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Google Search Tips: Getting Started

Before you search

  • Determine what you're looking for.
  • Choose as many descriptive words as needed.
    • Too few words may give poor results.
    • Select nouns to avoid stop words.
  • Explore Search Settings to set your Google preferences.
  • Learn about the Google Toolbar. Download here.

Google search conventions

  • Searches are not case sensitive. 
    • Keywords may be entered in lower or upper case or a combination of both. Math, math, MATH  
    • Exception: Boolean operator OR
      • Find apartments in Cambridge or Arlington          
        Apartments Cambridge OR Arlington      
        OR must be in caps.
      • Pipe symbol may be used instead of OR               
        Apartments Cambridge | Arlington
    • Boolean operator AND is assumed
      • Find apartments in Cambridge and Arlington         
        Apartments Cambridge Arlington
  • Word order matters.
    • Google ranks the first word slightly higher than the second, the second slightly more than the third, etc.
      • music math (results are slightly different from the search math music)
  • 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
      • end_of_file
    • Symbols when used to convey meaning such as a programming language (C++), musical terms (G#), etc.
  • Google uses automatic word stemming.
    • Google does not allow wildcards to be used for variable ends of words.
    • Instead, Google searches for all possible word variations.
      • Diet returns diets dieting dietary

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