Search Directories


Sites are usually chosen by knowledgeable people.

Sites are often high quality.

Sites offer an overview of what is available.




Search Engines


Search engines use computer programs called robots or spiders to crawl through the Internet finding web pages that contain the words you typed into the search box.

Because search engines are very large, they often return thousands of results. Knowing how to type in your search words can push the most relevant sites to the top of the list.


Common search strategies:

1.     Exact phrase – Use quotation marks around a phrase such as

“child abuse”

“miami dolphins”

song title – “love me tender”

“Albert Einstein”


2.     Boolean OR – Use OR between words that are similar.

The search engine will retrieve sites that contain any of the words.

This method broadens the search.


cigarettes OR tobacco

teens OR adolescents OR youth

“capital punishment” OR “death penalty”


3.     Boolean AND – Use AND between words to require all the words in the sites retrieved. This method narrows the search.


terrorism AND “new york”

floods AND “mississippi river”

finds sites on flooding but only Mississippi River sites

teens AND pregnancy


Some search engines use the + sign to indicate AND.

+terrorism +”new york”

+floods +Mississippi

+teens +pregnancy


GOOGLE automatically does a Boolean AND search. You don’t need to use either AND or + sign.


4.     Boolean NOT – Use NOT to eliminate sites that are not helpful.


dolphins NOT football

floods NOT Mississippi


Some search engines use the – sign to indicate NOT.


dolphins  –football

floods  –mississippi


5.     Truncation – Use truncation to retrieve both singular and plural forms of the same word or other forms of the same word. Use the asterick (*) at the root or trunk of the word.



Will retrieve teen, teens, teenager, teenagers.



Will retrieve automobile and automobiles.


The search engine GOOGLE will not recognize truncation. You must type in all forms of the word you wish to search.

teen OR teens OR teenager OR teenagers



Different search engines use different methods of searching. The best way to use a search engine is to learn the way it searches by going to its advanced search page which guides you through the process of entering search terms.