University of Oregon

Using Google Search


Google is one of the most commonly used search engines on the internet. When searching for information there's plenty of tricks to use that will help increase the chance of finding what you seek.

Basic Operators

  • Quotations ( "" ) : By enclosing your search phrase in quotation marks, Google will search only websites containing the entire unbroken phrase found inside those quotation marks. This means the order and spelling of the words. The order of words found outside quotation your marks are treated normally.
    • Example: "To Kill a Mockingbird" book notes review discussion
  • Minus Sign ( - ) : Any word that is preceded by a minus sign will be omitted from the search results. This is a great way to make searches about general topics more specific.
    • Example: Vampires -Twilight
  • Plus Sign ( + ) : Any word that is preceded by a plus sign will be searched as is. In a regular search Google will attempt to match your keywords with similar concepts. The plus sign avoids this by only displaying results containing your keyword.
    • Example: music theory +Schenker
  • Asterisk ( * ) : Inserting an asterisk into your search tells Google to treat the asterisk as a wildcard in your phrase. Google will then find phrases similar to yours and fill in the asterisk with words from those phrases. This feature works best when used with quotations.
    • Example: "* goes well with *"

Special Syntax

  • Search Within a Site ( site: ) : To search within a specific domain type "site:" followed by the URL. The more specific the URL the more specific the search. This is a great way to search inside websites as Google is typically faster than most site's internal searches.
  • Example: " Student Clubs"
  • Search Linked Pages ( link: ) : Typing "in link:" followed by a URL will search pages linked to that URL. Again, using a broad URL, such as the UO's domain name ","  will produce a search linked to a whole website, whereas a more specific link, such as ","  will show links made directly to that file.
  • Example: "in"

Advanced Search

A simple way to use these search operators without having to memorize them is to use Google's Advanced Search. Linked from Google's home page, Advanced Search presents an easy way to include or exclude:

  • specific terms
  • specific languages
  • file types (PDF, Word, etc.)
  • websites
  • date ranges
  • regions of the world