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How to Subscribe to RSS Feeds: RSS Feeds

What is RSS?

Depending on who you ask, RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication, or RDF Site Summary.

Instead of manually visiting each site to see if there is anything new, the updates are sent to your reader, where you can keep track of them in one place. They are spam-free, and easy to manage.  The process is explained extremely well in the video, RSS in Plain English.

This gives you a quick and simple way to keep up with:

  • new journal articles/table of contents alerts
  • news items
  • new matches for saved database searches
  • blogs

How to Find and Add RSS Feeds

Many databases or web sites display a small icon to show that a feed is available. Look for these icons:

For web sites in Firefox, the RSS icon will sometimes appear in the address bar:


Some web sites have feeds but may not make them easy to find. Here are some tips to locate these feeds:

  • Try to search that site plus RSS using search engine
  • On the home page of a site, try to search RSS using CTRL-F
  • Some pages use the terms Atom or Subscribe instead of RSS so search for these terms


After clicking on the icon or subscribe link:

  • In Firefox, you will be taken to a page where you can select your reader from a list. 
  • In IE, depending on how you set your Internet Options and the RSS source, you may be given a list of common feed readers.
  • In Chrome, you will be taken to the HTML RSS list.  Copy and paste the URL into your feed reader.
  • In Safari 5 (the latest version available for Windows) RSS feeds display automatically and can be bookmarked.  In Safari 6 (the latest version for Mountain Lion on MAC) an extenion and additonal feed reader must be installed.  
  • If your reader is not listed in Chrome, Firefox, or IE, copy the web address, go to your reader, add a feed and paste in the web address.

How to use RSS

To use RSS you will need to set up a feed reader.  Feed readers pull content from multiple sources and provide the information in one area.

Step 1: Sign up for a feed reader/aggregator

There are many different RSS readers available. Some are web-based (e.g. Bloglines, Google, as well as numerous apps).

Some are built into browsers.




And others are accessible through email accounts (i.e. Outlook)








Step 2: Subscribe to feeds

Once you have signed up for a reader, you can add or subscribe to feeds.

Below are links to help pages that include detailed steps on how to use some popular RSS feed readers:

Getting Started with Google Reader