Everyone knows how to use Google, right? Since this tech giant developed and released its search engine in 1997, it has become the most successful and widely-used search engines in history, with several hundred million queries a day.
The first part of research, as any student knows, is to “google” your topic. Their search engine has so thoroughly dominated this market that many people would be hard pressed to even name another search engine.
With this level of prominence and recognition, surely everyone—especially students, who are constantly using the internet to do research for papers and projects—knows how to use it to its fullest, right?
Actually, there are many ways to maximize Google’s many features that most students don’t know about. A recent study conducted at Illinois Wesleyan University in Normal, Illinois, found that fewer than 25 percent of all college students were capable of conducting a “reasonably well-executed search.” Here are some tips that can help improve the way you use Google’s search engine to carry out your research.
1. Site Search
This nifty little tool allows you to search only the content of a specific website. Simply type “site:” and then the name of the site you’d like to search (no space in between), without the “www.” prefix, and then the keywords you’re looking for, to use this feature. For example, if you want to search CNN’s website for articles on earthquakes, you would enter this into the search bar:
2. The Tilde
Another commonly unknown Google feature is the ability to make Google search for keywords similar to the one you’re entering. By typing a tilde (the symbol “~”, found at the top left corner of most keyboards) before the topic, Google will return searches for related topics.
3. Use Quotes for Precision
When searching for phrases, enclose all the words in quotes so that Google looks for the exact phrase, rather than each individual word. That way, if you’re researching the “best engineering schools in America,” you’ll get search results for the best engineering schools in America—not a bunch of disparate results for “engineering,” “schools,” and “America.” This also prevents it from returning alternate spellings or different forms of words, like “engineers,” or “American.”
4. Exclude Undesired Words
Most students don’t know that you can also limit the topics that Google will return search results on by simply adding a minus sign before a word (e.g., “-topic”). So, for example, if you are looking for football records but are only looking for NFL records, you could enter the following into the search bar:
“football records” -NCAA -college
5. Effective Article Searches
A major part of school research is looking for articles, essays, and papers written on your topic, and Google Scholar is a very useful tool for accomplishing this. Google Scholar (scholar.google.com) is a part of the search engine dedicated to searching academic literature. Like Google itself, there are several relatively unknown ways to use Google Scholar more effectively. The most important of these is the author search feature: simply type “author:” before the author’s last name (again, no space), followed by the keyword you’re looking for. So if you’re looking for articles on coffee by John Torman, you’d type the following into the search bar:
6. Time-saving Shortcuts
– Type “define:” before a word to get a definition for it.
– Save yourself the trouble of opening your calculator app by simply entering any basic math calculation into Google using + (for addition), – (for subtraction), * (for multiplication), and / (for division), using parentheses. Thus, if you want to divide the sum of 5 and 9 by 4 less than the product of 7 and 3, it’s much simpler than reading this sentence correctly! Simply type “(5+9)/((7*3)-4) into your Google search bar and Google will calculate the result for you.
– Easily convert units by filling in the blanks in this format: “quantity” “unit type known” in “unit type desired”. Thus, if you want to know how many centimeters are in 12 inches, simply type “12 inches in centimeters” into the search bar and Google will immediately supply you with the correct conversion.
About the author: this article was composed by Ty Whitworth for the team at kendall.edu; for those interested in culinary school, learn about Kendall’s culinary arts school courses and degree programs.