Power Searching with Google Quick Reference
How Search Works: Google looks for the word you
typed in, but sometimes also looks for synonyms or
related terms. Any words appearing in boldface type in
your search results are terms Google associates with
your search terms.
Ads appear in response to some queries and are
always labeled ads.
Aside from ads, website owners cannot pay to
influence the placement of their website in the search
Color filtering: Use color filtering within image
search. Click on the appropriate colored box in the left
panel (does not work on iPad and Android tablets).
Use image search when it appears in search results,
and use related image search to refine results.
Choose effective keywords: Remember to think
about the words you think will be in your desired
results page. Determine the most important words in
your search as well as potential synonyms.
Word order matters. Small words (a, the) matter,
like when they distinguish between two similar entities.
Punctuation that matters: $, #, and + (when used as
Punctuation that Google ignores: ¶, £, €, ©, ®, ÷,
§, %, (), @, ?, !
Quotes: Use quotes to search for a phrase.
Quotes glue words together; there can be additional
words before or after the phrase, but the phrase will
always stay together in the results.
Information panels: Information about certain topics
(e.g. landmarks, famous people, movies, chemical
elements) appears directly on the search results page
(top box on right-hand side).
Left panel: Here, you can filter results by different
categories (blogs, discussions, recipes, patents,
books, 3D models, scholarly sources, and legal
The left panel does not appear on tablet computers
(iPads and Android devices).
Find text on a page:
Windows computers: Press the Control and F keys at
the same time.
Apple computers: Press the command and F keys at
the same time.
Android tablets: In a browser window, touch the menu
button in the top right of the screen, then select “find
Safari on iPad tablets: Click the cursor in the search
box in the upper right corner of the screen. Directly
above the keyboard, a “find on page” box will open.
Translate: Translate words, sentences, and pages by
Foreign language search: Search in foreign
languages using English by clicking “More search
tools” on the left panel of your results page, then
select “Translated foreign pages.” This feature
chooses the best language in which to search and
delivers results translated back into English.
site: Return results from the specified site only; use
also within images and news results.
[site:edu] or [site:.edu]
[Jefferson site:archives.gov] or
filetype: return files of the extension you specify.
NO space between filetype, the colon, and the
[filetype:txt] or [filetype:.txt]
other types: swf, xlsx, pdf, gif
List of file types Google indexes: http://
minus (-): Eliminate irrelevant results.
There must be a space before the minus sign.
There must not be a space between the minus sign
and the word you want to eliminate.
Example: [tesla -coil]
plus (+): Does not mean “and,” nor does it force
inclusion of a word. Google can search for certain plus
signs after a word (e.x., C++ and Google+). A plus
sign before a search term, used as an operator, looks
for a Google+ Page by that name.
define: Identify the meaning of words. Example:
Also: Click on Search Tools in the left panel, then
Dictionary to define words that do not appear in
OR: Use OR to include more than one way of
expressing an idea.
Search by image: Visit images.google.com, or
any Images results page, and click the camera
icon in the search box. Enter an image URL
for an image hosted on the web or upload
an image from your computer. See: http://
Search by Image is supported on these browsers:
Chrome, Firefox 3.0+, Internet Explorer 8+, and Safari
5.0+. To Search by Image on an Android device,
use an app like Google Goggles to take a photo of
an object or image. Search by Image is not currently
supported on tablet browsers.
Shortcuts (search features):
Google search features include weather, time, flight
numbers, earthquakes, world capitals, sunrise/
sunset times, movies, stock quotes, sports scores,
package tracking numbers, medical conditions, and
medications. Check out the full list of search features.
These search features are available on cell phone,
iPad, or anywhere Google is available (like on your
phone while you are cooking in the kitchen).
Time/Date range: Limit results to sources published
during a specific time period by clicking on Search
Tools in the left panel, then selecting the appropriate
Time filters are available in Web Search, Books,
Images, News, Videos, Blogs, Discussions, and
This feature is not available on tablet browsers.
Math and Calculations:
Enter any math equation into the search box, and
Google will calculate your answer.
Verify the credibility of information you find on the
web. Just do one more search.
Avoid confirmation bias when conducting searches.
To verify the source of a piece of information, use the
precise information you have.
To confirm a fact, use a generic description for what
Example: [average length octopus] will give you
information about how long an octopus is. [18 inch
long octopus] will give you sources with examples of
octopuses of that length.
Search appropriate sources that offer authoritative
information for the type of information you are trying
WHOIS: query to identify the owner of a website.
The US Chamber of Commerce operates the WHOIS
search available at http://www.internic.net/whois.html;
alternative WHOIS registries also exist.
If you see a second company listed as a contact
on the WHOIS page, then a relationship exists
between the two companies; search to determine that
Example: [whois] finds WHOIS registries you can
use. Find the search box for the registry, and enter
[zagat.com]. See that Google is the registrant. Search
for [google zagat], which leads to the information that
Google acquired Zagat.
If you don’t know a company’s website, you can
search for the company’s name in Google and locate
the web address.
Sometimes search results offer information that
suggests a better or additional search.
Refine results by using different media types like
videos and news; these filters appear in the left side of
the search results page
Combine operators for stronger searches.
Operators can be placed anywhere in the query
without affecting the results. For example: [black cats
site:com] is equivalent to [site:com black cats].
Combine methods and approaches to find
Use tools that are not traditionally used for research,
like Maps and Streetview.
(On tablets, it’s best to use the Google Maps
application instead of looking at streetview in the
To keep updated on Google Search:
Pick a blog to read to keep up-to-date:
● Official Google Blog
● Inside Search
● SearchResearch (by Dan Russell)
● MindShift (posts by Tasha Bergson-
● Search Engine Land
Set up an email alert to notify you when there is a new
Try out the AGoogleADay game.