About RSS Feeds

What is a news feed?

A news feed is a way of letting you know when new content has been added to a Web site. Such web content is syndicated, which means that it is sent out to anyone wishing to subscribe (the original name for this technology, RSS, stands for Really Simple Syndication). An increasing amount of web content is published in a format that allows you to subscribe to it as a feed (such as MSKCC Library Blog), so the opportunities to monitor new web content are expanding all the time.

In order to monitor news feeds, you will need to set up a news reader. A news reader collects and manages the feeds you subscribe to, so you can monitor them all in one place.

Setting up a news reader

News readers are so common now that they are often built in to web browsers or part of the package of applications you get with a Hotmail, Google, or Yahoo email account. Commonly used readers include Google Reader and Bloglines.

(Tip: when setting up feeds, make sure you are using a current version of your browser: Internet Explorer version 7.x or above; Mozilla Firefox 3.0.x or above; Safari 3.2.x or above.)

Rather than using a web-based reader, you can also download reader software to your computer (client software). You might want to explore this list of readers. Library staff strongly recommend you use Google Reader. If you want to find out more about this reader, we invite you to attend the Library’s class on Google: Optimizing Your Search Strategies, where you can learn how to get the most out of your web search and see how to set up news feeds.

Subscribing to a feed

As you surf the web, look around on the sites you visit for this icon: ,
or icons like these:

Instead of an icon you might also see a text link such as: “RSS Feed,” “XML RSS Feed,” “Atom Feed,” or “RSS.” If you see one of these icons or links on a site, it means that a feed is available, and if you subscribe to it, you can view that site’s newly added content using your news reader.

In general, the procedure for adding a feed is to click on the feed icon or link, and then copy the web address (URL) of the resulting page, then go to your reader, look for an option to add a subscription, and paste in the web address that you copied. Web sites that offer RSS feeds often have quick links to some of the most commonly used news readers, so that you can quickly add the feed without copying the web address ( make sure you already have your reader open.)

Now that you have set up a news reader and you know how to subscribe to a feed, you are ready to add feeds from MSKCC Library Spotlight.


If you click on the icon or link to a feed and do not get a page with a web address (for example, you might be prompted to choose an application to open), then try upgrading to the latest browser version, or try a different browser. If you still have difficulty, please contact us with your questions and comments.