Skip to main content

Navigating the Web

Basic Searching

Here are Google's search tips:

  • Start simple - No matter what you're looking for, our motto is "keep it simple." Start by entering a basic name or word. If you're looking for a place or product in a specific location, enter the name along with the town or zip code.
  • Less is more - Simple, one or two word search terms will usually give you the broadest results. Start with short search terms, then refine your results by adding more words.
  • Don't worry about punctuation - Search ignores punctuation. This includes @#%^*()=[]\ and other special characters.
  • Ignore spelling - Google's spell checker automatically defaults to the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly.
  • Use web friendly words - A search engine works by matching the words you enter to pages on the web. So using words that are most likely to appear on pages will yield the best results. For example, instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that's the term a medical website would use.
  • Search with an exact phrase - Put quotation marks around words "[any word]" to search for an exact phrase in an exact order. Keep in mind that searching with quotes might exclude relevant results. For instance, a search for "Alexander Bell" will miss pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.
  • Use descriptive words - The more unique the word, the more likely you are to get relevant results. So [celebrity ringtones] is probably better than [celebrity sounds]. Keep in mind though, that even if the word has the correct meaning, if it's not the one most people use, it may not match the pages you need.
  • Don't worry about cases - Search isn't case sensitive. A search for new york times is the same as a search for New York Times.
  • Include or ignore words and characters in your search - Highlight common words and characters such as the and & if they are essential to your search (as in a movie or book title) by putting quotation marks "the" around them. You can also use the minus - sign to specify particular items you don't want in your results, like ingredients in a recipe.

Advanced Searching

Here are Google's search operators:

  • Search for an exact word or phrase - "search query" - Use quotes to search for an exact word or set of words. This option is handy when searching for song lyrics or a line from literature. [ "imagine all the people" ]
  • Exclude a word - -query - Add a dash (-) before a word or site to exclude all results that include that word. This is especially useful for synonyms like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal. [ jaguar speed -car ] or [ pandas -site:wikipedia.org ]
  • Include similar words - ~query - Normally, synonyms might replace some words in your original query. Add a tilde sign (~) immediately in front of a word to search for that word as well as even more synonyms. [ ~food facts ] includes results for "nutrition facts"
  • Search within a site or domain - site: query Include "site:" to search for information within a single website like all mentions of "Olympics" on the New York Times website. [ Olympics site:nytimes.com ]
  • Include a "fill in the blank" - query * query - Use an asterisk (*) within a query as a placeholder for any unknown or "wildcard" terms. Use with quotation marks to find variations of that exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of a phrase. [ "a * saved is a * earned" ]
  • Search for either word - query OR query - If you want to search for pages that may have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms. [ olympics location 2014 OR 2018 ]
  • Search for a number range - number..number - Separate numbers by two periods (with no spaces) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements. [ camera $50..$100]