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Google : Using Google and Other Search Engines Effectively: Home


Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are great places to find information. This guide has some tips and tricks that you should know about in order to find relevant AND reliable sources on the open web. Be sure to evaluate the sources you find before using them for your research or project.

Before You Search

Related Research Guides

Best Practices

Searches are not case sensitive.

  • Keywords may be entered in lower or upper case or a combination of both.
    • Science, science, or SCIENCE produce the same results.
  • Exception: Boolean operators
    • Boolean Operator: OR
      • OR must be in capital letters.
      • Pipe symbol | may be used instead of OR
      • Find apartments in Boulder or Westminster = Apartments Boulder OR Westminster = Apartments Boulder | Westminster
    • Boolean operator AND is assumed; however, there is no harm in adding it.
      • Find apartments in Boulder and Westminster = Apartments Boulder Westminster = Apartments AND Boulder AND Westminster
    • For more info about Boolean operators, see the Advanced Search Tips page.

Word order matters.

  • Google ranks the first word slightly higher than the second, the second slightly more than the third, etc.
    • music math shows slightly different results from the search math music
  • Think of a couple of keywords for your topic. Start with the most important word or phrase. Start with 2-8 words, too few words may give poor results. You may need to try different searches.  

Google ignores most punctuation and symbols. Exceptions:

  • Dollar sign when used to indicate price.
    • canon $400 gives different results than canon 400.
  • Underscore or hyphen when used to connect words.
    • brother-in-law
  • Symbols when used to convey meaning such as a programming language (C++), musical terms (G#), etc.

Google uses automatic word stemming for common endings.

  • This includes plural forms as well as verb tenses; however, it does not include more complicated endings.
    • If you search for diet, Google will search for diets and dieting.
    • If you search for sociology, Google will not search for sociological, sociolinguistics, etc. Use the Boolean operator OR to search for all

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