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Search the Web

Google and more! Learn about search engines, metasearch engines, internet directories, and expert web searching.

Quick Tips

Tip 1: Be specific. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to find what you're looking for.

Tip 2: Don't worry about capitalization and punctuation. Capitalization is usually ignored and punctuation symbols might have special meanings, so it's best to leave them off. 


Use OR to broaden a search. Use AND to narrow a search. (In most search engines, AND is the default, so typing it is unnecessary)

  1. Example: teenager OR adolescent
  2. Example: marriage AND divorce

Databases follow commands you type in and return results based on those commands. Be aware of the logical order in which words are connected when using Boolean operators: 

  • Databases usually recognize AND as the primary operator, and will connect concepts with AND together first.
  • If you use a combination of AND and OR operators in a search, enclose the words to be "ORed" together in parentheses.



  • ethics AND (cloning OR reproductive techniques)
  • (ethic* OR moral*) AND (bioengineering OR cloning)

(information partially sourced from course guide at MIT Libraries:


Search Engine Math

If you're looking for an exact name, or title, or phrase, put the phrase in quotation marks (" ") as in the examples below:

  1. "no child left behind" 
  2. yellowstone "camping reservations"

In the first example, the search engine will find web pages with all four words together in that order. Without the quotes, it would include pages where all or most of the words appear, but not necessarily next to each other. In the second example, the search engine will find the word "yellowstone" on the same page as the phrase "camping reservations." 

If a word is essential to your search, put it in quotation marks (Google) or in some search engines, use a plus sign (+) before the word.

To exclude a word, use a minus sign (-) before the word.

      Example: puzzles -jigsaw

This would find puzzles but not jigsaw puzzles. Be cautious! You are eliminating every web page that mentions jigsaws, even if it also has the type of puzzles you want to find. 

More Tips

Don't forget to check out any About, Search Tips, or Help pages on the site of the search engine you want to use. Sometimes it's best to go to the source! 

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000