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4. Refine Your Search



Perform a Basic Google Search

Perform an Advanced Google Search

About Google Search Operators

About Power Searching Strategies

For many purposes, a straightforward search as shown in the previous task finds you the information for which you're looking. But there are also many occasions in which a simple search isn't good enough. In that case, you need to refine your search, as you learn to do in this task.

Refine Your Search

Use Multiple Search Terms

The single best way to narrow your results so you find exactly what you want is to use multiple search terms. For example, if you're looking for information about the contemporary classical music composer John Adams, using John Adams as your search terms does not work very wellyou mainly get pages relating to the U.S. president John Adams. If you instead type John Adams Opera, you get the results you want.

Use Quotation Marks

When you use multiple search terms, Google does not look at them as a phrase. Instead, it thinks you are looking for pages that contain each of the search terms individually. If you typed the terms Rhubarb Patch, Google would return pages that contained the word rhubarb as well as pages that contained the word patch. You would get far more results than you wanted. If you type "rhubarb patch" in quotation marks, you would instead get only those pages that contained the phrase rhubarb patch.

Combine Quotation Marks and Search Terms

Suppose that you were looking for a book written in the early 1950s about the Brooklyn Dodgers, titled The Rhubarb Patch. The best way to find web pages about this book would be to combine the phrase "Rhubarb Patch" and the term Dodgers. (Google ignores capitalization, so it doesn't matter if you use uppercase characters or lowercase characters in your searches.)


It's a good idea to use multiple search terms to narrow your search, but if you use too many terms, Google ignores them. Google only pays attention to the first 32 words of a query, and ignores the rest.

Search Within a Search

Often the best way to narrow your search is to search within the results you've received from a previous search. To do that, start by performing a basic search. At the bottom of the search results page, beneath the results navigation area and the search text box located there, click the Search within results link. A new, blank search form appears. Type your additional search term or terms the way you normally would in Google and click the Search within results button or press Enter. Google uses the new search terms to narrow your search by searching only through the first set of search results.

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