDNet: ZDNet Downloads; shareware, commercial, and freeware and packages including games, Internet, education, programs and utilities, and editor's picks; useful to find software and reviews in a very large collection


Find out about health-related issues; topics include medical treatment, advice, and information as well as prevention and wellness in physical, mental, and nutrition health

  • WebMD: health information; drugs and treatments, women's, men's, children's health; health news; videos; physician directory, drug search, first aid information, symptom checker
  • Mayo Clinic: professionally-edited medical and health information; from Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; covers healthy lifestyle, symptoms, diseases, tests, and drugs
  • NIH: US National Institutes of Health; health information including lifestyles, body systems and locations, conditions and diseases, health and wellness
  • APA: American Psychological Association Help Center; information on mental health issues including physical and emotional well-being on topics such as stress, work, school, and family relationships; brochures, tips, and articles
  • Authority Nutrition: health, nutrition based on scientific evidence

Top of the Web Commerce

Find out about the activities of producers and consumers involved in trade


Locate information about producers of goods or services and their customers; includes resources about business and for businesses people; see also: marketing resources and money resources

  • Hoover's: comprehensive directory to company and industry information; in-depth coverage of companies; basic search information available for free: for example, find company overviews showing company subsidiaries or units, company address, phone, and Web site URL as well as key numbers such as yearly sales, number of employees, and key people; subscribers can get more detail
  • CNNMoney: Web presence of Fortune, Money, Business 2.0, and Fortune Small Business paper magazine about business; news, markets, technology, jobs, personal finance, real estate; rankings such as lists like the Fortune 500 and the best cities for business
  • Inc: for entrepreneurs and small business owners; outgrowth of the paper Inc. magazine; resource centers, Inc. 500 list, columns, technology, startups, events, Inc. TV videos
  • AllBusiness: business questions and practical solutions; how-to articles, contracts and agreements, expert advice, blogs, business news, business directory listings, product comparisons, business guides, a small business association; geared to small, growing businesses
  • US Government-related business information; businesses involved in US federal government services, information, and transactions; covers doing business with the government, international trade, labor, laws, the latest news, and finance; if you are doing business with the U.S. government or own a business in the United States, this site is a must-see; strength: authoritative, deep, and comprehensive coverage; formerly


Locate and use tools and information for personal finance and money management; includes information about handling money, investments, and practical advice and tools

  • Investopedia: investing education; dictionary, articles, stock simulator, stock quotes; mutual funds, retirement, professional education
  • SmartMoney: personal investing; stock and mutual fund information including quotes and charts, market updates, and personal finance investing tools and advice; joint publishing venture of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and Hearst SM Partnership
  • Dave Ramsey: personal money management emphasizing debt avoidance; personal finance radio talk show host; emphasis is on the behavior of people who have problems handling money, made worse by tendencies to get into debt and avoid budgeting, saving, and organizing personal finance; some "financial experts" seem to misunderstand Ramsey's emphasis and audience--this is not personal money management for sophisticates who wish to mathematically optimize cash flow and have debt, but personal money management for the many, many, many people who have a great deal of problems handling money at the basic level and handling access to credit of any kind; Ramsey's "baby steps" approach is practical, provides motivation, and is something that people who have problems handling money can understand, remember, and follow; numerous tips, motivation, and advice on the Web site as well as the streaming radio show
  • Forbes: personal finance and advice; covers investing advice and education, mutual funds, philanthropy, retirement and college, taxes and estates, and guru insights
  • Kiplinger Tools: financial calculators, investing and finance tools; use online forms to perform calculations related to stocks, funds, budgeting, taxes, savings, and income; for example, you can calculate how fast investing and saving can make you a millionaire, figure the cost of paying minimum credit card payments, and compare renting a home versus having mortgage debt


Learn about activities involved in making goods and services known; communicating with potential and current consumers through advertising, promotion, and public relations; see also: business resources

