Search Smarter - Digital Literacy Dover

Friday, 26 October 2018

Search Smarter

If you ever hear 'boolean operators' mentioned in a sentence, you could be forgiven for giving this whole rigamarole an eye roll and moving on—which I must confess I used to do, but DON'T, if you ignore these fabulous little functions you are missing out; you don't need to use all or even most of them, but you won't go wrong with these...

Just remember when using an operator, this is not an essay, so NO SPACE after the colon or it won't work! 

Six Scintillating Search Strings

So yes, most 'boolean operators' are extremely geeky and only really relevant to highly specialised search gurus, but there are a handful that are useful to anyone, yes that includes you, if you can use Google you can use these; they are:


Get a dictionary definition not just a webpage with the word in 

“search term here” 

Use quotes to search for a specific term or phrase with exactly those words in exactly that order eg “halt and catch fire“


eg site:ie to just return websites that are based in Ireland, especially useful for research where you want the perspective of people of a certain nation not just the most popular websites on the Internet. 


eg intitle:gaming will only give you websites where gaming is in the title of the page not just a possibly fleeting reference within an article that is primarily about something else completely different. 

NOT or - to exclude a particular term that keeps messing up your search results, eg maybe you’re searching for Koala, but you keep on getting websites that include the phrase “koala bear“ which you know means that they can’t be particularly authoritative, then you just add the search term -bear now any of the results that included the term “bear” will be excluded, refining your search down to a much better selection of sites. 

Search for transparent images for your Google Slides 

Search for images with other images… 

Mix & Match! 

And of course don’t forget your combos, any/all of the above can be combined to extremely powerful effect, eg

intitle:”halt and catch fire” site:ie  
This will return websites that are based in Ireland that are all almost certainly about the TV show ‘halt and catch fire’ ... 

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