There are millions of pages of information on the World Wide Web, and finding relevant and reliable information can be a challenge. Search engines are powerful tools that index millions of web sites. Search engines are rated by the size of their index. Large engines such as Google are good tools to use when searching for obscure information, but one drawback to an extensive index is the overwhelming number of results on more general topics. There are a number of ways you can format your search request to increase the relevance of the links returned by the search engine.

Common commands for search engines include:

  • Quotation Marks ( ” )

    Using quotation marks will help to find specific phrases involving more than one word. For example: “Martin Luther King”

  • Addition Sign ( + )

    Adding a + sign before a word means that it MUST be included in each site listed. For example: + Florida + taxes

  • Subtraction Sign ( – )

    Adding a – sign before a word means that it will NOT appear in the sites listed. For example: + Washington -DC

  • Asterisks ( * )

    Asterisks can be used for wild-cards in some search engines. For example: Mexic* will look for Mexico, Mexican, Mexicali, etc.

Support for these commands, as well as for Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT varies by search engine. You should become familiar with the features supported by each search engine by visiting that search engine’s help section.

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