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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

GLBL 499: Study Abroad Alternative Project

Resources for students researching how COVID-19 impacted study abroad destinations around the world.

Googling Like a Pro

We live in a time when many primary sources are PDFs, webpages, images, and social media posts. You cannot discover these with traditional academic research tools like library catalogs or databases, so knowing advanced Google search techniques is a valuable skill. As always, remember to critically analyze any information you discover. 

Using Advanced Search

Google's Advanced Search function is capable of more robust searching than the regular search. To access Advanced Search, click the Settings icon. Then, from the dropdown menu, select Advanced search.


The Advanced Search page might look intimidating, but remember, you do not need to fill out every field!


The first five fields give you different options for manipulating they keywords you want to search. 

  • All of these words performs a keyword search, which is what Google does normally.
  • This exact word or phase lets you specify words you want to keep together. Google will only return results with those words in that exact order.
  • Any of these words is a powerful tool because it enables you to specify alternate terms for the same concept. If you enter "jump bounce hop," Google will return any pages that contain "jump" or "bounce" or "hop." Only one words needs to be present.
  • None of these words will eliminate words from the search results. For example, if you are trying to search for the country Chad but many of the search results are about the TV show, you could try entering "television" or "tv" into this field.
  • Numbers ranging from lets you specify a range of numbers.

The remaining fields helps you narrow your results. Pay special attention to several in particular.

  • Language will prioritize results in the language you select over results in English. Alternatively, access your Google language settings directly.
  • Region narrows your results to websites in a specific country.
  • Site or domain allows you to limit your results to one website. Alternatively, you can enter just a domain, like ".gov" or ".edu," to only return results from those types of websites. You might want to try your topic country's domain. For example, many Russian sites have ".ru" domains.
  • File type lets you pick a file type. PDF is a good one to try if you are searching for gray literature.

Changing Your Region

If you change your region in your search settings, Google will return results localized to the area you are researching. Start by clicking the Settings icon and selecting Search settings from the dropdown menu.

Near the bottom of the page, pick a country to set as your region.

Click Save at the bottom of the page when you are finished.

Filtering by Date

You can narrow your Google results by date in Advanced Search, but Google gives you better date options if you select a date range directly from the search page. Select Tools, then click Any Time. From the dropdown, select the option you want. Often, you will want Custom, which lets you pick start and end days.

Pro Searching from the Search Box

You can implement many of the capabilities from Advanced Search without visiting the Advanced Search page. Google's Refine web searches page explains how to do this via certain symbols and words. Here are some we recommend.

Search for a price

Put in front of a number. For example: camera $400.

Search hashtags

Put in front of a word. For example: #throwbackthursday

Exclude words from your search

Put - in front of a word you want to leave out. For example, jaguar speed -car

Search for an exact match

Put a word or phrase inside quotes. For example, "tallest building".

Search within a range of numbers

Put .. between two numbers. For example, camera $50..$100.

Combine searches

Put "OR" between each search query. For example, marathon OR race.

Search for a specific site

Put "site:" in front of a site or domain. For example, or

Remember that websites in many countries often have country-specific identifiers in their URLs that can help you search. For example, Japanese URLs often include .jp. To search all these sites, try