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How to Use Google More Effectively

Boolean operators, site searches, & country internet codes are just a few of the things we cover to help improve your searches.

Search Tips

Below you will find various ways to refine your searches. Although these are intended for use in Google, they will most likely work in other search engines and some databases as well.


This page is adapted from Google's "Better Searches, Better Results" handout. The original is available at the link below.

the Boolean operator "and"

What it does: Searches for web pages that include two terms or phrases

What to type: Aruba AND vacation

What you'll get: Results with the word "Aruba" and the word "vacation"


the Boolean operator "or"

What it does: Searches for web pages that include either word

What to type: vacation London OR Paris

What you'll get: Results with the word "vacation" and either "London" or "Paris"


the Boolean operator "not"

What it does: Removes a term from a search

What to type: France NOT Paris

What you'll get: Results related to France, but not about Paris


*NOTE: The Boolean "NOT" does not work in a general Google Search. To exclude words or terms from our Google search you will want to use the "Advanced Search" function. It does work in most database searches, which is why we included it here.

quotation marks

What it does: Searches for an exact phrase or pairing of words

What to type: "New England"

What you'll get: Results with the phrase "New England" 

minus sign

What it does: Excludes search results with a particular word or phrase

What to type: bass -fishing

What you'll get: Results about bass that are not related to fishing

tilda

What it does: Searches for a word and all of its synonyms

What to type: ~mobile phone

What you'll get: Results with the word "phone," as well as "cell," "cellular," "wireless," etc...

the word or

What it does: Searches for web pages that include either word

What to type: vacation London OR Paris

What you'll get: Results with the word "vacation" and either "London" or "Paris"

ellipses

What it does: Searches for a range of numbers

What to type: Frida Kahlo 1930...1940

What you'll get: Results about Frida Kahlo during this time period

@ symbol
What it does: Searches social media

What to type*: @twitter Boston

What you'll get: Twitter posts that include the word Boston


* This works for any social media site (Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter, etc...)

asterisk
What it does: Searches for a missing or unknown term

What to type: "Beauty and the *"

What you'll get: Results that start off "Beauty and the" and are followed by various terms, such as "Beauty and the Beast"


To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.