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Viewing Hints

Updated for the 9th Edition

If you are having trouble viewing any part of the site, there is also a troubleshooting page, though we recommend being familiar with this page first.

Site Features

This page provides tips to help you make the best use of the site as well as an introduction and link to help troubleshoot any problems you may be having. You can also read more about changes in the 9th Edition of the text as well as changes to the website for the 9th edition.

Selecting Your Edition

You can choose to view resources for the latest edition of the text (9th, 2014), as well as the 7th and 8th editions—and switch between them if needed. Simply click on the book cover icons in the header to change editions. The 9th edition is the "default." If you have cookies enabled in your browser, it will remember the last edition selection you made. Support for the 7th Edition will likely end once the 9th Edition is well established. Should this occur, advance warning will be given on the site.

Finding Information about Theories and Section Introductions

The heart of the site is the Theory Resources section, which provides links to an array of material, some from the Instructors Manual and other designed specifically for the website. You can view resources by type or by theory (which includes section introductions) in alphabetical order from the drop-down list. In View by Theory, once you have selected a theory, you can navigate forward and backward in the order in which material appears in the book.

To find resources by book layout, you may find it quicker to use the Table of Contents page, with links to Theory Resources.

You can also use the Theory List page, which provides a list of all theories covered in the selected edition or archived from previous editions. The Theory List can be sorted by theory name or theorist.

There is an Archive of theories no longer appearing as full chapters in the selected edition. These are PDF documents of the chapter from the last edition in which the theory appeared, linked from the Theory List or from the Archive button in Theory Resources.

The Text Compare button provides a listing of nearly 200 theories covered by A First Look and ten of the other leading texts in communication theory. The table is updated to the most recent edition of the included texts.

Self-Help Quizzes have been completely rewritten for the 9th edition by co-author Andrew Ledbetter (the McGraw-Hill site will use the same Self-Help questions for the 9th edition). You can also choose to view 10, 15 or all 20 of the questions for the selected chapter. Questions are always shuffled each time you start a quiz, so you will always get a different order.

PowerPoint® files for each chapter of the 9th edition were added to the site in January 2015. These are accessible to registered instructors who are logged in. We expect these to be especially helpful to instructors who are new to the text.

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Technical Notes

Accessing the Site on Different Devices

A growing number of users are accessing the site through tablets and smart phones. The 9th Edition upgrade works well on tablets we have tested. Modifications will be made as needed.

Browser Compatibility

The compatibility of browsers with web standards keeps improving, however Internet Explorer remains behind the others in arriving at true compatibility. We check the site in the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, tweaking code where possible for the most faithful display and best performance. We have found Chrome to be the most consistent and reliable browser and recommend it (or Firefox) for most users.

Always use the latest browser version your computer will support. The default browser settings should work, but if there are any problems with page display make sure that Javascript capability is enabled. Pop-up window support should not be needed.

Browser Caching

Most browsers try to be helpful by caching (storing) copies of pages, but on dynamic sites like afirstlook this can create problems. Chrome, in particular, can be annoying in its sometimes-tenacious hold on cached pages. If the site does not seem to be displaying what you expect—and Javascript is enabled—try refreshing the page (most browsers use a circular arrrow icon). See more about dealing with this issue on the Troubleshooting page.

Best practice is to bring up the site by entering the home page url ( in the address bar (rather than a search box) or using the home page or another reliable url in your Favorites list. Using search engines, while helpful to our search engine rankings, can bring up cached pages rather than the live site, which may not contain any changes to the site.


In 2013 we updated playback of the Conversation Videos, moving to MP4 files, which are now nearly universal. We retained an option to play the original Flash Video files in the 8th Edition version of the site in addition to a smaller MP4 file. For the 9th Edition, we are using only MP4 files, with the newest videos in HD format. The viewer has been redesigned for quicker access to the videos. We have also added the videos to a YouTube account, accessible through the link in the site header.

Note: videos may not play well on some public Wi-Fi networks. (You will notice the same problem with YouTube and most other videos, since the problem has to do with restricted bandwidth on some of these networks, and not the First Look site).

Browser Resolution and Text Size

These features were dropped with the update to the 8th edition, since the resolution of monitors (including most tablets) keeps increasing and all browsers now have native support for zooming (which is better than changing text size alone) and accessibility features.


When you see a printer icon on pages within the First Look site, it will print only the core content on that page, eliminating all of the navigation and other surrounding page elements, and printing the entire contents of a scrolling window.

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What You Should See

In order to assess any problems with your use of the site, it is helpful to know what to expect:

  • When you access the site initially (without using the Instructor Login) the main menu bar should contain four options: Book, Table of Contents, Theories and Theory Resources.
    • Edition selection. The specific content will vary with the edition you have selected, with some features available only in the latest edition. (See explanation above)
    • The Theory List defaults to an alphabetical list of theories, but can also be sorted by theorist, with links to the resources for that theory in the selected edition.
    • The Theory Resources page should show six red buttons (overview, outline, key names, primary sources, conversation video, and changes) and six green buttons (archive, application logs, movie clips, links, further resources, and self-help-quizzes).
  • After logging in, registered instructors should observe three things:
    • A welcome screen should appear after a successful login, showing your name and an option to change your password (useful after initial registration). If you do not see the full welcome window, go on to the troubleshooting page. Otherwise, select any of the available menu options.
      Login allows three attempts. If you inadvertently make mistakes and login fails, you can force another attempt by going to, otherwise you cannot try again until the session resets itself, which can take two hours or more.
    • Once back inside the site, the Book page should change to Instructors and
    • The Theory Resources page should now show five blue buttons in the middle of the list (discussion, exercises, PowerPoint, compare texts, and short answer quizzes).
  • If what you see does not match the above description, try refreshing your browser (see the Troubleshooting page for more details).

Troubleshooting Viewing Problems

Over time, site users have reported a number of issues in using the site. We have collected the most common of these, along with suggested solutions, in a separate Troubleshooting page.

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updated January 24, 2015