How To Use Google Search Efficiently To Study

person sitting at a desk using google search to find information

I used Google Search almost exclusively to do all my research in college. I learned very quickly how to use Google Search to study efficiently. With so much information and billions of searches a day, it can be hard to find the specific information you are looking for.

Using a search operator can make it faster to find things by making your search more accurate. A search operator is a special command that helps Google narrow the focus of the search. This in turn allows your search to be more effective.

Here are my top 5 Tips on how to get the most out of Google Search.

1. Use Quotes For Specific Phrases

This is the number one command on my list because I use quotes almost every time I use Google Search. Quotes help me find an exact phrase when searching for something very specific. Using quotation marks tells Google to search for that specific phrase only. This saves a lot of time because you’re not sifting through unrelated information.

For instance, if you search for perfect study space, Google will search for content that contains those three words in any order. You are going to get a bunch of random results from each individual word that’s most likely not what you were looking for.

However, if you put quotes around the words, “perfect study spaces”, it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This will help you discover specific information that may be buried under content that is unrelated.

Another example is if you search, your college sensei, you will get results that have those words, but not necessarily in that order. The results will yield everything about colleges, senseis, karate, martial arts, etc. This is because Google isn’t quite sure what you are looking for. By adding quotes “your college sensei”, you will get only results that include all those words in that specific order. That narrows your search significantly.

2. The Order Of Words Makes A Difference

The way you word your search affects the results you will get. When Google searches it looks for words in the particular order in which you typed them. Therefore, be sure to arrange your search words in the order that you think they would appear in whatever you are searching.

If you search “snow white” it will generate very different results from “white snow.” If your search results seem way off, try changing the order of your words as they may be influencing the search.

A large brown information booth. It represents how students can use google search to get informaiton

3. Substitute An Asterisk For A Missing Word

When writing reports I liked to add quotes. When used correctly a direct quote by someone respected in the field you are writing about can strengthen your paper. Especially in research papers. A good solid quote is a great way to back up a specific idea you want to support.

Have you ever thought of a quote, but couldn’t quite remember it? Guess what, Google has a solution for that. All you have to do is put an asterisk (*) in the place of the word you can’t remember.

So if you are trying to remember the Steve Jobs quote, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” and you can’t remember the word dogma all you have to is put a * in that space and Google will automatically fill it in. Voilà you now have your missing word.

This feature is great for song lyrics too. Sometimes you can remember a line from a song but you can’t remember the title. Google’s got your back. Just type in what you do know. Here’s an example.

“Just a * town girl living in a * world”

Google will literally recognize that phrase as Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. Awesome, right? So, if you can’t quite remember a word or two just use the asterisk when you search.

Here are 10 steps on How To Write An Impressive College Paper that will be sure to earn you a great grade.

4. Search For A Range Of Numbers

Searching for a range of numbers is another tip you may use frequently in college. Students who are studying majors with statistics or money or references will find this useful as you can search by years, dollars, or any other numerical value. All you have to do is use two periods (..) between two numbers to let Google search know you’re looking for a specific range of numbers.

If you wanted to know who won, the World Cup between the years 1994 to 2018 this is how you would search it.

What teams won the World Cup 1994..2018

Those two little dots between 1994 and 2018 tell Google to search the years, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2018. You don’t have to do a search for each individual year. Google will tell you who won the World Cup in those years.

Another example is if you want to narrow results to a price range you can use the two periods in between the numbers for this too. Let’s say you want to buy a laptop and your budget is $600 to $1000. This is how you would search for it.

Laptop $600..$1000

This search will yield all laptop computers in that price range. Google will omit laptops that are under $600 and any that are over $1000. It’s important to note that currency symbols such as $ will change the search results. A search for Laptop 600 will yield different results than Laptop $600.

I used this feature often when I was a business major as many classes required me to study prominent businesses and brands. Take for instance, if I had to do a report on Nike I might only need corporate information for specific years. A search on the company might look something like this,

Nike business plan 2008..2013

This search will find documents that mention Nike Business Plan and the dates 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or 2013. This narrows your results tremendously when you are trying to do research on a huge company.

5. Define Words In Google Search

Google search can define any word. This can be so valuable in college because some words may be unfamiliar especially as you get into your major and begin to study a specific subject more deeply.

To find the definition of any word in Google Search all you have to do is type the word followed by define/definition. Google will give you the definition and the pronunciation. Be sure to use the speaker if you want to hear the word being pronounced.

If you are a nursing major and you are struggling with medical terms or an engineer struggling with engineering terms getting a quick definition of a word can really help you understand the information you are studying.

If you are studying nursing and you come across the word intraosseous and you are unsure of what it means this is how you would search it.

Intraosseous define or intraosseous definition or define:intraosseous

Any one of those searches will yield the definition of intraosseous.


Sensei Side Note

Google is an excellent speller so don’t worry if you misspell something or don’t know how to spell a word. Google does a great job of predicting the word you want. Also, don’t use basic punctuation like periods (.), commas(,), or question marks (?) as Google just ignores them.