Answered By: Kate Holvoet
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2015     Views: 7

When you do a search in a library catalog, database, or on the web you use a structure for the words that you put in the search box.  There are many different ways to choose to organize a search string that you type into a search box.  Not all search options are available in all databases.  For example, library catalogs use simple search options such as search term words as well as AND/OR.  Library catalogs also allow you to limit a search term to a particular field in the record, such as Keyword (anywhere in the record), Author, Title, and perhaps a few other specific record field like Publisher.

Most library catalogs, databases, and web search engines have a basic search box and an Advanced Search option that will let you know the additional search types you can do.

Web search engines like Google have a very broad array of search options, or ways or organizing your search.

From Google's Punctuation, symbols & operators in search:

Symbol What you can use it for
+ Search for Google+ pages or blood types
Examples: +Chrome and AB+
@ Find social tags
Example: @agoogler
$ Find prices
Example: nikon $400
# Find popular hashtags for trending topics Example: #throwbackthursday
- Remove words

When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes results that include that word or site. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.

Examples: jaguar speed -car and pandas -site:wikipedia.org

Connect words

When the dash is in between multiple words, Google will know the words are strongly connected.

Example: twelve-year-old dog

_ Connect two words like quick_sort. Your search results will find this pair of words either linked together (quicksort) or connected by an underscore (quick_sort).
" When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as what's inside the quotes.
Note: Only use this if you're looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you'll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: "imagine all the people"
* Add an asterisk within a search as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Use with quotation marks to find variations of that exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of a phrase.
Example: "a * saved is a * earned"
.. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces (..) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements.
Example: camera $50..$100

Use search operators to narrow down results

Search operators are words that can be added to searches to help narrow down the results. Don’t worry about memorizing every operator - you can also use the Advanced Search page to create these searches.

Note: When you search using operators, don't add any spaces between the operator and your search terms. A search for site:nytimes.com will work, but site: nytimes.com will not.

Operator

What you can use it for

site:

Get results from certain sites or domains. For example, you can find all mentions of "olympics" on the NBC website, or any .gov websites.
Examples: olympics site:nbc.com and olympics site:.gov

link:

Find pages that link to a certain page. For example, you can find all the pages that link to google.com.
Example: link:google.com

related:

Find sites that are similar to a URL you already know. If you search for related sites to the time.com, you'll find other news publication sites you may be interested in.
Example: related:time.com

OR

Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms.
Example:  world cup location 2014 OR 2018

info:

Get information about a URL, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.
Example: info:google.com

cache:

See what a page looks like the last time Google crawled the site.
Example: cache:washington.edu

 

Related Topics

Contact Us

Please give an e-mail address so we know where to send your answer. We will not share it.
Your Question
Attach another file
Your Info
Fields marked with * are required.