This is the "Google Search Basics" page of the "Google" guide.
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Tips for getting the most out of your Google searches and other Google tools.
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Google Search Basics Print Page

When Google is not enough

This guide will introduce you to many of the ways Google and its associated tools are very useful for different types of searches. However, Google and the open web (all of the sites you can access freely on your Internet browser) are no substitute for library resources. Most (if not all) academic research requires the use of authoritative and scholarly sources found in library databases (and in your campus library). Check out the other Ask Today Research Guides for more info on library resources and contact the librarians with your research and library questions!


Search Tips & Shortcuts

Google ( is an easy-to-use search engine and many of us are regular users (librarians included!). Here you are some tips to help you get the results you want--and fast:

  • Use quotations marks (" ") around sets of words to search for them as an exact phrase. This is useful for proper names and phrases where it the word order is important. Keep in mind that phrase searching can also make you miss relevant results. If you search "Harry Truman," you could miss pages that only refer to "Harry S. Truman." 
  • Use the minus sign (-) to exclude search results with a particular word or phrase. Example, apple -fruit to exclude any results that are about the fruit and not the company. 
  • Use the site: operator to limit your search to specific sites. Example, (to limit results to only sites with an .edu domain) and (to limit results to only those from the NPR site).
  • Combine the site: operator with a minus sign to exclude specific sites. Example, diabetes
  • Search for synonyms and related terms with OR. This will search for webpages with either word. Example, global warming OR climate change. 
  • Use the define: operator to locate definitions. Example, define:peer review. The first results will be links to definitions of peer review. This is a great way to find the definitions to words or phrases!


More Tips & Tricks from Google, like did you know that you can ignore punctuation? No need to ask Google a question like: where is the best pizza in Chicago? Google search ignores special punctuation like ?@#%^*()=[]\.  You can find other tips by using the menu on the right hand side of the page if you click on the link with tips & tricks from Google.

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Google's YouTube Channel

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Google's YouTube channel is a great place to learn about search features and news about their other products.

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