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Get more out of your searching - by getting less results (but more relevant ones)

I search for some really weird, hard to find stuff. Part of my job is doing authority control, which basically means I have to look up really obscure items (mostly foreign movies and anime) and make sure everyone in our catalog record is actually associated with that item and their name is spelled correctly. My searches have to be very narrow so I can find what I am actually looking for.

Here are a couple of the tricks I’ve picked up to get better results.

  • Use quotes around your keyword to search for that exactly
    • If you use this around more than one word, it will look for results that have that phrase in that order.
    • This also can be used if you want your results to REQUIRE a certain word if you put around just one word. If I don’t do this, sometimes I get a lot of results that just have part of my search query in it.
  • Use the minus sign (-) to remove results with the words after it
    • This is helpful in narrowing down results if you are not interested in certain results.
    • It can be used to specify what you are looking for when a search query could have more than one kind of result
      • A good example of this is the image search results for “seals” versus “seals -animal*"
        • The * is a wildcard symbol that broadens a search.
        • Animal* searches for animal, animals, etc.
    • I use the minus sign to get rid of results from other libraries. I’m not interested in looking at other library catalogs when I’m trying to figure out if a name is wrong or not, since it’s likely that library is using the same record we are so they are not helpful.

These two tricks work on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.

There are many more tips, but these are the two I use the most. Here are a couple of my searches I’ve done in the past for authority control work:




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