Google power searching

How much cooler would it be if it was power ‘ranging’ instead of ‘searching’? They certainly missed a trick there… but I digress. This time we’re discussing sneaky shortcuts and methods to help students  find the exact data and information they need to cram into their assignments, using two examples.

  1. Wildcard Operators. These work as a placeholder for a word or more than one word, using a ‘*’ symbol.  wildcards  you can match:
    • both the singular and plural forms of a word
    • words that begin with the same root
    • words that can be spelled in different ways

    You can even match words that you’re not sure how to spell! Here is an example of this operator in use: image02


Other forms of Wildcard Operators exist too. For example, a question mark stands for exactly one character, and is useful when you’re uncertain of a spelling. For example, a search like relev?nce means you can match the word relevance even if you can’t remember whether it’s spelled with ance or ence. It’s also good for finding certain words with numerous spellings, for example, defen?e finds both defense (American) and defence (British and Canadian). Multiple question marks in a row stand for the same number of characters as there are question marks. For example, psych????y matches either psychology or psychiatry but not psychotherapy. An exclamation point (!) stands for one or no characters and is especially useful when you want to match the singular and plural of a word but not other forms. Students could find this useful, as we’re often researching complex topics, and if your spelling is anything like mine you won’t live without it!

2.CSEs. CSEs, or Custom Search Engines, allow the user to make their own special Google search. A CSE is basically a way of taking a query and allowing it to only search a part of the internet that the user has defined prior. This method can help simplify searching, and save your research process, especially if you’re constantly conducting similar searches. Google Custom Search allows you to try this for free!


Hungry for more? For a pretty exhaustive list of tactics, look no further than here.


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