Power Searching For Anyone
Search engines have a variety of ways for you to refine and control your searches. Some of them offer menus systems for this. Others require you to use operators, which are special symbols or words, as part of your query.
Sometimes different operators -- called commands on this page -- can be used with the same search engines to produce the same result. That is why you may see more than one method shown for the same search engine, in the tips below.
Not every command is shown, only the main ones that are most likely to be used. Read the search engine help files for more detailed information.
References to Lycos are for Lycos Pro. Commands are shown as capitalized but needn't be when used with some search engines, such as WebCrawler.
This is a search for pages containing any of your search words, rather than all of them. For example, you may want to find pages with references to both Ireland and Eire.
This is a search for pages containing all of your search words, rather than any of them. For example, you may want to find pages with references to both Clinton and Dole on the same page.
All the search engines allow you to exclude documents that contain certain words. This is a helpful way to narrow a search.
For example, you may want a page about the philosopher Calvin, not the cartoon character Calvin. By excluding those that mention Hobbes, the cartoon character's sidekick, you will get better results.
Not all engines support multiple word searches, or phrase searching. Most will try to find the words in documents as they appear and list these first. To be safe, use the phrase command for the engines that support it.
Some search engines let you indicate how close words should appear to each other.
You can search for plurals or variations of words using a wildcard character. Its also a great way to search if you dont know the spelling of a word.
AltaVista, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, Open Text and WebCrawler all have ways to let you search for media types, such as sounds or images. Some make it easier than others. For best results, check the help pages of each engine.
AltaVista and Infoseek allow searches of page titles, URLs, domains and in hyperlinks. For AltaVista, see the help page for a rundown on the various methods. Infoseek has a Special Searches page that inserts them for you. HotBot also has a wide-range of fields and a graphic interface to make searching them easy. Open Text has some fields via its advanced search page.
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