A Librarian’s Top 10 Google Tips

1. Explicit phrase:  Including quotations around phrases will result in a query that includes all terms in specified order.  Google employs synonyms automatically, quotations will produce exact wording.

Encase the title of an article in quotations.  Googling “Factors influencing development of cryptogamic soil crusts in Utah deserts” from the Journal of Range Management can be found through a University that has digitized that article.


2. Search for specific file type: 
Entering filetype and the 3 letter file abbreviation will return results that are for the requested file type format only.  This will also work for doc, xls, ppt, rtf, and others.

Searching specifically for PDF’s often produces results that are reports.  Searching filetype:pdf “project Rulison” will produce results that are in PDF format and have the exact term Project Rulison.

3. Search for sources from specific website:  This restricts the search to documents form a type of web site.  For instance, if you specify the website domain, such as .gov, .edu, or .org, the search engine returns only those documents in the specified domain.

Looking for reports produced by a government agency?  Search by site:gov.  Searching site:gov “project Rulison” will produce results that are from government websites and have the exact term Project Rulison.

4. Google order of search:  The order in which you type your search query actually does have an effect on your search results.  Google weighs the first words of your search to be more important than the last words.

For example, search the correct title Proposed Foothills Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement rather than Final Environmental Impact Statement: Proposed Foothills Project. The order of the search matters.  Encase your title in quotations for a more efficient and specific search.

5. Find related terms and documents:  Adding a tilde ~ to a search term will return related terms.

For example, Googling ~hydrology returns results with the words hydrology as well as, water resources, drainage, hydrogeology, and hydrologic.

6. Use the + or – sign:  Choose to include additional words or not include additional words in the search.

Looking for information about noxious weeds, but don’t want results about invasive weeds, query your search as noxious weeds –invasive.  This will remove results only about invasive weeds.

7. Find related sites to a specific website.

If you are searching for similar sites, enter related: and the full website url.  For example, if your wanting sites similar to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition website, search for related:greateryellowstone.org/.  The results produced will be other organizations with similar missions and website content.

8. Number Range Search:  Enter two numbers, separated by two periods, with no spaces, into the search box along with your search terms.  You can use this number range search to set ranges for everything from dates (1950..1960) to weights (5000..10000 kg).  Be sure to specify a unit of measurement or some other indicator of what your number range represents.

Perhaps you are searching for BLM’s Public Land Statistics and you want to see the years 2008 through 2010. Search BLM “Public Land Statistics” 2008..2010 and results with those year ranges will appear.

9. Math help:  Use Google to solve simple math problems.  You can also use it to converts units of measurements including length, mass, time, temperature, currency, etc.  Simply type these into the Google search box.

For instance if you need to convert 33.5 centimeter to inches enter 33.5 cm in inches into the search box and your result will show 33.5 centimeters = 13.189 inches.

Google can also do much more complex problems and conversions; you can find out how to build your queries so Google knows what to do with them at the official Google Calculator help page, http://www.googleguide.com/help/calculator.html

10. Search for papers by specific authors in Google Scholar.

In Google Scholar you can search for papers by specific author.  Searching author: Lanner, Ronald M. will produce results by that author.

For other Google search tips see http://www.google.com/insidesearch/tipstricks/basics.html, and this fun site http://mashable.com/2012/06/07/google-search-tips/.

For questions or clarification please contact the BLM Library at blm_library@blm.gov or 303-236-6650.