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Advanced Search Tips

Remember that while these search techniques apply specifically to Google, most other database search engines offer similar advanced search features:

Keywords: The more you use, the better your search will be. Google favors pages with your keywords in phrases, close together, and in the order typed. Use OR (in uppercase) to retrieve pages that include either word A or word B.  ("border wall" OR "border fence")


Phrases: By default, Google first returns pages where your words appear as a phrase.  To be more specific and precise, use quotations to require the exact phrase be found in all pages.  (“Mexican drug trade”)


Ignored Words: Google ignores common words or characters such as in, where, I, or how.  Use a + sign to include these keywords or use a phrase search.  (+the war +on drugs or “the war on drugs”)


Synonyms: Use a ~ sign immediately in front of a keyword to include its synonyms in the search. (~documentary Mexico security).  Exclude terms from the result list with a – (minus symbol): (drug trade mexico –California).


Searching All or Part of a Web Page: To limit a search to a particular site or domain type, use site: (site:www.loc.gov or site:.gov).  Use allintitle: or allinurl: to search for words in page headings or URLs (Mexico intitle:presidencia).


Linked Pages, and Page Information: Find similar pages, pages linked to the site, and other information with the command info:[URL] (info:www.http://www.cbp.gov). 


Cache: Most search results have a ‘cached’ link  – this displays what the page looked like the last time the search engine ‘spider’ looked at the page.  This is useful if the page has changed very recently or appears to be no longer available.  Also accessible using the command cache:[URL]


Number Ranges: Follow your search terms with a number range, separated by two periods.  Two periods in front or behind a number are treated as less than or greater than.   (“Mexican drug trade” 2005..2012 or ipod case” ..$30)

Additional Resources
Additional Resources
Google Advanced Search Tips site http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html - Has many of the tips we went over, plus more
Search Engine Watch http://searchenginewatch.com/ - news site covering search engines and search engine technology.
Ask a Librarian http://www.lib.utexas.edu/services/reference/ research help via chat, email, phone or in-person.
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AJ Johnson

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