Searching Google

Help your students find relevant, reliable information.

General Search Tips


Note: When you search using operators or punctuation marks, it's best not to add any spaces between the operator and your search terms. A search for will work, but site: won't.

1. Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

This one’s a well-known, simple trick: searching a phrase in quotes will yield only pages with the same words in the same order as what’s in the quotes. It’s one of the most vital search tips, especially useful if you’re trying to find results containing a specific a phrase.

2. Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown or variable words

Here’s a lesser known trick: searching a phrase in quotes with an asterisk replacing a word will search all variations of that phrase. It’s helpful if you’re trying to determine a song from its lyrics, but you couldn’t make out the entire phrase (e.g. “imagine all the * living for today”), or if you’re trying to find all forms of an expression (e.g. “* is thicker than water”).

3. Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words

You’ll want to eliminate results with certain words if you’re trying to search for a term that’s generating a lot of results that aren’t of interest to you. Figure out what terms you’re not interested in (e.g. jaguar -car) and re-run the search.

4. Search websites for keywords

Think of the “site:” function as a Google search that searches only a particular website. If you want to see every time mentioned Google, use the search “Google”.

" space"

" pluto"

5. Search for a number range

Separate numbers by two periods without spaces (..) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and $50..$100 Tip: Use only one number with the two periods to indicate an upper maximum or a lower minimum.

Search for information about WWII between the years 1941 and 1942 "WW2 1941..1942"

6. Compare things using “vs”

Can’t decide between a burger or pizza for dinner? Type in “burger vs. pizza,” for example, and you’ll receive side-by-side comparisons of the nutritional facts.

7. Search by file type

Have you ever needed a worksheet but want it to be in PDF format? Try typing what you are looking for followed by a colon then the file type (eg. Math worksheet:PDF)

More Advanced Ways Search