If you are a regular user of Google (and at this point, who isn’t?), it may have registered with you that Google is trying to solve all your information needs. Need to convert currency? Type 100 dollars in Euros. Need to identify the location of an area code? Type in the area code. Headed to Seattle and want to know whether you need to bring an umbrella? Type weather in Seattle.
This is all very handy, but the most powerful features of Google are the advanced search operators that allow you to refine your searches to retrieve a more relevant set of results. These operators will let you limit your search to a specific site, type of document, and date range. You can search for phrases, remove results with terms, and look for synonyms. The Library has developed a guide on Advanced Searching in Google that describes the most useful of these tools. It also provides more guidance on constructing a successful search by eliminating superfluous words, like the, an, of, in , where, who, and is. (There are some exceptions to this – try searching for who, then a who, then the who.) You wouldn’t think word order would matter, either, but it does. Search for sky blue and then blue sky. You get completely different results.
In addition to advice on constructing your search, the guide will help you set up Google Scholar to access the online content the Library pays for. Have you been published? You can track who has cited your work using “My Citations.” Setting up alerts will have you emailed every time new items appear related to your search. Google Trends allows you to track how often terms were searched in Google. Can’t remember the name of that book you saw yesterday, but remember it was blue and had a picture of Abraham Lincoln on it? The guide shows you how to use the search Google Images to identify it.
Google changes all the time, adding new features and deleting less popular ones. If you come across a useful feature of Google that you think should be shared, please feel free to contact us and let us know. You can find our contact information under the More Help? Tab.
– Jennifer Dorner, Doe Library
contact me at dorner [at] berkeley.edu