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When you're having trouble finding the information you're looking for, you can sometimes get better results by implementing more advanced search techniques. Now, most search engines let you use what are referred to as Boolean search terms. Basically, they allow you to perform a search, but to exclude certain results or to search only for certain results. Depending on the search engine, Boolean searching can involve using words like 'and,' 'or,' and 'not' within your searches or in the case of Google, using special characters like the Plus symbol, minus, the tilde and the like. But instead of having to remember how to use those terms and special characters, it's much easier to go to Google.com and then click on the Advanced Search link.
This takes you to a page on which you can perform highly refined searches. You can use any combination of the fields you see here. For example, I want find web pages that include the words 'tree,' 'fur,' and 'needles.' So I'll type "tree fur and needles" with a space between them into the field, all these words. This means I'll only see results from pages that contain all three of these words and not just one or two of them. Or if I wanted to search for an exact phrase, I would type into the second field.
This is similar to searching for a phrase within quotes. You also have the option of searching for pages that contain one or more of your selected words. So if I typed "tree," "fur," and "needles" into these fields, Google would show me pages that contain at least one of those words, but I'm just going to delete those for now. Next, you have the option of excluding certain words. Maybe in this case I want to find pages that have the words tree, fur and needles, but not the word evergreen. Notice that my search parameters up here at the top of the screen and that the word evergreen appears with a Minus symbol in front of it.
This is showing you what would type if you were going to do this search manually from Google's homepage or from your browser's search bar. Basically this is teaching you the correct syntax for this search. Next, you have options to specify how many results you want to be listed per page, what specific language you want to search for and whether you want specific file formats like PDF documents, Word files, and so on. You can even restrict your search to a specific web site. This is a great tool if you're looking for information on a particular site. Maybe in this example, I'll limit my search to just Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Again, notice the syntax at the top of the page. To search a specific site, you type site: followed by the web site's address. And for even more advanced searching tools, you can click Date, Usage rights, Numeric range, and more. As you can see, you can really get quite precise with your search parameters. When you're ready, click Advanced Search, and now I'm seeing the search results for pages on Wikipedia, containing all three of the words tree, fur and needles, but not the word evergreen. Notice the search terms as they appear in the Search bar at the top of the page.
As you continue to perform more of these advanced types of searches, you'll start to recognize and remember the proper syntax, and you might not need to navigate to Google's Advanced Search page anymore after a while. You can learn more about how to do advanced searches with Google by going back to Advanced Search and clicking Advanced Search Tips. And here you'll get detailed explanations of how the Advanced Search features work and how to best use them.
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