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Zen Googling: The art of getting the information you want from the internet. (Part 2)

We continue today by diving deeper into how queries work by showing the results of combining them with special characters. In case you missed the first part just click here and bring yourself up to speed.

If you want to be more specific with your query inputs you can enclose them in double quotation marks. For instance, if you typed the phrase [“monkey pox in Nigeria”] google will find pages containing exactly the same phrase in the way the words are enclosed in the quotation marks. You can see this in the image below. Notice the highlighted phrase in yellow in the web page result is exactly in the same order as you typed it in the query.

But typing in [monkey pox in Nigeria] fetches pages in which the words [monkeypox], [monkey] and [Nigeria] occur in any particular order.

Quoted phrases can have plenty of applications one of which is using it to detect plagiarism. If you are teacher or want to be sure that an article has not been plagiarized, you can copy certain unique phrases and enclose them in quotation marks, then enter them as a query and compare the results. To further drill down your search results you can use more than one phrase enclosed in quotation marks. An example would be the following query; [“kachikwu”]  [“baru”]  [“osinbajo”].

The hyphen is another symbol that can be used with a query. Let’s say you want to search about sardines, but you don’t want anything that has to do with fish to appear. Your query should look like this [sardines –fish], this will return pages that have sardines with the exclusion of fish.

Next is the ~ tilde symbol. Just as it means approximation in normal parlance, like wise its use in conjunction with a query is quite similar. The tilde symbol when used with a query means that google should return pages with synonyms of the query. If I was to type [~corrupt], google would search for pages with the word corrupt as well as its synonyms such as dishonest, dishonorable, unscrupulous, unprincipled etc.

A double full-stop .. doesn’t mean stop two times. This special character is used in a query to specify range. For example, you want to read up on the history of Nigeria from 1914 till date. To specify the range in a query would be [Nigerian History 1914..2017]. This is also useful when you are searching for price ranges, [Android phones =N=15,000..=N=50,000].

An asterisk * is very useful when you want to search for something but don’t know the complete title or phrase. For instance, you know Chinua Achebe wrote a memoir that has the word country in it but you don’t know the full title. Your query would then be [“Chinua Achebe *country”]. Note that queries using the asterisk must be enclosed in double quotation marks.

Last but not the least is the word [OR]. Though not a symbol it is a special character, and must always be capitalized else google would treat it like any other search term. The [OR] operator can be used to increase search parameters. A query such as [“Nigeria jollof” OR “Ghana jollof”] would return pagers with the words Nigeria jollof and Ghana jollof but not pages that contain neither.

So that’s  the rundown of how to improve your search parameters with special character. But there is still more, so follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more info. Also check out our website.

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