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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 specific 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, the 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 link for Advanced Search.
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 to find web pages that include the words tree, fir, and needles, because I am interested in fir, tree, needles. So under Find web pages that have all these words, I'll type tree, fir and needles, with spaces in between them. Now because I typed into this field, this means I'll only see results from pages that contain all of those words, not just one or two of them. Now if I wanted to search for an exact phrase, I would type that in 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 type tree, fir, and needles into these fields, Google would show me pages that contain at least one of those words, but I'm going to leave my search terms in the first field. Next you have the option of excluding certain words. Maybe in this case, I want to find pages that have the words tree, fir, and needles, but not the word evergreen. Notice that my search parameters appear 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 search manually from Google's homepage or from your browser's search bar. Basically it's teaching you the correct syntax for this search. Next you have the option of specifying how many results you want 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 that's on a particular site. Maybe for this example I'll limit my search to just Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Again, notice the syntax at the top of the screen. To search a specific site in Google, you type site: followed by the site's address. And for even more advanced searching tools, you can click this link at the bottom and 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 that are only found in Wikipedia containing the words tree, fir, and needles, but not the word evergreen. Notice the search terms as they appear in the Search Bar is at the top of the page.
As you perform these more advanced type searches, you'll start to recognize and remember the proper syntax and you might not even have to navigate to Google's Advanced Search page anymore. You'll just know to type a minus sign in front of the words you want to exclude and to type site: followed by the web site address of the site you want to search. To learn more about how to do advanced searches with Google, you can go back to the Advanced Search page and then click Advanced Search Tips. And here you'll find detailed explanations of how the Advanced Search features of Google work.
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