Web Searching Tips

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Use more words

When you search the web, a one or two word search often will find hundreds of thousands of websites. To narrow your search and find more relevant web sites, think about your topic and how people might be writing about it. Then use at least three or four keywords or concepts in your search.

Search for phrases

If you can describe your topic with words that could also be used as a phrase, narrow your search by enclosing your phrase in quotations:

"nixon meets elvis"
"nuclear non-proliferation treaty"

Limit your search

Most search engines have advanced or expert features that allow you to limit your search. Search limits can vary depending on the features of the search engine you are using. A few common ways of limiting include:

Use search engine math

Many search engines allow you to use the plus sign (+) to require that a word be found on your search results. You can also use a minus sign (-) to exclude words from your search.

+"japanese american internment" +reparations

Use more than one search engine

Although Google is the most popular search engine, it is always a good idea to re-execute your search in a couple of other search engines. No single search engine is able to index all the billions of pages on the web. A more specialized search engine might also help you find information that another search engine has missed. For suggestions on search engines to use in academic research, see our recommended search engines.

For more detailed information about search tips for search engines, see Infopeople's Search Tools Chart or Search Engine Showdown's list of search engine features and search engine reviews.

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