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For more information on the new NSF web site, please visit the What's New on NSF Web page.

Tips on Using the NSF Web Site

Many pages on the NSF site contain a standard menubar at the top for easy navigation. Use the NSF logo on the left side of the menubar to return to the NSF home page. The Site Map symbol on the right side of the menubar will take you to an extensive list from which you may select direct links to many NSF offices and services. The headings between the NSF logo and the Site Map symbol allow users with version 4.0 browsers or later to navigate through a series of drop down menus to select the exact page on the site that meets your needs. The dynamic menus can be toggled on or off by clicking on Customize at the bottom right of many of the pages on the NSF site. All users can click on a heading to go to a comprehensive menu page, which lists all of the topics available for that heading. The headings listed in the menubar also appear in the toolbar at the bottom of the page to provide users quick access to the most requested information on the site.


Search boxes appear on many top level pages. The heading above the search box indicates the scope of the search that will be conducted. Some search boxes will search only certain pages of the NSF site. For example, the search box on the biology overview page will only search biology pages for the terms submitted. To search the entire NSF web site, use the search box on the home page or go to the search page by clicking on the search option in the menubar at the top or toolbar at the bottom of most pages.

Online Document System
NSF's Online Document System includes all NSF documents (numbered publications) available in electronic formats (such as HTML, ASCII, and PDF). Documents can be searched for by document type, document number, text search, or date.

Custom News Service
NSF offers subscriptions to our publications and other documents through the Custom News Service. The Custom News Service is an email- and web-based alert service which notifies anyone with an interest in NSF news and documents when new publications are released. It is a “custom” service that lets you select the types of publications you want to know about. The Custom News Service alerts you to new documents on the NSF web site and provides a link to each document's location.

Users who prefer a text-only version of the NSF web site can generate one automatically using Betsie, the BBC Education Text to Speech Internet Enhancer. Betsie linearizes tables, translates ALT values, and removes JavaScript from web pages. In addition, NSF has customized Betsie to turn links to PDF files into links that translate the PDF files into HTML files using the Adobe Document Server. You can access the Betsie-generated version of our site at http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/access/parser.pl/www.nsf.gov or through a link at the top of the NSF home page available to screen reading devices.

Many pages on the NSF web site provide a link in the bottom right corner of the page for contacting NSF. To provide feedback to the Web Development Team contact the NSF Webmaster.


The NSF web site offers files in a variety of formats. These may include PDF, Word, Excel, MPEG and others. NSF provides links to plug-ins and viewers for all of the file formats available on our site.

PDF Files
PDF IconSome documents on the NSF web site are in Portable Document Format (PDF). These cross-platform documents allow users to view publications as they were originally formatted regardless of the platform, software, or configurations they are using to access the Internet. PDF files must be viewed using the Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded free from Adobe. For best results, make sure you are using Acrobat Reader version 3.0 or later.

ADS IconTo make PDF files accessible to users with visual disabilities, NSF is using the Adobe Document Server (ADS) to translate some PDF files into HTML pages that will be accessible to screen readers. PDF files that can be translated through NSF's ADS are identified by the symbol to the right of this paragraph. The ADS-generated HTML pages are provided specifically for screen reader use without concern for their visual appearance. If you encounter a PDF file on the NSF web site that does not have the ADS symbol, you can use the Betsie gateway at http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/access/parser.pl/www.nsf.gov to access the file through the text-only version of the NSF web site, which automatically uses ADS to translate PDF files into HTML.

Frequently Asked Questions
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