Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ESL Undergraduate Student Guide

A guide to support international students in ESL 112 and 115 and beyond.

Using Google

Google can be a great resource, but it can also provide too much information. Some of this information may not be relevant to your topic. Applying the strategies suggested below can result in a Google search that is much more focused and relevant. 

Search Google More Effectively

Get more from Google

Smarter searching = more results.

Google has billions of results for so many searches...but you can narrow down your results to what you want with these easy tricks:

  • ~ searches the word you want, plus synonyms or alternatives, for example, ~children.
  • " " searches what's inside as a phrase, rather than separate words, for example, "childhood obesity."
  • - what follows the minus is NOT included in the search, for example, -adults.
  • site: searches only pages from that site or type of site, for example,

Google gives more than just website results. Search for definitions by adding "define:" before the word you want. Like a specific search result? Get more like it by using "related:" and the webpage from your first search to see more like it.

You can always use Google's Advances Search, too:

Remember, keep it simple! Try the fewest words possible to start. For more tips, check out Google Advanced Search Guide

Google Search Tips (VIDEO)