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A Student Researcher's Guide to Google Searching: Google Advanced Search

List of commonly used commands

" "    Google will look up a phrase as one item if it is surrounded in quotes. Quotes are best used for pairs of words that don't frequently occur together. 

                  e.g. -- "solar industry"

     The minus sign is equal to saying "not" or "don't include this in the search results". 

                  e.g. -- diet soda -pepsi

*     The asterisk is sometimes known as the "wildcard". Use this if you're unsure of a word in a phrase

                 e.g. --  seven habits * people

OR Use OR if you are trying to search with more than one term and would like for one or both of the terms to be found. In Goole, OR must be capitalized for the search to work correctly.

                 e.g. -- rock OR roll

~  A tilde in front of a word will search among that word and its synonyms. Note that there is no space between the tilde and the word.

                 e.g. -- ~crime

AROUND(n) Searches for words that are within a certain range of other words. Must capitalize AROUND for this to work.

e.g. -- "steve jobs" AROUND(3) environment

Other Useful Search Functions

intitle  -- intitle:Louisiana hurricane

Google will serach for page titles with "Louisiana" and everywhere for "hurricane".

allintitle  -- allintitle:Louisiana hurricane

Google will serach for page titles with "Louisiana hurricane".

inurl -- inurl:illinois

Use to find pages from a specific organization based on their URL. Combining the above search term with, for instance, the word "engineering" will search URLs conatining "Illinois" for the term "engineering".

site -- site:de

Can be used to find pages by an organization, geographical region, or from a .org domain versus a .com. The above search will find German websites.

link --

The link feature finds pages containing links to a specific website. The above search, for example, will list all websites that link to

related --

Use related to find pages related to the page you are searching for. Can be an extremely effective way of finding new websites.

cache --

This operator will show an older, saved version of a website. If someone takes a webpage down you may be able to use cache to access a version of the page before it was changed.

filetype -- filetype:pdf

Searches for a specific type of file.

*Note the spacing of these examples. If a space is inserted between the command and the search term, the search will not work correctly.

Google Advanced Search

Because Google likes to keep its main search page as simple as possible, there is no quick way to access Google Advanced Search from the default Google search page.

To access Advanced Search, enter a search and click the gear icon, like the one below, on the right side of the results page. If you plan on using Advanced Search often, you may want to bookmark the Google Advanced Search URL.




The Advanced Search page contains these two colums, which offer alternatives to the search terms listed on the left side of this Libguide page. 



The "Last updated" field is one of the most useful functions on the advanced search page. This lets you find the newest thing published on a topic.

When searching for your query, Google will consider the order in which your search is worded, so that words that are close together in your search are more highly ranked in the results. This means you should enter your searches in the word order that makes the most sense for your search.

Searching Tips

Some basic facts


  • Every word matters. Generally, all the words you put in the query will be used.
  • Search is not case sensitive. A search for [ new york times ] is the same as a search for [ New York Times ].
  • While mostly ignored, there are some exceptions to punctuation.


Tips for better searches


  • Keep it simple. If you're looking for a particular company, just enter its name, or as much of its name as you can recall. If you're looking for a particular concept, place, or product, start with its name. If you're looking for a pizza restaurant, just enter pizza and the name of your town or your zip code. Many queries won't require advanced operators or unusual syntax. Simple is good.


  • Think how the page you are looking for will be written. A search engine is not a human, it is a program that matches the words you give to pages on the web. Use the words that are most likely to appear on the page. For example, instead of saying [ my head hurts ], say [ headache ], because that's the term a medical page will use. The query [ in what country are bats considered an omen of good luck? ] is very clear to a person, but the document that gives the answer may not have those words. Instead, use the query [ bats are considered good luck in ] or even just [ bats good luck ], because that is probably what the right page will say.


  • Describe what you need with as few terms as possible. The goal of each word in a query is to focus it further. Since all words are used, each additional word limits the results. If you limit too much, you will miss a lot of useful information. The main advantage to starting with fewer keywords is that, if you don't get what you need, the results will likely give you a good indication of what additional words are needed to refine your results on the next search. For example, [ weather cancun ] is a simple way to find the weather and it is likely to give better results than the longer [ weather report for cancun mexico ].


  • Choose descriptive words. The more unique the word is the more likely you are to get relevant results. Words that are not very descriptive, like 'document,' 'website,' 'company,' or 'info,' are usually not needed. Keep in mind, however, that even if the word has the correct meaning but it is not the one most people use, it may not match the pages you need. For example, [ celebrity ringtones ] is more descriptive and specific than [ celebrity sounds ].

Tips from the Google Search Help Center

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