"One hundred thousand lemmings can't be wrong."
NOTE: These tips will work with most search engines in their
basic search option.
- Use the plus (+) and minus (-) signs in front of words
to force their inclusion and/or exclusion in searches.
EXAMPLE: +meat -potatoes
(NO space between the sign and the keyword)
- Use double quotation marks (" ") around phrases to ensure
they are searched exactly as is, with the words side by side
in the same order.
EXAMPLE: "bye bye miss american pie"
(Do NOT put quotation marks around a single word.)
- Put your most important keywords first in the string.
EXAMPLE: dog breed family pet choose
- Type keywords and phrases in lower case to find both
lower and upper case versions. Typing capital letters will usually
return only an exact match.
EXAMPLE: president retrieves both president
- Use truncation (or stemming) and wildcards (e.g., *) to look for
variations in spelling and word form.
EXAMPLE: librar* returns library, libraries, librarian, etc.
EXAMPLE: colo*r returns color (American spelling) and colour (British spelling)
- Combine phrases with keywords, using the double quotes
and the plus (+) and/or
minus (-) signs.
EXAMPLE: +cowboys +"wild west" -football -dallas
(In this case, if you use a keyword with a +sign, you must
put the +sign in front of the phrase as well. When searching
for a phrase alone, the +sign is not necessary.)
- When searching within a document for the location of your keyword(s), use the
"find" command on that page.
- Know the default (basic) settings your search engine
uses (OR or AND). This will have an effect on how you configure
your search statement because, if you don't use any signs (+, -, " "),
the engine will default to its own settings.
- Know whether or not the search engine you are using maintains a
stop word list (see "Stop Words"
If it does, don't use known stop words in your search statement.
Also, consider trying your search on another engine
that does not recognize stop words.
- In Boolean searches, always enclose OR statements in
EXAMPLE: Yosemite (campgrounds OR reservations)
- Always use CAPS when typing Boolean operators in your
search statements. Most engines require that the operators
(AND, OR, AND NOT/NOT) be capitalized. Other engines will accept
either CAPS or lower case, so you're on safe ground
if you stick to CAPS.
EXAMPLE: "immune system" AND homeopathic (medicine OR
[NOTE: For more on Boolean searches, see Lesson 8]
Choose one of the EXAMPLES from above and try it as a search on Google's advanced search page.
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Last updated by E. Chamberlain, Thursday September 07, 2006