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"Google it."

Whatever you're looking for, just type the appropriate words into your browser's search field, or into the Google search field, and press Enter. In most cases, the information you're looking for will appear somewhere in the first page of results. But this won't always happen.

If your search targets a specific aspect of a common topic--say, contemporary analyses of Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity--then finding it in the results can be a needle-in-the-haystack affair.

To guide Google to your search goal, you may need to use some of the service's advanced features. Once you're familiar with these great, free tools, you can access them with no extra clicks by entering Google's command-line options directly into the familiar search box. I'll show you how to speed up your basic and advanced searches, and how to generate more-accurate search results.

For a look at recent search alternatives to Google, see "Search Evolution: New Ways to Get Better Results."

Narrow Your Search

Use Google's Advanced Search tools to narrow your Google search for popular subjects from millions of results to dozens.
Use Google's Advanced Search tools to narrow your Google search for popular subjects from millions of results to dozens.
Looking for pages that mention Albert Einstein? (Who isn't?) If you simply enter Albert Einstein in the search field, you'll pull up a trove of Einsteiniana, starting with photos, biographies, official archive sites, and extensive Wikipedia articles. In short, it's more than you can deal with. To narrow your search, add terms; Google accepts up to ten. Searching for 'Albert Einstein Swiss patent clerk relativity' yields lots of pages detailing how the good doctor developed his revolutionary theories while working his day job. You'll know that you have introduced too many search terms if Google either reports no matches or coughs up only pages containing useless dictionary-like lists of words. Enclosing terms in quotation marks instructs Google to match the quoted terms literally; when you enter "Albert Einstein" and "patent clerk", Google skips pages that discuss Tom Einstein and grocery clerks.

The wild-card character * lets you search for terms that include other, unknown words: Type Einstein "* theory of relativity", and Google finds not only pages that mention Einstein's general and special theories of relativity, but also pages that mention all of those other theories of relativity as well.

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