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Google : Using Google and Other Search Engines Effectively: Advanced Search Tips

Advanced Search Tips

Technique Function Example
" "
  • Search for an exact word or phrase by typing quotation marks before and after the word of phrase.
  • Note: Noun phrases are more helpful.
  • "primary education"
  • "electrical engineering"
  • "behavior therapy"

  • Exclude word(s) in results by adding a dash (-) before the word(s). This is particularly useful when you are getting results that are not related to your search, but have the same name as your search term.


  • "behavior modification" -"behavior therapy"
  • Search within a specific website, or limit search to URLs with a specific ending.
  • site:gov (limits to government websites)
  • site:edu (limits to education or academic institutions)
  • (searches the Auraria Library website)
  • Searches only for a particular type of document or file.
  • filetype:pdf (limits to PDFs)
  • filetype:doc (limits to Word documents)
  • filetype:ppt (limits to PowerPoints)
  • Use an asterisk (*) directly after a word to include a broader range of results. This will include all of the stem endings for the word.
  • teen* finds teen, teens, teenager, teenaged, teenagers
  • socio* finds sociology, sociological, socioeconomics, sociometrics
  • Include synonyms of the search term by adding a tilde sign (~) in front of the word.


  • Return results: neurophysiology, neurobiology, brain, neurology

PsycINFO ~tutorial

  • Return results: PsycINFO help, PsycINFO guide
  • Does a range search. Enter the two desired numbers separated by an ellipsis (…).
  • $250...$500 laptops = Find laptops that cost between $250 and $500)
  • anthropology milestones 1950...1970 = Find milestones in anthropology that happened between 1950 and 1970
  • Search for a specific patent by entering patent + number.
  • patent 1234567

Author Search

  • Enter the author's name in quotes "An Chomsky"
  • Use initials for the first and/or middle names, since many academic authors use initials only.
  • Use author: then enter the author's name.
    • author:"An Chomsky"
  • Enter other forms of the authors name
    • "An chomsky" OR "N Chomsky" OR "Noam Chomsky" OR "Avram Noam Chomsky"

Boolean Logic

Boolean Logic allows you to combine keywords to make a search more precise. The three terms are: AND, OR, NOT.

AND - Narrows a search

Example: medial collateral ligament AND therapy: Retrieves articles with both medial collateral ligament and therapy.

OR - Expands a search

Example: medial collateral ligament OR mcl: Retrieves articles with just medial collateral ligament, just mcl, and articles with both medial collateral ligament and mcl.

NOT - Removes a term from a search

Example: medial collateral ligament NOT mcl: Retrieves articles with medial collateral ligament, but remove all articles with any mention of mcl. Use NOT sparingly because you often lose many useful articles.