Search tips and tricks

Try these neat ways to make Google do all the hard work for you:

  • type simple sums into the search bar and hit Enter – Google then works like a calculator
  • find word definitions by adding the word define (eg define colloquial) – Google then looks up the dictionary for you.

How cool is that?

Search operators

Another brilliant way to focus your search is to include certain symbols or refinements. These are called search operators, and they can help you search for specific phrases or information inside any website or set of websites, to help you refine or broaden your search.

Here are a few common search operators:

  • find a specific set of words by using quotation marks (“second wave feminism”)
  • exclude results by adding the minus sign (cats -burmese)
  • search a specific site with a site-specific query (John Batman
  • search a specific web domain by adding the last part of the URL; eg (measles
  • find related or similar resources by adding related: to a URL (

Don't forget to take advantage of Google's suggested keywords and phrases as you type, based on popular search terms. This predictive feature helps you to find new keywords and research pathways, or it can just cut out extra typing.

Watch this video to see some examples of using search operators:

Search tools

The Google Search tools tab lets you filter out unhelpful links. You can limit results by time (eg only show what's happened in the past week or year), place (only show Australian websites) or even the kind of images you'll see (eg black and white or line drawings). This is a very fast and very powerful refining tool.

This video shows you how to use the search tools filters:

Test out a few of the search tools on Google Image search, and you'll see instantly what a difference it makes.

Things to remember

  • Google can work like a calculator
  • Search operators help you refine your search further
  • Use Search tools to refine your search

Next, we'll look at ways to check whether the information you find online is trustworthy.


Last modified: Thursday, 22 September 2016, 2:30 PM