Keyword Search Help


Searchable Databases


The Basic Search

To enter a query, type in a few descriptive words and press the Enter key or click the Go button for a list of relevant results.

Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. For instance, Google analyzes not only the candidate page, but also the pages linking into it to determine the value of the candidate page for your search. Google also prefers pages in which your query terms are near each other.


A single spelling suggestion is returned with the results for queries where the spell checker has detected a possible spelling mistake.

The spell checker feature is context sensitive. For example, if the query submitted is "gail divers," "gail devers" is suggested as an alternative query. However, "scuba divers" would not return an alternate query suggestion.


Synonyms are other words that have the same or similar meanings. They are displayed as "Other suggested searches" on the results page.

Automatic "and" Queries

By default, Google only returns pages that include all of your search terms. There is no need to include "and" between terms. For example, to search for engineering product specification documents, enter:

To broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms.

"OR" Searches

Google supports the logical "OR" operator. To retrieve pages that include either word A or word B, use an uppercase "OR" between terms. For example, to search for an office in either London or Paris, enter:

See Your Search Terms in the Results

Every Google search result lists one or more excerpts from the web page to display how your search terms are used in context on that page. In the excerpt, your search terms are displayed in bold text so that you can quickly determine if that result is from a page you want to visit.

Does Capitalization Matter?

Google searches are not case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are understood as lower case. For example, searches for "george washington," "George Washington," and "George washington" all return the same results.

Does Google Use Stemming? *NEW*

Yes. An improvement to the search within Docs also includes automatic stemming and synonyms. So if you search for "check account", Google will also include results for a few variations of those words, including "checking account" (which is what you probably meant to type). Or if you search for "mac book", we'll also include results for "macbook".

Refining Your Search

Since Google only returns web pages that contain all of the words in your query, refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. The refined query returns a specific subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query.

Excluding Words

You can exclude a word from your search by putting a minus sign ("-") immediately in front of the term you want to exclude. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign.

For example, the search:

will return pages about bass that do not contain the word "music."

Phrase Searches

You can search for phrases by adding quotation marks. Words enclosed in double quotes ("like this") appear together in all returned documents. Phrase searches using quotation marks are useful when searching for famous sayings or specific names.

Certain characters serve as phrase connectors. Phrase connectors work like quotes because they join your search words in the same way double quotes join your search words. For example, the search:

is treated as a phrase search even though the search words are not enclosed in double quotes. Google recognizes hyphens, slashes, periods, equal signs, and apostrophes as phrase connectors.

Alternate Search


  • An asterisk may be used as a wildcard at the end of a word. For example, type key* to find key, keying, keyhole, keyboard, and so on.

  • Use two asterisks to search for all forms of a word. For example, type sink** to find sink, sinking, sank, and sunk.

  • Use double quotes around a partial word and an asterisk at the end of the quote to find a particular sequence of letters. For example, type "chiro"* to find chiropractic and chiropractor.

  • Search with the keyword NEAR, rather than AND, for words close to each other. For example, the queries system and manager and system near manager both look for the words system and manager on the same page. With NEAR, the returned pages are ranked in order of proximity. The closer together the words are, the higher the rank of that page.

  • Refine your queries with the AND NOT keywords to exclude certain text from your search. For example, to find all instances of surfing but not the Net, use the following query:

    surfing AND NOT the Net

  • Use the OR keyword to find all instances of either one word or another. For example, this query finds all pages that mention Abbott or Costello or both:

    Abbott OR Costello

  • Put quotation marks around keywords if you want them to be taken as literal words rather than keywords. For instance, the following query:

    "system near manager"

    will literally look for the complete phrase system near manager. But the same query without the quotation marks:

    system near manager

    searches all documents for the words system and manager.

  • Add parentheses to nest expressions within a query. The expressions in parentheses are evaluated before the rest of the query.

  • The AND keyword has a higher precedence than OR. For example, the first three queries are equal, but the fourth is not:

    1. a AND b OR c
    2. c OR a AND b
    3. c OR (a AND b)
    4. (c OR a) AND b

  • To view a search result in context, choose the Summary or Full link corresponding to a search result. When you view results using the Summary or Full link, the search terms will be highlighted in yellow (with the exception of some words and numbers that the search engine has classified as commonly-used words and numbers). Documents viewed using the Full link will not be formatted properly. To see the properly formatted document, click on the document's name or URL in the search results; however, the search terms will not be highlighted in yellow in the properly formatted document.