How to Read a URL

Uniform Resource Locator - A URL describes how to access a specific online resource or piece of information.
Other related pages: Determining Source of a Web PageReading a URL , Domain Names , Whois , Traceroute.
 The programmer's File Format Collection, Filext - The file extension Source

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URL's typically have the following format:

[picture of...] protocol://

  1. "protocol://" - This defines what Internet protocol is required to reach the online resource. Commonly used protocols include:
  2. "" - The domain name of the server where the information is located (can also be the server's IP number) For more information, see my Domain Name Overview.  ( you may also want to read this article about domain names starting www)
  3. "/pathname/" - Usually consists of directory/subdirectory names. This defines where on the server's hard disk to look for the information.
  4. "filename.ext" - The name of the desired file. If no specific filename is indicated, a file called "index.html", "default.html", or "home.html" may be downloaded if present. The ".ext" file extension cues the web browser on how to handle the downloaded file. The web browser can display some file-types within the browser display area, or it may invoke additional software such as a "plug-in" or external "helper application" to handle the file. Common file extension names include:

Importance of Reading URL's As you access online information resources from all over the Internet, it is important to read the URL of the displayed information (This information is displayed near the top of the web browser)  The URL may be able to help you judge the value of the information. Consider the following examples :

  1. Which web page would you use to influence your business unit's strategic plan?
  2. Which software program would you like to download?
  3. Which site represented the Bob Dole election campaign?

The first two examples contain fictional URL's which clearly illustrate the variety of resources you may encounter. The last example contains actual URL's which show that URL's are not always a guarantee of authenticity (One site supported Bob Dole, the other was against him) To get into more details on how to determine the "true owner" of a web page, see: "How to Determine the Source of a Web Page"

Tip: You should get into the habit of reading the URL of every web page before you even glance at the web page.  URL's can also be used to decide which hyperlinks to select. While positioning your cursor over a hyperlink, the web browser will display (in the feedback area) the URL associated with the Hyperlink. This is a good way to "look before you leap"

Russ Haynal -  Internet Instructor and Speaker

Contact me at 703-729-1757 or  Russ 'at'  
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