Return to Search Syntax and Operations
Boolean AND: Narrows your search to include documents that contain BOTH keywords.
Boolean OR: Broadens your search to include ANY of the keywords.
- Use for alternative spellings such as Chanukah OR Hanukkah.
- Use for common misspellings such as Klu Klux Klan OR Ku Klux Klan.
- Some systems assume OR, so religious beliefs may be treated as religious OR
Boolean NOT: Narrows search by excluding one meaning of a word.
- cowboys BUT NOT Dallas
- Gold Rush AND NOT Alaska
Nesting: By combining Boolean words with parenthesis, you can perform multiple tasks at once.
- Saturn AND (car OR automobile) is useful for synonyms
Truncation: Searches on the root of the word adding different word endings or plurals.
- Educat* searches educator, education, educational, educated.
- Colo*r would find documents that contain color and colour.
- Some engines truncate automatically, so tribe may also retrieve tribes and
- Other engines recognize that the plural tribes should also retrieve the variants
tribe and tribal.
Controls: By adding + or - in front of a word you are saying that the word MUST
or MUST NOT be included in the "hits," another name for the results of your search.
- Vitamin +A = you want only that vitamin
- bass -music = you want the fish not the instrument
Phrase: Searches a phrase or words that have a unique meaning when linked:
- "Wounded Knee" - quotes refer to two different historical
events involving Indians
- Michael FOLLOWED BY Jackson
- (New Orleans) - parenthesis indicates that search must include
common word "new"
- Some engines treat two words together as Bill OR Clinton
- Engines may not recognize certain punctuation, so sex education returns hits on
health curriculum and hits with the commonly used phrase "sex, education and
income." In this case if you add NOT income to sex education your
search will retrieve better results.
Proximity: Searches one word nearby another word.
- tribal gaming
- Indian NEAR casinos
- Some engines such as IxQuick recognize capital letters:
Newt or newt (the politician and the salamander)
- Others like AltaVista require quotes to maintain the capitalization:
"AIDS" or aids (the disease and the verb)
Searching Specific Fields: Searches only specific parts of web pages, such as
the words on the browser's title bar (the document's title) or the URL
- The search title:sunset would find pages with sunset in the title.
- Use url:garden to find all pages on all servers that have the word garden
anywhere in the host name, path, or filename.
Use Other Search Options
Google Advanced Search
allows you to search by language, file format, date, domain, similar pages,
pages that link to the page.
Relevance: The engine calculates how well the hits matches your search request
and ranks them in order of relevance.
- Pages which have your keywords in the heading or first paragraph are ranked high.
- Pages in which your keywords appear frequently are ranked high.
Query by Example: The engine has an option of asking for similar pages when you find a good hit.
- Related Pages for www.nissan.de yields Nissan sites in other countries, as
well as sites for Toyota, Mazda and Mercedes-Benz.
Having trouble forming your search?
Use Many Terms: strawberry banana yogurt smoothie
Natural Language: When it is hard for you to design your search precisely, some
engines allow you to ask for information as if you were thinking aloud.
- I want to know about the treaties that Native Americans made when they went to
reservations is treated as treaties AND Native Americans AND reservations.