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RSS Feeds

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It's an easy way for you to keep up with news and information that's important to you, and helps you avoid the conventional methods of browsing or searching for information on websites. Now the content you want can be delivered directly to you. This content is called a "feed." This feed is also referred to as RSS Feed, web feed, channel.

RSS is written in the Internet coding language known as XML (eXtensible Markup Language).

What is an RSS Reader?

An RSS reader is a small software program that collects and displays RSS feeds. It allows you to scan headlines from a number of news sources in a central location.

There are different versions of RSS Readers; some are accessed using a browser, and some are downloadable applications. Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer. Downloadable applications, on the other hand, let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your email using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail.

Where Can I Get an RSS Reader?

Some browsers, such as the current versions of Firefox, Opera and Safari have built in RSS readers. They can automatically check for RSS feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to RSS feeds much easier.

If you're using a browser that doesn't currently support RSS, there are a variety of RSS readers available on the web; some are free to download and others are available for purchase. The links given below will help you find more information on RSS readers on the web. We do not recommend or endorse any reader in particular.

How Do I Use RSS Feeds?

The first step is to choose an RSS reader. Each reader has a slightly different way of adding a new feed. Please follow the directions for your specific reader. The instructions given here reflect the case in most RSS readers:

  1. Click on the link or small XML button near the feed you want. You'll see a page displaying XML code.
  2. From your web browser's address bar, copy the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). On this website you can find the following feeds:
  3. Paste the copied URL into the "Add New Feed/Channel" section of your chosen reader. The RSS feed will start to display and regularly track the updates on a web site.

Technical Support for RSS Readers

NIH OD/OCPL is unable to provide support for RSS readers or to test our feeds with a specific reader. Users interested in using this technology or who need technical support should contact  his or her computer support staff.

If, however, you believe there is a problem with the RSS feed itself, please contact

This page last reviewed on March 24, 2011

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