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Magic in the Library

Search the Web Like A Pro

Basic Searching

With a few basic search strategies, you can find almost anything online. It doesn't matter if you're using Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or some other type of search engine; most of the techniques in this video are universal. Take a look, and find out how you can improve your web search skills. 

Anyone can "Google it", but that doesn't mean you’re Web savvy. Information literacy, or #digitalliteracy, is the ability to filter, evaluate, correctly use, and communicate information in today's digital world. Test your information savvy with this video!

Additional Search Techniques


Search Techniques
Remember every search engine is different. A command which works in one may not work in another. The following techniques enable you to refine searches. To search most efficiently, always find and click on the Help link or button that explains how to use the search engine.


Some search engines are case sensitive. Use capitalization only if you want to require a capitalized term in your results.
Golden Gate Bridge or John Steinbeck

word1 word2

Phrase Searching
Enclosing more than one word in quotations forms a phrase. The search tool retrieves only those sites which have that exact phrase in that exact order, which narrows your search.
“gun control”
“welfare reform”
“affirmative action”


Truncation / Wildcards 
In some search engines (but not Google) placing a symbol (usually 
*) after the first part of a keyword tells the search engine to look for any words beginning with those letters. Truncation broadens your search by allowing you to search for singular, plural, and variations of a word at the same time. Examples:
femin* retrieves feminine, feminist, feminism, etc.

+ / -

Require / Exclude Term
Typing a + immediately before a keyword (no space) tells the search engine "Bring me only the documents which contain that word or phrase." (Google no longer uses the + sign. To require a particular word or phrase when searching with Google, enclose the word or phrase in"   ".) Inserting a -  immediately before a keyword (no space) excludes all documents containing that word or phrase.
+bilingual +California +initiative requires that all 3 terms, in any order, be presented.
London -jack    says "Bring me pages about London, but not about the author Jack London."

Limit by domain

Limit your search to a particular Internet domain
One of the most powerful search engine features is the ability to restrict your search to websites at one Internet domain. For example, you could search for "space shuttle" challenger but only pages on the NASA website. (In some search engines: "space shuttle" challenger )


Boolean or Logic Operators
Boolean Logic involves using specific words to link multiple search terms in different ways. These operators may be used alone and with or without parentheses to create very precise searches. Check the online HELP link in the search engine you're using to determine if and how Boolean operators may be used.

AND requires all terms to be somewhere in records retrieved  (apples AND oranges)

OR allows either term to be present  (grey OR gray)

NOT/AND NOT exclude terms  (cookies NOT walnuts)  ... (london NOT "jack london")

NEAR requires terms to be within a certain number of words from each other (for example: young within 5 words of "in love")

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