Old Dominion University Libraries

STARquest II: The Internet and the World Wide Web

7. Additional Searching Tips

  • Always check for typos.
  • Most search engines have an "implied" operator when you use more than one word in your search. In this type of search on the Internet, the space between keywords defaults to either OR or AND. For example, if the search tool uses OR as its default, and you enter a search as chocolate ice cream, you will get not only Web pages about chocolate ice cream but also all the Web pages about chocolate, all the pages about ice, all the pages about cream, and all the pages about ice cream.
  • Try to search by phrases using " " rather than by single words, in order to focus on your topic. Example: "chocolate ice cream"
  • Some search engines-- e.g., Google--recognize the Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in UPPER CASE only. Be sure to check those help screens to find the answer.
  • Read the search engine's help screens!
  • Be careful in using upper case in your searches. Some engines will find only pages which include your upper case term.
  • For most searches, search more than one engine.
  • Use specific words rather than general.
  • If you don't find what you need by the first 20-50 sites, give it up and reformulate your search.
  • Choose search engines based on what you need and the best search engine for the job.
  • Keep searches simple.
  • Learn how to analyze your topic to take advantage of search tool feature