Searching Efficiently

  • Phrases: enclose phrases in quotation marks. “gun control” will get you fewer hits than no quotation marks. Most engines otherwise would give you results that had those words, but possibly in entirely different paragraphs. Of all search tips, this is probably the most useful.
  • Use 2 to 6 terms (Google allows a maximum of 10)
  • Stop words: to be or not to be–all these are stop words in Google; use quotation marks or put a + sign in front of any word that must be included
  • Boolean Logic: Use AND, OR, NOT, NEAR to help refine a search. (Google defaults to and)
  • Using AND (Packers AND Super) between two words gets you fewer hits;
  • Using OR gets you more hits (children OR kids).
  • NEAR tells the engine you want both words, but close to each other.
  • NOT (or AND NOT) excludes words from consideration (Cherokee NOT jeep)
  • Capitalization: ignore it.
  • Puncuation: obsessive-compulsive and obsessive compulsive results in same number of hits; however, apostrophes do make a difference
  • Search within results: Go back and refine your search if you haven’t found what you need in the first 50 hits (some sources say in the first 10-20 hits!) at the bottom of the page, if you have a large number of hits
  • Advanced Search : in Google, limits domain, language, etc. Also provides a helpful form for keywords.
  • Keep a Search Journal so you know where you’ve been and where you need to go.