Answered By: Kathryn Park
Last Updated: May 13, 2015     Views: 11

Google is so easy to use--you don’t have to be an expert to get great search results. But there are some top tips that will help get rid of the stuff you don’t want: 

  1. Quotes
    Use quotes around any set of words sought as a phrase (these words in this order). This is especially useful when searching for proper names so you don’t get results where the two words are on the page but unrelated. 
    Example: Compare Gerald Ford to "Gerald Ford"

  2. Exclude
    - can be used to exclude terms.
    Example: Compare Matisse to Matisse –network.

  3. Synonyms & OR
    Use synonyms--try to think of several different ways that your search term or concept could be stated. Combine the terms with or. Or must be in caps or it is ignored.
    Example: Compare multicultural to multicultural OR cultural diversity.

  4. Search Within Results
    A little known or used feature is Google’s Search Within Results. When you get millions of hits from a search and you want to narrow it down, just go to the bottom of your results page, select Search Within Results, type in an additional word or phrase to make your results more specific and voilà, now you have fewer results to look through!
    Example: Compare Hawaii to results within: big island.

  5. Site Search
    Did you know that you can restrict your search to just one specific site? This kind of search comes in handy when you are pretty sure the information exists on a site, but you can’t find it. To use it, enter your search tem(s) and site:sitedomain.
    Example: Compare "mla style" to "mla style" site:libguides.com.edu.

  6. Specialized Searches
    Use the specialized searches. Most of them are right there above the search box and they can really save you time: Images, Video, News, Maps, and more. Selecting any of these will narrow down your search to just images, videos, etc. For more specialized searches and other features, go to More Google Products.

  7. Use the Search Tools
    Search Tools will appear on your results page after you've searched. With them you can narrow down your search to maps, videos, books, social and much more. It's a great time saver.

Our Google Libguide (link below) can give you more tips for searching and give you a good overview of many other useful Google features. We also have How to Use Google Books, Magazines, News Archives and How to Use Google Scholar.

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