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Externships & Summer Jobs: Guide to Legal Research: Google Search Tips

This guide is intended to direct externs to relevant sources for completing research assignments.

Google Search Operators

Google Search Operators

Punctuation & symbols

Even though you can use the punctuation marks below when you search, including them doesn’t always improve the results. If we don't think the punctuation will give you better results, you'll see suggested results for that search without punctuation.

Symbol How to use it
+

Search for Google+ pages or blood types
Examples: +Chrome or  AB+

@ Find social tags
Example: @agoogler
$ Find prices
Example: nikon $400
#

Find popular hashtags for trending topics
Example: #throwbackthursday

- When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that info from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
Examples: jaguar speed -car or pandas -site:wikipedia.org
" When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you're looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you'll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: "imagine all the people"
* Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms.
Example: "a * saved is a * earned"
.. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range.
Example: camera $50..$100

Search operators

Search operators are words that can be added to searches to help narrow down the results. Don’t worry about memorizing every operator, because you can also use the Advanced Search page to create these searches.

Operator How to use it
site: Get results from certain sites or domains.
Example: olympics site:nbc.com
To get results from multiple sites or domains, combine with OR.
Example: Olympics site:nbc.com OR site:.gov
related: Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know.
Example: related:time.com
OR Find pages that might use one of several words.
Example: marathon OR race
info: Get information about a web address, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.
Example: info:google.com
cache: See what a page looks like the last time Google visited the site.
Example: cache:washington.edu

Note: When you search using operators or punctuation marks, don't add any spaces between the operator and your search terms. A search for site:nytimes.com will work, but site: nytimes.com won't.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a free resource that allows you to search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.

Google Scholar Search Tips:

Get the most out of Google Scholar with some helpful tips on searches, email alerts, citation export, and more.

Finding recent papers

Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:

  1. click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;

  2. click "Sort by date" to show just the new additions, sorted by date;

  3. click the envelope icon to have new results periodically delivered by email.

Locating the full text of an article

Abstracts are freely available for most of the articles. Alas, reading the entire article may require a subscription. Here're a few things to try:

  1. click a library link, e.g., "FindIt@Harvard", to the right of the search result;

  2. click a link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result;

  3. click "All versions" under the search result and check out the alternative sources;

  4. click "Related articles" or "Cited by" under the search result to explore similar articles.

If you're affiliated with a university, but don't see links such as "FindIt@Harvard", please check with your local library about the best way to access their online subscriptions. You may need to do search from a computer on campus, or to configure your browser to use a library proxy.

Getting better answers

  • If you're new to the subject, it may be helpful to pick up the terminology from secondary sources. E.g., a Wikipedia article for "overweight" might suggest a Scholar search for "pediatric hyperalimentation".

  • If the search results are too specific for your needs, check out what they're citing in their "References" sections. Referenced works are often more general in nature.

  • Similarly, if the search results are too basic for you, click "Cited by" to see newer papers that referenced them. These newer papers will often be more specific.

  • Explore! There's rarely a single answer to a research question. Click "Related articles" or "Cited by" to see closely related work, or search for author's name and see what else they have written.