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Google Search Tips

Google search operators Google Scholar Google subject searching Google advanced searching

Before You Search

  • Determine what you're looking for.
  • Choose as many descriptive words as needed.
    • Too few words may give poor results.
    • Google search box accepts up to 32 words.
    • Select nouns to avoid stop words.
  • Explore Search Settings to set your Google preferences.
  • Learn about the Google Toolbar. Download here.

Google Search Conventions

  • Searches are not case sensitive. 
    • Keywords may be entered in lower or upper case or a combination of both. Math, math, MATH  
    • Exception: Boolean operator OR   -  OR must be in caps!
      • Find apartments in Cincinnati or Covington       Apartments Cincinnati OR Covington  
      • Pipe symbol may be used instead of OR           Apartments Cincinnati | Covington
    • Boolean operator AND is assumed
      • Find apartments in Cincinnati and Covington    Apartments Cincincinnati Covington
  • Word order matters.
    • Google ranks the first word slightly higher than the second, the second slightly more than the third, etc.
      • drilling contract (results are slightly different from the search contract drilling)
  • Google ignores most punctuation and symbols. Exceptions:
    • Dollar sign when used to indicate price.
      • canon $400 gives different results than canon 400.
    • Underscore or hyphen when used to connect words.
      • right-to-work
      • end_of_file
    • Symbols when used to convey meaning such as a programming language (C++).
  • Google uses automatic word stemming.
    • Google does not allow wildcards to be used for variable ends of words.
    • Instead, Google searches for all possible word variations.
      • Diet returns diets dieting dietary


Based on the MIT Google Search Tips LibGuide,, authored by Georgiana McReynolds.