Monday, November 07, 2005

Google Tips

For months I have been collecting these tips on using Google better, because we have been so busy teaching that I haven't had time to post them. Now here they are, all at once. I have enclosed search examples in [square brackets]. Don't include the brackets in your search.

To search for synonyms of words, use a tilde. For example [˜child] will retrieve child, children, kids, family, and other synonyms and related terms.

Use an asterisk as a wildcard to replace a word in a phrase. This can be helpful if you can't remember or can't spell some of the words in the phrase. For example, ["once upon a * dreary"] will retrieve the line from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." (Westlaw and LexisNexis users, notice that the * replaces a whole word. There is no wildcard for a single letter at this point.)

To search only one website, include the "site:" operator and the site's URL. For example, [library] retrieves all mentions of the library on the SIU School of Law website.

Use Google shortcuts:

  • If you need a definition, rather than a discussion of a word, use the "define:" operator. For example, [define:RSS] will retrieve definitions of RSS on the web.
  • If you enter an address, including zip code or city and state, in the search box, your top search result will be to Google maps. For example, the search results for [250 Stadium Plaza, St. Louis, MO] will begin with a map of the area around Busch Stadium.
  • Search by telephone area code for maps of the area. For example, [312] links to maps of Central Chicago and Illinois from
  • Search by UPS, FedEx, or USPS tracking number for the latest information about a package.

Use Google as a conversion calculator. For example, [3.5 ounces in grams] returns "3.5 ounces = 99.2233309 grams." [60 percent of 25] returns "60 percent of 25 = 15." You can also convert currency, do basic arithmetic, or perform advanced mathematical calculations. See Google Guide: Calculator.

Sources: ResearchBuzz, Librarians' Internet Index, TechnoLawyer Blog, Library Stuff, BarclayBlog, and Google Blogscoped.

See also Google Help: Search Features and Google Help: Cheat Sheet.

Archive of Research Tips.

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