Advice about the Web

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Publications and Literature Searches

Your Web Pages
  • Eschew anything but solid backgrounds on your web pages.
  • When you download stuff from the web, give appropriate credit. Provide a link to the source.
  • Your web pages are you, but they are also your curriculum vitae. An applicant's homepage is a prime check point for the modern employer.
  • The de facto location for astronomers to publish their home and possibly other pages is the Astroweb. Unfortunately the Astroweb submission form is rather poorly designed. If you submit your home URL on the Astroweb form, then note that:
    • `Descriptive string' means your institution (e.g. JILA).
    • For `Category', use personal (don't choose a secondary classification, even if you are interested in other_astronomy, etc.).
    • `Enter a Description...' is what will appear beside your name, so look at what other people have written, and choose what you want, which for many people is nothing.
    • `Enter Optional comments...' is apparently a note to the webmaster, so don't put anything there.

Search Engines
  • Learn some search syntax. Most search engines use `or' as the default for multiple word searches, whereas most people intend `and'.
  • Search engines are not all equal. This is Phil Gibbs' guide to search engines.
  • If the needle in the haystack eludes you, try Devon Jacobs' Dogpile Search Engine , which cycles through all the search engines there are.

Making Graphics
  • The web is a wonderful graphic medium. But as a scientist, your graphics should be pertinent, not gratuitous.
  • GIFs are good for line drawings, contour plots, cartoons. JPEGs are good for photographs.
  • I make GIF animations with gifmerge.
  • Want to know all the colors available on the web? Here's a colormap.


  • Check the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) plan for HTML Math.
  • Read Paul Pollack's info on math and HTML.
  • HTML does not know (much) mathematics, but it can set simple equations, such as

    E = m c2 .

  • In accordance with the usual mathematical convention, you should use italics abc (<i>abc</i>) for variables, bold italics abc (<b><i>abc</i></b>) for vectors, and normal roman font for units. Do not use the <var> tag for variables; Netscape sets abc (<var>abc</var>) in italics, but Microsoft Explorer sets it in a fixed font.
  • Does abc (<font face="symbol">abc</font>) look greek to you? Then your browser recognizes a symbol font. If not, then check TeX2HTML for advice on enabling the symbol font for a Mac or for Unix running X. Unfortunately, the fact that your browser can recognize symbols does not mean that the rest of the world's browser can.
  • Does italic vee v look like greek nu n, or italic wye y look like greek gamma g? Probably. Pity.
  • Does abc (<font face="symbol"><i>abc</i></font>) look like greek italics? Probably not. Pity.
  • Check out Geometry Technologies, Inc.'s WebEQ, which uses Java to emulate HTML mathematics, and is free to students and faculty of educational institutions.

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Updated 6 Mar 1998