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ENGL 105 - The Hidden Brain: Search Tips

Search Tips

  • OR = More: Combining related words and synonyms with OR tells your search engine to find results with any one of the words you entered.                                                                 Example: fracking OR “hydraulic fracturing” OR “natural gas drilling”

  • Use a thesaurus to get ideas about synonyms, or other words that are used for the same thing (e.g., cat & feline). Try or

  • Go beyond Google: Try a specialty search engine, such as Google’s Scholar database ( or subject-focused tool such as for health topics or for art topics. Consult a librarian to learn about specialty search engines in your area of study.

Searching Google

To do a Google search with the same search words already entered, click “Search” in the Google box on the “Extend Your Search” column on the right side of the results page

  • To limit to a specific domain, use site: in front of the domain name (no spaces), e.g.
  •   will limit a search to just .edu sites OR   will limit a search to either .edu or .gov sites  will exclude .com
  • To limit to a specific website, use site: in front of the website address (no spaces), e.g.   will limit a search to just the N.Y. Times website        

The Atlantic                         (

The New Yorker                  (

NPR                                    (

New York Times                  ( 

Washington Post                 (

Searching Website Domains

On the web, the term domain refers to the (usually) three-letter extension at the end of a web address, also known as a URL (uniform resource locater). Domains can tell you a bit about the type of site you are looking at before you even begin reading content. Here are some of the most common types:

  • .com                        commercial site
  • .org                          non-profit organizational
  • .edu                         educational site
  • .gov                         government site
  • .mx, .ca, .uk            Country designations (Mexico, Canada, United Kingdom)