You are here

Search tips for Google, Google Scholar, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines

Basic tips

The more search terms you enter, the more focused and specific your results will be. You do not have to use AND to connect your search terms. So each of these searches will get more and more focused:

  • Airport security
  • Airport security full body scans
  • Airport security full body scans ethics

Phrase searching

You can put quotation marks around a phrase to force a search engine to find those exact words, in that exact order:

“Airport security” “full body scans” ethics

Since there is no truncation (*) in most search engines, to give the search engine alternative forms to search for, use OR (all caps) and parentheses:

(airport OR airports OR airline) (scan OR scanner) (ethics OR moral OR rights OR risk)

Use AROUND (all caps) and specific numbers in parentheses to find words or phrases within a certain number of words of each other on a web page:

“airport security” AROUND(3) body scan

Advanced techniques

Exclude terms

The minus sign tells the search engine to exclude web sites that contain these terms:

“Full body scans” –MRI –“CAT scan”

Searching within a specific site or domain

Use site: to specify results from a particular web site or top-level domain:

“Airport security” “full body scans” site:gov
“Airport security” “full body scans” site:nytimes.com
“Airport security” “full body scans” (site:nytimes.com OR site:washingtonpost.com)

Use the minus sign to exclude this domain:

“Airport security” -site:gov

Search in titles

Use intitle: to force the search engine to find those words in the titles of results (MUCH more specific results):

intitle:airport intitle:security “full body” (ethics OR rights)

Use allintitle: to force the search engine to find all the list ed words in the titles of results (VERY specific results):

allintitle:airport security “full body”

Search for types of files

Use filetype: to tell the search engine to retrieve only certain filetypes:

filetype:pdf
filetype:ppt

Combining advanced search techniques

Get really fancy and put it all together:

  • intitle:security (intitle:airport OR intitle:airline OR intitle:“air travel”) “full body” (scan OR search) (ethics OR moral OR rights OR risk) site:gov
  • intitle:security (airport OR airline OR “air travel”) “full body” (scan OR search) (ethics OR moral OR rights OR risk) (filetype:pdf OR filetype:ppt) site:eu
  • (airport OR airline OR “air travel”) (scan OR scanning OR search OR security) (ethics OR moral OR rights OR risk)

Reverse image search

Use Google's reverse image search or a tool like TinEye to check other uses and even the origin of a picture -- useful for identifying places or people, or for detecting false or misleading news.

Even more advanced search techniques

Looking for even more filters and controls? Try: