There is a search engine you may have heard of, called Google. Long Read...but a worthy read!
A lot of people use it but not too many people know how to use it properly. Who Knew??
One of the jobs we are asked to do is research. Knowing how to effectively use Google makes doing these types of jobs hugely more efficient.
So what typical features are useful to use?
i) The minus sign. Knowing how and when to use this is extremely useful and can save huge amounts of time. Searching for general information on "ashes", but not wanting anything to do with cricket? Then "ashes -cricket" is the term you want. This is extremely useful for narrowing down searches to only the things you want.
ii) OR (or the "|" symbol next to the "Z" key) - Useful for variations: Looking for black bicycles? Do you search for black bikes, black cycles or black bicycles? You search for all three as "black bikes|cycles|bicycles" which will search for "black bikes", "black cycles" and "black bicycles"
iii) "site:" - fantastic function for when you want to search a particular website for your results. e.g. you're looking for Vincent Van Gogh on the BBC website is "site:www.bbc.co.uk vincent van gogh"
iv) The AROUND function. If you wanted to research Theresa May's interactions with Angela Merkel, you could simply include both terms in a search, but you would find many thousands of results in which these terms may appear at opposite ends of the article and have nothing to do with each other.
But if instead you search "Theresa May" AROUND(10) "Angela Merkel" then the first results will be one in which Theresa May appears within ten words of Angela Merkel. NOTE: for this to work, both search terms must be in quotes, AROUND must be capitalized, and the number must be in parentheses.
v) Quotes surrounding a phrase will ensure that exact phrase turns up.
vi) (*) as a wildcard in quoted search strings to stand for one or many unknown words. "The * dog" will return things like The silly dog, the big black dog...
vii) Triple quotes """word""" will get you 'actual verbatim' and leave out what Google thinks is relevant
viii) filetype: .whatever will make sure the results are that type of file . e.g. filetype:.pdf for Acrobat PDF's , or filetype:.docx. for Word documents.
ix) inurl: some.words_here will make sure whatever follows shows up in the URL. Good for refining your search by domain name, but not a specific domain.
For a full list there are the following resources:
Unofficial Google Advanced Search
and a useful infographic