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Research Toolkit: Discover Google Search Tips

 Related Guide: Should I use Google or library resources?


The Basics


  • Google searches the open web - not subscribed or licensed resources
  • Word order matters
  • Too few words may give results that are not relevant
  • Google search box accepts up to 32 words


Google Power Tips


Operator Description Examples
" "

Exact Phrase Search

  • Enclose words in quotation marks
  • Searches for words in the order you type them

"java programming"

"allegory of the cave"





Search Domain or Website

  • Put site: at the end of your search words to search for results from specific domains or websites

Find Volunteer Opportunities at Non-Profit Organizations in Detroit:

volunteer Detroit

Find Information from WCC about Photography:


Find Government Information on Human Trafficking in Michigan

human trafficking Michigan



Must Include Words

  • Type a plus sign before a word or phrase to include it
  • Type a space before the plus sign but not after it

poverty +nutrition

"invasive species" +"Lake Michigan"



Exclude Words

  • Type a minus sign before a word or phrase to exclude it
  • Type a space before the minus sign but not after it


"Violin Music" +sonata -concerto

football -soccer -rugby

Adapted from Google Search Tips: Getting Started, from MIT Libraries