Whether helping your child with a school project, looking for information about a holiday destination, or comparing the prices of a product, the first place you will go to is a search engine, Google being a popular choice. Internet search engines are web pages (powered by complex web based programs and databases in the background) which accept keywords and other criteria from you and display a list of web pages relating to the topic. Basically they help you find information on the World Wide Web. The search results may throw up zillions of web pages on the subject, but are all these relevant to your search? This depends on how well you have mastered the art of ‘searching’. Here are a few tips that will help you search the Internet better. I am focusing on Google here because that is one of the most popular search engines today, but the same principles apply for almost all search engines. Type only keywords into the search engine. This will yield better results than typing a whole sentence. For example, if you are looking about information on the Seven Wonders of the World just type in ‘seven wonders world’. It is more than sufficient. Adding more keywords will focus your search. For example if you are looking for information about gold mining using arsenic in Africa, try a search string that says ‘gold mining africa arsenic’. The keywords can be given one after the other, separated by a space. Google search is not case sensitive. So, don’t bother capitalizing word. Google automatically ignores common words like how, where, is, etc. If those words are essential for your search then simply affix a plus to the word. Suppose you are looking for information on the word ‘where’ obviously you will need it in the search string; in such as case type ‘+where’ when entering the keywords. Google automatically searches for similar words, so you need not include them all in the search. For example, if you enter the keyword ‘dietary’ it will automatically include ‘diet’ also in the search. If you are searching for an exact phrase, then include that within quotes. For example, if you are looking for a quotation of Shakespeare’s which has the phrase ‘To thine own self be true’ then type “to thine own self be true” in the search engine, with the double quotes. Suppose a word has many meanings. For example, you are searching for the word ‘tower’ but are not interested in information about the tower of your computer’s CPU, then you can negate those fields which you do not want information about by prefixing it with a minus sign. Type ‘tower -computer’ in the search engine. If you want information about Mercury, but do not want details about temperature or thermometer, you can simply search for ‘mercury -temperature -thermometer’ in the search engine. Google has several operators which helps you clarify your search. For example, the ~ (tilde symbol) specifies that you want to search not only for the word, but its synonyms also. The operator safesearch indicates that you want to avoid adult content. Print and keep Google’s cheat sheet (list of operators and workarounds) for easy reference Google Help : Cheat Sheet If you are not upto browsing through various search pages and want to hit just the bull’s eye, use Google’s ‘I’m feeling lucky’ option which takes you directly to the best match for your keyword search. For specifying more search criterion, use the Advanced Search option. For lots more resources about using Google, effective searching, interpreting the results, and so on, visit Google’s Help section Happy searching! Hope you find what you want.