7.6 Tips for Using Web Search Engines

1. Use Advanced Search if you are not comfortable entering Boolean operators or specifying limits.

2. Most search engines have search tools listed on the side of the search results; use that to filter/limit the search results to specify focus, types of sources, date range, etc.

3. Use Boolean search to expand and/or narrow down your search.

  • Google: AND is the default operator between search terms; use OR to expand your search, use - (minus sign) to exclude terms; Google does not support ( ).
  • Yahoo! Search supports AND, OR, NOT and ( ).

4. Except for Exalead (www.exalead.com/search/), most search engines do not support truncation; search terms are not case sensitive.

5. You can limit your search to more reliable domains, such as Web sites from government and educational institutes. Type site:.gov or site:.edu with your search terms. To search within a particular Web site, type the Web address right after site:

Example: financial aid site:www.butte.edu

6. Most search engines support phrase search. Use " " (double quotations) to make the search engine search the exact phrase for more relevant results.

Example: "California Education Policy Fund"

Example: global warming "Antarctic ice"

7. Use a + sign in Google and Bing to indicate an essential word to make sure all results contain that word. (No space between + and the search term)

For example, if you want to find information on the disposal of hybrid vehicle battery, you can search like this: hybrid vehicle battery +disposal

8. Use a - sign in Google to exclude an irrelevant word so that all the pages that contain that irrelevant word will not be retrieved. (No space between - and the search term)

For example, if you want to find information on games, but not computer games or video games, you can search like this: games -video -computer -online

9. In Bing, enter norelax before the fifth search term to specify that all the search terms are of same importance.

Example: wifi security airport hackers norelax: hotspot

10. Try these search engines:

Ask - www.ask.com

Exalead - www.exalead.com/search/

Bing - www.bing.com/

Next Chapter: 8. Taking Notes & Documenting Sources