  • AdAge: Advertising Age magazine; news, analysis, information, and data on advertising, marketing and media; site includes news, demographics, columns, blogs, podcasts, and white papers
  • AMA: American Marketing Association; professional associations for marketers; information, knowledge sharing and development in the marketing profession; Web site includes best practices, case studies, webcasts, articles and reports, and a dictionary of marketing terms
  • Web Marketing: ecommerce, email, Internet marketing; annotated links to articles and resources; articles from current and past issues of Web Marketing Today, Web Marketing Today Premium, and Doctor Ebiz; Wilson Internet Services
  • WOMMA: Word of Mouth Marketing Association; consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications; site includes library of information including case studies; related concepts include viral, buzz, grassroots, street team and other types of marketing in which the consumer is active or activated

Top of the Web Society

Learn about activities involving human social organization, expression, and communication


Locate information about governments at various levels; includes information sources about the United States, governments around the world, and multi-national governmental bodies

  • portal to information about the United States Federal government (or state or tribal government); links to government departments and agencies; reference center on data, statistics, forms, laws, regulations, and multimedia; government contact information; includes tourist information; formerly called; this is the U.S. government's official web portal and is provided by the Office of Citizen Services and Communications, U.S. General Services Administration
  • GovSpot: directory of government information; breakdown of government information sources including links to official Web sites; coverage of US federal, US states, and world governments; includes information on news, reference information, justice, military, money, science, world affairs, politics; well-organized and comprehensive as well as easy-to-use interface
  • Political: directory of online political and governmental sites; sorted by country; links to parties, organizations, governments, media; useful to quickly find official Web sites for countries or political parties in those countries
  • Nations: Nations of the World; list of world countries with country pages giving links to official Web sites for executive, judicial, and legislative branches and legal guides and sources; from the Law Library of Congress
  • Intl Orgs: International organizations and groups; section from CIA World Factbook


Find reports and perspectives about current events and issues; access sites that aggregate news from a variety of sources; these news portals offer a wide variety and of news items from many sources and thus less reliance on the editorial bias/spin of any one news source; some news portals offer customized news pages, advanced searches, blog searching, or user comments

  • Google: News; aggregates news stories from thousands of sources; clean design is easy to browse; customizable; the computer algorithm to choose and order news items was written by human developers who thus define the selection and placement of stories on the news service Web pages
  • PressReader: world-wide headlines and front pages; view news by category as well as country; click on a country name, and you can see images of newspaper pages; click on the pages to read articles
  • Drudge: Matt Drudge's picks for top news; includes a generous collection of links to news sources and columnists; Drudge pioneered the online "Citizen Journalist" ethos and his page has played a big role in showing the way for integrated online news presentation for more than a decade--an amazing accomplishment for one man and one Web page
  • Topix: news for the world; find news or blog entries related to a topic, city, or zip code; advanced search allows you to fine-tune your search; hierarchical breakdown allows you to look at or link to news pages based on subjects or geographic areas; news sources include many wire services (e.g., Associated Press, Reuters, major newspapers) as well as blog entries


Locate educational resources, information, and activities involved with acquiring, developing, imparting knowledge or skills; includes resources for educators; emphasis on primary education, but some higher-education resources

  • Khan Academy: educational resources; anyone can use for free
  • Coursera: an education site partnered with universities and organizations worldwide; offer courses online for anyone to take, for free
  • World: Education World; resources for primary and secondary school educators covering teaching; lesson plans, articles written by education experts, and information on how to use technology in the classroom; a weekly E-zine publication, and searchable database of education links
  • Learner: Teacher Resources by Annenberg Media; resources and teacher professional development programming for K-12; video on-demand
  • CAUSE: association for managing and using information technology in higher education; this site includes a discussion of current issues, information about conferences, professional development, publications, information services, and collaborative alliances with other organizations; the focus is on the future of higher education in the information age


Explore the humanities: languages, history, literature, philosophy, and culture; see also: Art resources

