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Google Search Tips: Getting Started

What is this?

This guide provides search tips and tricks to help you get more out of your Google searches. The guide provides tips for improving your basic and advanced searches as well as helping you search for images, scholarly articles, and more.

Google Search Basics

Searches are not case sensitive. 

  • Keywords may be entered in lower or upper case or a combination of both. Math, math, MATH  
  • Exception: Boolean operator OR
    • Find restaurants in Whitewater or Janesville
      Restaurants Whitewater OR Janesville      
       must be in caps.
    • Pipe symbol may be used instead of OR               
      Restaurants Whitewater | Janesville

Boolean operator AND is assumed.

  • Find restaurants in Whitewater and Janesville         
    Restaurants Whitewater Janesville

Word order matters.

  • Google ranks the first word slightly higher than the second, the second slightly more than the third, etc.
    • music math (results are slightly different from the search math music)

Google ignores most punctuation and symbols. Exceptions:

    • Symbols used as search operators. (See the Advanced Google Search page.)
    • Underscore or hyphen when used to connect words.
      • brother-in-law
      • end_of_file
    • Symbols when used to convey meaning such as a programming language (C++), musical terms (G#), etc.

Google uses automatic word stemming.

  • Google does not allow wildcards (*) to be used for variable ends of words.
  • Instead, Google searches for all possible word variations.
    • Diet returns diets dieting dietary
    • The wildcard symbol (*) is instead used for whole words.

Encrypted Google Search

Your past browsing history online affects future Google searches on your personal or office computer since Google wants to tailor search results to individuals. If you wish your Google searches to remain unaffected by your past search behavior, then you can try an encrypted search.

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