Boolean Searching on the Internet

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Back to Lesson 9:Internet Search Engines

Boolean Search with keywords or phrases

To narrow the search results to a better match, first define powerful keywords or phrases. Ask yourself, “What do I want exactly?” A good idea is to put in two to six words for your search. Using too general a keyword or phrase will yield too many results to sort through efficiently. Using special characters like “”, - and + can really help narrow your search. Many search engines expect the first word you write to be the most important.

What to do?

  1. Select a search engine!
  2. Insert the following phrase in different ways using the operators [“”; -; +] and look at the different numbers of search results.

The plus sign before a word means that it must be included in the results, and the minus sign before a word means it must be excluded from the results. If you want to search for a phrase of more than one word, you can use quotation marks to place the words together.



e.g. search phrase: "history of western art and civilization"

To make sure a keyword is NOT included: "history of western art" -civilization


To make sure a keyword is included: "history of western art" +civilization


To make sure to stick the keywords together but not search the keywords separately. “history of western art and civilization”

See also