  • MuseumStuff: Museums of the World; find museums online, educational links, interactive virtual exhibits, museum shops, specialized content for museum professionals; link directly to museums all over the world; search by museum name, city, region or topic
  • Gutenberg: electronic texts; stated purpose is "to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms a vast majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search;" electronic texts of literature, science, classics, drama, and fiction
  • IATH: Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities; expanding and exploring the role of information technology in humanities research; this site includes research reports, general publications, works in progress, and technical reports
  • Languages: I Love Languages; a comprehensive catalog of language-related Internet resources; connect here to resources to help you learn human languages as well as textbooks, commercial resources, and information on the study of languages
  • VoS: Voice of the Shuttle; directory of links in the humanities; topics range from General Humanities Resources and Anthropology to Science, Technology, & Culture, and Technology Of Writing; resources for teaching, reference, journals, publishers, and conferences


Locate information about human creative expression in visual, performance, language, or musical contexts; includes sites devoted to art practice as well as art appreciation and aesthetics; see also entertainment and humanities

  • Smithsonian: Art and Design; online, multimedia exhibits on topics in art and design covering many fields--from Architecture, Crafts, Folk Art, Decorative Arts, Film, Theater, TV, Writing, Literature, Graphic Arts, and more--as well as many regions and cultures including African, American, Asian and Pacific, and European
  • artnet: The Art World Online; covers artists, galleries, auctions, prices, markets, events, and a magazine
  • Artcyclopedia: Fine Art Search Engine; index of art sites, links to artworks and artists; references to sites on the World Wide Web where artists' works can be viewed online
  • WWArts: World Wide Arts Resources; covers art news, art history, contemporary artists, and galleries, museums, exhibitions, art for sale, arts schools, art agencies, film resources, theater resources, dance resources, and much more
  • IBDB: Internet Broadway Database; Broadway theatre information; records of productions; actor credits; what played at a particular theatre


Enjoy activities, performances, and information about entertainers; includes online, video, movies, books, theater, and music

  • Social Networks: Social networking sites; extending back to the 1970's, people have consistently used online tools to expand, extend, re-invent, and build social groups; social networking is truly the Internet's own native entertainment activity; many of the functionalities and traditions from decades ago have become cast in different interfaces that include features such as profiles, friend and relationship links, instant messaging, blogs, and Web-based email
  • Video: Online and on demand; video-sharing has become a major form of entertainment on the net; amateur and professionally-made films, television shows and segments, news reports, documentaries, skits, comedy, and slice-of-life reality clips are provided for viewing online and on demand
  • Audio: Streaming or demand; audio has become important as wireless Internet has become more available and people like to listen to streaming radio stations, genre-specific streaming content, or purchase music for downloading on personal audio players
  • Movies: Internet Movie Database; provides an extensive database of movies and television shows; a hypertext database of films, with cross-references by many fields, including genre, actors, actresses, years of release, studios, and locations; information on movie plots, quotes, ratings, dates, locations, business, critics, hyperlinks, official Web sites, reviews, and more; strength: breathtakingly well-done implementation, deep and broad content well cross-referenced
  • TV: TV Guide; some people still have television sets; this is a guide to entertainment in television shows and movies, music, and sports; links to reviews and guides; including complete television program schedule grids


Locate information about recreational activities; participatory sports and games, pastimes, hobbies, and travel

  • Active: participatory sports directory; individual sports, team sports, park and community activities; search and register online for events and activities
  • GORP: adventure travel and outdoor recreation; destinations, activities, parks, forests, preserves, adventures, and gear
  • Pogo: free online games; puzzles, word games, card games, board games, arcade and sports, freebie casino
  • Trip advisor: travel-related information; reviews and opinions of hotels, vacations; inside pages written by members
  • Sports: American College of Sports Medicine; resources about the benefits of physical activity for a variety of audiences including clinicians, educators, general public, researchers, and students
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