Effective Search on the Internet

There are a number of strategies to help you narrow down your search. They are usually listed under the help page for any major Web portal or Search Engine. The following is listed on Google’s Web Search page for educators.

It is important to choose specific search terms. The more general the term – the wider the net you cast. For example, math is the most general term. To narrow down your search you can use one or more other words such as math, geometry, Pythagorean. There is no need to use words such as a, the, how and why.

Use phrase searches to get results with an exact phrase. Put quotation marks around the famous phrase or song lyrics. For example, "the square on the hypotenuse" or 'three is a magic number". In this case it is recommended to use words like a, the, how and why.

Use plus (+) and minus (-) sign. If you want to exclude certain results use minus sign. For example, mathalgebra will come back with results with no algebra. On the other hand, if you use a plus sign, you will make the search more specific. For example, math + triangles will come back with results with Web sites about triangles. NOTE: When you include a negative or positive term in your search, be sure to include a space before the minus or plus sign.

Use advanced search forms. These forms offer features such as receiving results in a specific language or file format (e.g., PDF, Microsoft Word). You can also search particular domains only (like pbs.org). Many advanced search form also let you search for materials that give you expressed permission in advance to use the content under a so called creative common license. You can use and modify the content under a predefined set of rules.