Google Like a Librarian

By FPL_Amy

Ever wonder how Librarians search the internet? Get the most out of your Google search with these tips and tricks from your friendly local Librarians.

  1. Use quotation marks for specificity.

Use quotation marks when searching for words in the exact order. For example, if I were to search for information on the book Jellicoe Road without quotations Google will search the internet for those two words in any order. However, by adding quotations, Google will search for content that has the words in the exact order I typed it. So, the search would look like this instead:

    • “Jellicoe Road”

You can also use quotation marks to tell Google not to ignore common words in English and other languages. For example, if I wanted to search for information about the city The Colony, Google would ignore “the” even though it’s part of the city name. However, putting “The” in quotation marks tells Google it’s important to the search.

  1. Use the hyphen (-) to exclude words.

For example, if I were to perform a Google search for “Pride and Prejudice” content would be pulled for both the book and movie adaptations. If I was just looking for information about the book, I could do the following search:

    • Pride and Prejudice -movie

Or for another example, if I wanted to look for information about kiwi, but looking for the fruit not the bird:  

    • kiwi -bird
  1. Use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard character.

The asterisk can be used as a placeholder in your search and tells Google to fill in the blank. It’s great for when you’re missing a keyword. I especially like using it for finding song titles by looking up the part of the lyrics I was able to catch before the song stopped playing. Take the following search for example:

    • You can call me * you can call me * I don't care I'm proud of it no more *

Google fills in the asterisk with the missing keywords and pulls up the lyrics to the song Idol by BTS

  1. Use the vertical bar (|) and OR interchangeably to find pages that include either one or both terms in your search results.
    • Star Trek|Star Wars
    • Star Trek OR Star Wars

The search results from the examples above will bring up pages about Star Trek, Star Wars, and Star Trek and Star Wars.

  1. Use two periods between two numbers to search within that range.

For example, to search for a used car using a specific price range I would enter the following:

    • used car $2000..$6000

Or maybe you’re looking for when the first Sailor Moon episode was aired:

    • sailor moon 1990..2000
  1. Use the tilde (~) to include synonyms.

This works best when using general terms. For example, if I was looking for inexpensive flights, I would perform the following search:

    • ~inexpensive flights

Using the tilde before “inexpensive” tells Google to include search results for inexpensive and its synonyms like cheap and affordable.

  1. Use site: to search within a website.

For example, if I was interested in the Art in the Atrium exhibit and wanted to find information about it on the City of Frisco’s website, I would make the following search:

    • art in the atrium
  1. Use related: to find similar websites.

For example, if I wanted to find a similar website to I would perform the following search:


This search brings up similar sites like Yahoo Mail and Gmail. This can be especially be helpful when looking for specialty sites. 

  1. Use intitle: and allintitle: to search for words in a webpage title.

You can search for keywords or phrases just in the title of a webpage. To search for a keyword do the following:

    • Forbes intitle:BTS

This will return search results about Forbes that have "BTS" in the title. If you wanted to search for multiple words in a title you would perform the following search:

    • Forbes allintitle:BTS billboard

This will return search results about Forbes with “BTS” and “Billboard” in the title. You can also perform similar searches for text. By using intext: and allintext: Google is directed to search for words in the text of a webpage and not the title or URL.

  1. Use location: to find information related to a location.

This is a great tool if you’re looking for news or information about a particular location. For example, if I was interested in information about the PGA of America moving to Frisco, I’d perform the following search.

    • PGA location:Frisco

This will bring up information about PGA with regards to a particular location, Frisco.

  1. Use Google’s Advanced Search.

Having difficulty finding what you need, or your search is super complicated? You can always use Google’s Advanced Search Form.