Because of how many web pages there are, it is necessary to use a tool to find a specific page which matches your search parameters: a search engine.
To use a search engine, simply type keywords (search terms) into the appropriate field, press enter, and wait for the results. Before doing so, you need to determine which kind of words you need to enter in order to have the best chance of finding the information you seek.
The engine searches pages which contain these terms, and pages which are linked to from other pages using hyperlinks containing these terms. However, a search's results may be totally different if the keywords used are separated by spaces, surrounded by quote marks, or divided using a specific operator. Therefore, it might be necessary to refine your search using additional keywords and special operators (the table below summarises the types of operators and their effects).
If the search engine finds no results and returns a message saying something like "Your search did not match any documents", you will need to expand the search by using different terms which have to do with the subject you're looking for, or remove some of the ones used.
If the opposite happens — too many results — you will need to narrow the search by adding restrictions, such as requiring that results contain only all of the words request, or by excluding certain words.
|Type of search||Request to enter|
|Proper noun||Type the name of the subject|
|Phrase||Type the phrase inside quote marks
|Containing all names||Use the AND or NEAR Boolean to limit the search:
+name1 +name2 +name3
|Containing at least one of the names||Use the OR Boolean
name1 + name2 + name3
|Not containing a word||Use the NOT Boolean
name1 + name2 -name3
|Name with multiple
|Use truncating: name*
the search engine will look for pages containing the words:
name, named, names, nameless, etc.
- If you type a word in lowercase letters, the engine
will return both lowercase and uppercase results.
- If you type in uppercase letters, the engine
will return only uppercase results.
An example search
Let's say that you want to search for web pages about attorney generals on the search engine Google.
If you type:
the engine will return all pages containing the word attorney and all pages containing the word general (as well as some containing both words, of course, but they'll be lost among all the other documents)
This time, the engine only returns a limited number of pages, containing the word "attorney generals" (plural), as you have opted to leave out all the singular instances (attorney general)
You now have the words attorney general and attorney generals, but there's a problem: The search is leaving out all the pages which write attorney general as:
- attorneys general
- and so on.
The issue, then, is finding a way to have return all possible usages. To do so,
You'll get all the pages which contain at least one word that begins with both of the roots attorney and general/.
CONCLUSION: An optimal search must be tailored to meet your expectations; it's usually different from a basic search, but it saves you time!
|+name1 +name2||Returns documents containing both search terms|
|name1 + name2
|Returns documents containing one (or both) of the two search terms|
|+name1 -name2||Returns documents which do not contain the word that follows the operator -|
|name*||Returns documents containing words similar to the search term|
|quote marks||Returns documents containing the whole phrase|
|Essential (+)||The symbol "+" indicates that a word must be found|
|Exclusion (-)||The symbol "-" excludes a word from the search|