Internet Tutorials – Laura B. Cohen’s “basic guide to the Internet” – is a valuable resource for anyone who needs to find information online. Bookmarking her Best Bet Search Tips, for example, means that you’ll always have easy access to proven techniques for effective online research.
Here are a few of Cohen’s good tips:
- Most search engines default to Boolean AND logic. To create a search that will retrieve Web pages containing all of your search terms, type the words with a space in between them. Example: bears hibernation
- Use a plus sign (+) to further focus a Boolean AND search. On Google, for example, use of the plus sign will turn off the feature that may include a search for synonyms of your search terms. On other search engines, the plus sign is a kind of insurance that AND logic will be applied. Example: +desert +horticulture
- Include synonyms or alternate spellings in your search statements and connect these words with Boolean OR logic. OR logic will allow you to retrieve documents containing one or more of your search terms. Search engines are not consistent in the way they want an OR search to be typed out (for example, Google requires that OR be capitalized), so it’s usually best to fill out the form on the advanced search page and let the search engine do the rest. Example: college OR university
- For a Boolean NOT search, place a minus sign (-) in front of the word you want to exclude from your search results. Example: apple -computer
For other practical suggestions – including when to use advanced search and what to do when the results you get back are either too general or too limited – check out Best Bet Search Tips.