Research and verification skills

Search for an exact phrase

Double quotation marks (“x”) are used to keep words together in a search. To search for an exact phrase, use double quotes at the beginning and end of your search terms. This is particularly useful for quotes, excerpts and lyrics.

For example, searching for the below quote without double quotation marks from Terry Pratchett’s ‘Making Money’ returns only one result relating to Pratchett.

But if you search for far less messy, considerably more efficient in double quotation marks, you will see that all the top results mention the author and the title of the book.

This can also be used for separate phrases. For example, say you only know two separate sections of a quote and need to find the rest. By searching for “considerably more efficient” and “Iron Maiden” – which is mentioned later in Pratchett’s quote – you are able to find the information you need.

The hyphen or subtract symbol (-) is used to remove search results which feature the word or phrase prominently. To exclude a term from your search, use the hyphen key followed by the term. This is useful if you’re searching for a popular or common phrase.

For example, searching the term ‘Lassie’ only brings up results about Lassie the dog.

But if you search for ‘Lassie -dog’ to exclude results which mention the phrase ‘dog’, you will see that the top results do not feature Lassie the dog.

The asterisks symbol (*) is used as a placeholder for unknown words or phrases. This is useful if you are unable to decipher a common phrase, quote or lyric. Wildcards searches are best used in conjunction with double quotation marks.

For example, the below quote is from David Bowie’s song ‘Life on Mars?’. The lyric is ”Cause Lenin’s on sale again’. Searching for this lyric with ‘on sale’ missing returns no results mentioning Bowie or the title of the song.

But if you search for “Cause Lenin’s * again” – in double quotation marks with an asterisk where ‘on sale’ should be – you will see that all the top results mention the artist and the title of the song.

Updated on February 3, 2023

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