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How do I... - Monday 14 January 2019

3 tips for better Google searches


Google is pretty straighforward to use but also brings up many, many results, sometimes making it hard to find relevant information. However a few little tricks can help you make better and quicker searches.


1. Use inverted commas to search for an exact phrase, like “sustainable development” or “IT costs”. They force Google to search for the whole word chain and not each word separately. See the difference when searching for google in libraries and “google in libraries”: the first brings up results on computer science, the second on the use of Google in libraries: not the same, huh?
Inverted commas are also useful when searching for a book or article title, or any document for that matter. And of course it also works in Google Scholar.


2. When looking for information for a course assignment or a dissertation, the source of the info is strategic and can either validate or invalidate your discourse. With the operator site:, followed by your keywords you can limit your search to a website or a range of websites where you know you will find trustworthy data. For example, use site:gov to limit your search to government websites or site:edu for education institutions. Or boldly search just one site, like because you know that’s where the official French stats are - no need to sift  through pages and pages of doubtful results!


3. Stats are a good example for our third tip: did you know you could look for a specific type of file? Use operator filetype: followed by the format you’re looking for: filetype:xls will retrieve Excel files matching your keywords. See how fast you can find ready-to-use stats! And of course this trick works for many types of files.


These three techniques can also be combined for ultra precise searches. Try playing A Google A Day to practise your newly-acquired skills. And if you ever need any help you know where to find us!

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