Library Research
Searching the Internet
Types of Sources
Evaluating Sources
Citing Sources
Searching the Internet


In most cases, the following rules of thumb facilitate the use of search engines; users should be aware that different search engines may require different procedures, so these rules may not work on all search services.


Search for phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotation marks.

Example: "Mickey Mouse"


Use upper case letters for proper names; otherwise, use lower case for all words. 

Example: "Donald Duck" This search will retrieve all documents with "Donald Duck," but not "donald duck." 

Limiting the Number of Hits

Using keywords, the search engine will find documents that contain any or all the keywords you type. If you retrieve too many irrelevant pages, try typing a "+" before terms that you want to include in all documents or pages retrieved. 

Example: +"Mickey Mouse" Pluto This search will retrieve all documents containing the words "Mickey Mouse," but no documents that contain only "Pluto." Documents containing "Pluto" must also contain "Mickey Mouse" to be retrieved.

Wildcards & Truncation

Following a keyword with an asterisk (*) will allow you to search for the keyword and various suffixes. You must type at least three letters of the keyword before using an "*." 

Example: environment* will find documents that contain the words environment, environments, environmental, and environmentalist

Using an "*" within a keyword also will allow you to search for variant spellings of the keyword. 

Example: colo*r, will retrieve documents that contain "color" or "colour."

Preventing False Hits

Using the word "NOT" or a "-" before a keyword will exclude any document containing that term. Use this feature with extreme care because it can cause valuable documents to be eliminated.

Example: beer NOT "root beer" will retrieve all documents containing the word beer, but from these documents it will exclude all the documents that contain the phrase "root beer." The difficulty here is that some breweries make root beer as well as beer, and you could be eliminating these breweries from the documents you retrieve.


Learning More

To learn more about searching the Internet, look at the help documents of your favorite search engine and the following:


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