Google Search Tips

There are a lot of things you can use the Google search bar for: solving mathematical equations (simply type the equation into the search bar), checking your spelling, and more entertaining options like finding out when the sun will rise in Paris or what the current temperature is in Hong Kong. However, when using Google for academic research, there are some less obvious tricks that can be used to refine your search results and make your work easier.

Synonym search

If you want to search not only for your search term but also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term.
Example: ~broke

Search for particular file types

Do you only want PDF or Excel files or Word documents? Search for your topic and “filetype:” to filter results.
Example: barley filetype:pdf

Do you know you do not want a certain type of file type? Add a dash (-) before “filetype”.
Example: barley –filetype:pdf

Dictionary Definitions

To see a definition for a word or phrase, simply type the word “define” then a space, then the word(s) you want defined. To see a list of different definitions from various online sources, you can type “define:” followed by a word.
Example: define philosophy

Exclude a word

Add a dash (-) before a word or site to exclude all results that include that word. This is especially useful for synonyms like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
Example: jaguar speed –car

Search within a site or domain

Include "site:" to search for information within a single website like all incidences of the word "Olympics" on the New York Times website.
Example: Olympics site:nytimes.com

ALSO: search within a specific top-level domain like .org or .edu or country top-level domain like .de or .jp.
Example: Olympics site:.gov

Unit conversions

A wide variety of unit conversions can easily be done using the search bar including currency (like dollars in euros), inches in centimeters, cups in liters and more. Use the format below.
Example: 1000 feet in miles
google search of 1000 feet in miles

Search for a specific phrase in Google

Use quotes to search for a specific phrase (or sequence of words)
Example: “to be or not to be”

To restrict searches to key words in the title

The title of a webpage is in the first line of Google’s search results for a page. There is only one title in a webpage and to restrict your search to just the title use allintitle:
Example: allintitle: research oil

Note: When using allintitle: do not include any other search operators.

For more advanced search tricks

See Google Guide's advanced search operators.