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Information Literacy: Google Tips

A guide to finding better resources, avoiding plagiarism, and writing better papers.

   

Google Searching Tips

  • Use quotations to search your phrase in that exact order: Searching "cognitive behavioral therapy" will return only results with that exact phrase, but searching cognitive behavioral therapy (without quotes) will return results which match only the word "therapy" as well. 

  • Search a specific website: Want search results just from the Assemblies of God main website? Use the site: modifier! Searching alcohol site:ag.org will return results about alcohol from only the Assemblies of God website, ag.org. 

  • Filter your search to show results featuring a specific file type: If you're specifically looking for a certain type of document, like a PDF or a PowerPoint file, you can use the filetype: modifier. Searching squirrels filetype:ppt will return only PowerPoint slideshows about squirrels. You can find a complete list of searchable file formats here.

  • Use placeholders for forgotten words: If you're looking for a quote or lyrics but can't remember all of the words, you can use an asterisk (*) to represent the forgotten words. Searching amazing grace how * the sound will return results showing the missing word.

  • Limit results by time: If you're looking for recent information, you can limit your search results by time. After placing your search, click "Tools" and then "Any time" to change the timeframe. 

  • Find images you know you can reuse: Need an image for your presentation? Not all images in a basic Google search are licensed for reuse. After placing your image search, click "Tools" and then "Usage rights" to select the license that best meets your needs. Unless you need to modify the image, selecting "labeled for reuse" is a good choice.

  • Save images for later: Similar to Pinterest, Google allows you to save an image to collections for viewing later. After logging into your Google account, click on any image in your search results and select the bookmark icon labeled "Add to" to save it. To view your saved images later, select "Collections" on the top-right of your search results. 

  • Filter explicit content: Open your Google Settings and select "Turn on SafeSearch" to enable filtering of inappropriate content. While this is not 100%, it does help.

Shoutout to Evan Dashevsky and Jason Cohen at PCMag for compiling the items on this list.

Advanced Google Searching Tips

  • Use Google Scholar to find articles: Google Scholar can find articles on a broad spectrum of topics. If you adjust your settings, you can even find full-text links on some of them. See the PDF below for set up instructions.
  • Most Boolean principles can be used with Google. Learn more about Boolean here!

  • Find related websites: If you find a website with the type of content you're looking for, you can perform a related: search to find similar websites. You'll need the related: modifier along with the URL of a site: To find sites related to The Dallas Morning News' website, enter related:dallasnews.com (you have to include the .com/.org/.edu for the search to work).

  • Set up alerts: Google can automatically notify you of new web content based on specific criteria you provide. You can use alerts to follow news, blogs, finance, or general web content and receive email alerts when new content is available. You can set up alerts here

  • Proximity search: You can use the AROUND(x) modifier to find sites where your search terms are within a certain number of words from each other. If you want results where the words "client" and "treatment" are within 4 words of each other, search client AROUND(4) treatment

  • Find results from specific sources in Google News: You can use the source: modifier to limit your search to news articles from specific Google News sources. If you wanted to find articles about student debt from The Wall Street Journal, enter student debt source:wall_street_journal. If your news source has more than one word in its name, use an underscore (_) to represent a space.

Shoutout to Evan Dashevsky and Jason Cohen PCMag, Eric Melillo at CoForge, and Joshua Hardwick at ahrefs for compiling these lists.

Google Tools

Google offers several tools to aid in your online experience.

You can access any of these by typing the tool name into Google.

  • Calculator
  • Color picker (including Hex and RGB codes)
  • Flip a coin
  • Roll a die (4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 20-sided dice, including modifiers)
  • Spinner (up to twenty numbers)
  • Breathing exercise (one-minute)
  • Metronome (40-218 BPM)
  • Timer/stopwatch 

Note

While these tips are intended for use with Google, many of them will apply to other search engines, as well. Different search engines will sometimes return different search results. If you're having trouble finding what you're looking for, consider using another search engine, such as DuckDuckGo, Bing, or Yahoo!