If you know how to really use search engines, you can find almost any information you want on the web. This workshop
tutorial tells you all you need to know about how to use search engines to find information.

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  Home > Workshops > Finding information on the Net >

How to use web search engines

Click HERE to find people!If you know how to really use search engines, you can find almost any information you want on the web. This workshop tutorial tells you all you need to know about how to use search engines to find information.

In principle, using a Web search engine is very simple... type in a 'keyword' (one that you would expect to find on the pages of information that you are looking for), hit the search button, and back come the URLs of web pages containing the information you are seeking, usually with a brief description or the first few words on the page

Tips for using search engines
In practice, you often need to refine your search very carefully otherwise you will be swamped by many thousands of possible pages. Fortunately, many search engines allow you to define your search accurately using "Boolean operators" and "wildcard characters". The way that these are implemented might vary slightly from one search engine to another, but here's some general search tips for more complex searching:

AND: "Rice AND pudding" will only find those pages which contain both of those words.

NOT: "Rice NOT pudding" will find the pages that contain the word "rice" but which do not contain the word "pudding".

Some search engines use plus (+) and minus (-) signs in front of the search words instead of AND and NOT

OR: "Rice OR pudding" will find pages which contain either of the two words.

NEAR: "Rice NEAR pudding" will find pages which only contain those two words close to each other. This facility is only found on a few search engines.

Wild card characters: Usually the asterisk. "pud*" will find pages with any words beginning with "pud", whilst "pudding*" will find "puddings" as well as "pudding".

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Double-Quote marks: Enclosing two or more words with "double-quote marks" will normally cause them to be treated as a phrase, rather than separate words. This applies to nearly all search engines.

Capital letters: Entering your search words in capital letters will only find references in capitals. Lower case search words will find both upper and lower case entries. So "RICE" would only find pages with "RICE", but "rice" would find "Rice", "RICE" or "rice". This convention also applies to most search engines.

More information: Check out the Ask Scott site - information on using search engines from a professional librarian. And if you really want the lowdown on search engines, you can't do better than visit the Search Engine Watch site

All of the good search engines have their own on-site guides on how to get the best out of each one, and it is a good idea to read these guides and FAQs before using them. It could save you a lot of time. For those search engines that you use regularly, it is useful to print out the guide so that it will be on your desk for future reference.

 


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