California Department of Transportation
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Clark Paulsen, Division Chief

Appendix F
Search Tips

Tip #1: Choose your keywords wisely AND Select descriptive, specific words.

  • Search for: Vancouver 2010 Olympics rather than Olympics
  • Search for: 2004 football statistics rather than football

Tip #2: Use quotes for an exact match.

  • When you enclose your search query in quotation marks, you'll only get results for the exact terms you entered in the order you entered them.
  • Search for: "friendly robot" rather than friendly robot

Tip #3: Either/Or

If you're equally interested in two or more alternatives, use OR in capital letters. For example, search for " new zealand kayaking OR biking."

  1. Choose a few of the most specific or relevant keywords or phrases to describe your topic. Utilize synonyms.
  2. Type your choice of words into the Search Bar offered by your chosen search engine. Generally, capitalization and punctuation are not needed. Search engines usually disregard minor words such as "the, and, to, etc."
  3. Click on the Enter key on your keyboard.
  4. Assess your results. Search through your list of web pages to pinpoint information.
  5. Repeat above steps as necessary. Choose new search words that are more or less specific.
  6. Utilize the Site Map of a site
  7. Utilize the Advanced Search found on most sites.

Tips 4 Other Search Tools

  • Place a plus sign (+) prior to each word to view each "word separately" within your search results, such as +writer+grammar+punctuation.
  • Place a minus sign (-) prior to each word to "omit a word", such as recipe-meat for a vegetarian meal.
  • Utilize quotation marks, to view "consecutive words of a phrase", such as "flower arrangement.".
  • Enter a short question, such as "what time is it?"\"
  • While searching, bookmark any other sites of interest.

Tips 5 Choose Words Carefully

Use specific words to describe exactly what you're looking for. More general terms give a larger number of results, so try to narrow your search.

For example:

  • Try "19th century chairs" instead of "old furniture"
  • Use "digital camera reviews" instead of "electronics"

Watch for words with more than one meaning. If you're looking for information on modeling, make sure you specify "fashion" or "clay."

Tips 6 Including and Excluding Words

By default, Yahoo! Search returns only pages that include all of your search terms. The exception is very common words such as "it" and "how." These appear in so many places, they usually won't improve your results.

  • Including Words: To include words, just type a plus sign + in front of each one. For example, if you want to see pages about the latest "in thing," search for "+in thing."
  • Excluding Words: To exclude words, type a minus sign - in front of them. No pages containing those words show up in your results. For example, if you want to see pages about dogs with no mention of poodles, search for "dogs -poodles."

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