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Just "Google" It: Google hacks

A guide to help younger students locate relevant information

Shortcuts worth knowing

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 Remember: Google is a tool to help you research. Before you start Googling, make a plan....

  • How long have you got to complete this task?
  • How much of the time you have should be spent on research? How much time should be spent on organizing and presenting the information you have found?
  • Think of the question that you want answered and pick out the keywords
  • Use the hacks to search smart
  • Change your keywords if you are not getting the expected results
  • Remember to record the addresses of the sites you use information from 
  • Try some of the other search options we suggest

  Do not spend more than the time you have allowed on Google

It is easy to waste time


Don't ask Google a question

Keywords are the words you use to search for information about a topic. You do not need to use whole questions in Google. Look at your question and pick out the keywords.

Question: How many tigers are left in Malaysia in the wild? By only entering the 3 keywords you will get fewer, more relevant results.


How many
are left in
in the wild?
tigers malaysia wild

What will * do for me?

Using the asterisk or star key (shift & 8 on your keyboard) is called truncation.

See how it works in the examples below:

  • electr* - finds electric, electricity, electron, electrocute etc
  • colo*1r - finds colour or color (the *1 is asking to find 1 replacement letter) This will help with American / British spelling differences. Instead of *1 you could use ? (called a wildcard) example wom?n will find woman or women.
  • sul*2ur - finds sulfur or sulphur (the *2 is asking to find 2 replacement letters)
  • *refere* - finds preference, reference etc

Experiment with truncation and wildcards to see how it changes your results


Use quotation marks for exact matches

If you are looking for 2 or more words that should appear next to each other use quotation marks (speech marks or 66 and 99) to keep them together in your search. Hold down the shift key and the speech mark key to insert speech marks


Malaysian Tigers
"Malaysian Tigers"


Click to enlarge

Change your keywords if you have to...

When I searched for "Malaysian Tigers" I noticed that I seemed to get a lot of results about sports teams. In one result I noticed that the used the keyword Malayan, not Malaysian and when I changed my keyword I got much better results. Think of synonyms (words that mean the same thing) that you might use instead.


"Malaysian Tigers"
"Malayan Tigers"

Try adding KIDS to your search

Weblinks to look at